On his blog, Ian Aleksander Adams offers an analysis of Ryan McGinley’s work, which is well worth the read: “This is an image, then, of a very specific America, a very specific American youth. Adventure and sexuality may be freer (and gay, youthful McGinley himself is adamant about this) but there is a possibly disturbing undertone that this fantasy is for a certain group of people, the people approved and selected for this lifestyle. Then, for the majority of the world, even outside of its ridiculousness, it is exponentially unattainable. You must be young, American, waifish, freely naked, and part of ‘whiteness.’”
Ian’s analysis can certainly be applied to other photographers’ work, too - with our Western culture now firmly following the same trends regardless of where you go, you don’t have to have the attribute “American”. I remember going to AIPAD three years ago and finding Mona Kuhn’s photographs of pretty naked white people on prominent display everywhere.
It’s probably not surprising that this kind of photography looks just like advertizing (minus the clothes) and that it usually is described as bringing back “youth” and “freedom” to photography when it is “discovered”.