Jennifer Armstrong
March 05, 2009 AT 06:00 PM EST

Judd Apatow’s funny boys — Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Jonah Hill — “recreate” the sorta-famous Scarlett Johansson/Keira Knightley nude photo shoot for Vanity Fair this month, with Paul Rudd playing the role of the creepily lurking Tom Ford. Except, of course, they’re wearing nude body stockings. Because, of course, we wouldn’t really want to objectify them. It’s supposed to be funny, see. [Editor’s note: Rights issues prevent us from running the photo here, but you can see it on Vanity Fair‘s website. At left is how the guys look on the magazine’s cover.]

Now don’t get me wrong — I’m not madly, deeply offended by this photo shoot, in and of itself. But it’s interesting to ponder why this is deemed hilarious; it’s because you wouldn’t likely see this setup in a mainstream (straight) mag, even with sexy male actors whose bodies we’d like to see sans-stockings. (Bradley Cooper, I’m talking to you.) Interesting, too, that they chose the one dude we might wanna see lounging in the buff to be the darn clothed one.

Vanity Fair‘s tribute to the male comedy troupe of the moment — and I do genuinely dig their movies — comes just as that ugly little debate about whether chicks can be funny has flared up once again, care of Germaine Greer in the U.K.’s Guardian. Now, as amusing — and box-office-dominating — as toked-up, non-committal manboys have proven in the past few years, something else has happened in the time since Christopher Hitchens’ absurd screed about women’s biological blocks to humor in none other than VF. Namely, the rise to dominance of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Kristen Wiig, Sarah Silverman, Samantha Bee, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Wanda Sykes, Aisha Tyler, and Isla Fisher, among others. The question is whether it would be just as uproarious if some of those ladies vamped ironically in body stockings. Given that good old VF did a genuinely sexy spread with some of those genuinely sexy ladies not too long ago, I’d say chances are it wouldn’t seem like much of a joke.

So that leaves us with this: Men being objectified is so silly as to be hilarious, but it’s better if funny women are also hot. Or maybe it just leaves us to conclude that Vanity Fair has a lot of conflicted feelings to work out in magazine therapy. What do you think? Would you like to see the Apatow crew baring all? Would it be as funny a parody if female comedians did it?

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