July 6, 2005

The Situation At Hand


The BAG again falls for another compelling TE cover (and another crack at the maybe not-so-accessible G-8/Africa topic).  As usual, though, I have a few questions:

1. Re: Sex

Isn’t TE (at least partly) indulging in titillation?  Is there some suggestion that "these people" can’t keep their hands to themselves?  Is the action seducing?  Isn’t this guy a little old for her?  Is he paying for it?  If the AIDS epidemic is one of the continent’s biggest problems, is it worked into the image as well? 

2.  Re: Help

How does this image in any way signify that Africa is being helped?  Is the ambiguity intentional?  Is the top hand not African?  Do we really get any socioeconomic information from these hands?

3. Re: Religion

Is this a Sistine Chapel reference here?  Given that Christianity (especially in its more conservative form) is growing more rapidly in Africa than anywhere else, could the top hand belong to a priest?  Or a missionary?  If the Western world (or,just The Economist’s subscriber base) is threatened by Africa and African immigration, does a religious hand represent a welcome vehicle for domestication? 

4.  Re: Cash

Does the jewelry — although apparently modest in itself — make reference to the Continent’s riches?  From that perspective, does the image involve going after it?  Does the placement of the bar code (which is marked with a price and practically stamped over the lower arm) reinforce this association?

5.  Re: What’s Happening

Is the right hand actually holding something that it’s giving to the left?  Isn’t it interesting that you can’t tell?  What is the interaction? 

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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