Tuesday, September 16, 2008
What's Wrong With This Cover?
Let me help you out. Pretend you walk up to a newsstand. You're looking for the new issue of People. There it is, right there in the rack. The rack that covers the bottom portion of the cover. And who is placed inexplicably low on the cover? The McCain's adopted daughter Bridget. WTF?
I have been a magazine art director for 15 years, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that this was a deliberate decision by the magazine. Nothing gets more attention than the cover, and there are a host of people that weigh in on even the tiniest of details.
For each and every cover, the prioritization and placement of text and every important element takes into account the newsstand rack, the mailing label, you name it. Nothing is placed anywhere without a reason and careful consideration.
The art director, editor and photographer determined that the "MEET THE McCAINS" copy could afford to be placed low because PEOPLE generally gets prominent placement and is often unobstructed. And in racks where it is partially obscured, Cindy and John McCain are instantly recognizable.
This was probably one of dozens of shots taken, and one of multiple arrangements of the subjects, but I cannot think of any reason why any of the shots would have included putting an adult on a foot-high riser.
But the decision to place Bridget, of all the children, that far down is simply awful. It would be questionable to place anyone sitting that much lower than anyone else, but the fact that they chose her, and the likely reason why is what's disgraceful.
It is straight-up racism. Now, I'm not implying that this is the result of racist actors, but race IS the reason. She was deliberately minimized on the cover with certain elements of the public in mind. The fact that she is blocked on some racks is a bonus to them for their decision to isolate her from the family to start with.
What they have done is relegate her to the spot usually reserved for the family dog.
There is no good reason she should not be placed one "head" higher. The only possible reason I can rationalize is that the decision was in part to give prominence to the chest of [minor celebrity] Meghan directly behind her. But that is not sufficient reason. If boobs were an element that they wanted to capitalize on, they simply would have moved Meghan slightly to the right and made sure Bridget was at the right height, but off Meghan's chest to the left.
So, my experience tells me it was no accident that they chose to run with a shot with the "different" child banished to the lower corner, and it is a fucking disgrace.
For the record, this is all on People. I don't have any reason to attribute any blame to McCain. Hell, as was pointed out in comments elsewhere, John and Cindy might even've thought "Hey, Bridget's right there in the front row!"
UPDATE: Still the Palin cover at the CVS around the corner. Why did they use a shot of the baby asleep? Now I have to question if it is to minimize his Downs appearance.