Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Why Magazine Covers Can Still Knock Our Socks Off

Jill Filipovic, editor of the web site Feministe, has written a persuasive piece about why print magazine covers still grab us, even in this age of images flashing by online at dizzying speeds.  Is it the cover lines that tease?  The sleek models (think GQ), the "beautiful people" (Vogue), the edgy, quirky but always relevant (Rolling Stone)?  The shiny paper and lush inks?

Filipovic reminds of the covers that were cultural earthquakes: "Two decades ago, newsstands across the country wrapped Vanity Fair in paper to conceal a pregnant and nude Demi Moore. Mention the imminently talented Janet Jackson, and you’re likely to evoke three major cultural reference points: Miss Janet (if you’re nasty), wardrobe malfunction, and that Rolling Stone cover turned album art of Jackson in those high-rise, stone-washed jeans, arms up, with man-hands covering her bare breasts. John Lennon wrapped around Yoko Ono, also for Rolling Stone, is the iconic image of that relationship. Even National Lampoon’s 1973 “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog” bit triggered an immediate, emotive response—and remains a cultural touch point more than 40 years later."

Even with print publications in a seeming irreversible slump, their covers still make news.  And magazine cover opportunities are still coveted by public figures with an image to protect and burnish.  No matter how many Twitter followers you have, you aren't going to turn down Rolling Stone (ask Julia Louis-Dreyfus) or Vogue (probably the toniest magazine real estate Kim and Kanye have ever had!)

Even though we spend hours online sifting through news and images, millions still look forward to Time Magazine's "Person of the Year" cover (most recently Pope Francis, and still mostly men, in spite of Time's change from "Man of the Year" to "Person of the Year" in 1999).  Few who lived through the Afghanistan war era will forget photographer Steve McCurry haunting photo of the penetrating eyes of a 12-year-old refugee girl, Sharbat Gula, in a refugee camp on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, published as a National Geographic cover. 

There are lists and lists of favorites, compiled by sources from the American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) to Mashable.  McCurry's National Geographic cover is Mashable's No. 1 pick; the Lennon-Ono photo is ASME's. A look through the cover images in these lists are good reminders of how compelling these covers can be, and how much emotion and commentary they contain.

1 comment:

  1. Images....photos...pictures...say a thousand words. We are a very visual society as evidenced by what is worn or not worn,love of fashion trends, or our enamored interest in pop culture icons. We are voyeurs in a fast-paced and ever - changing world.