July 29, 2010

What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan?? …Try, What’s Happening on this Cover?

Jodi Bieber / INSTITUTE for TIME

Jodi Bieber / INSTITUTE for TIME

What’s going on (or, going wrong) with this traumatic cover?

I’ve got some questions to kick things off (…then I’m heading down to the discussion thread to see where you’re going with this.)

1. With her thick black hair, which looks richer for the reflective light; her high cheekbones; her full lips; her receptive, more than piercing or demanding gaze; her silvery, sequin-like dress with the exotic and stylish Oriental pattern and the not overly-modest neckline; with the light reflecting off her left cheekbone and also reflecting off the shawl — not a hijab by the way, but worn just off her head to suggest one — I’m wondering (with your eye being more distracted by the eyes, and by the light reflecting off the hair, the cheek and the rich purple shawl) if you even attend all that much to the nose?

2. How much is this photo actually playing off the romanticized, and quite famous photo of Steve McCurry’s “Afghan Girl”  — only minus the covered head, the fierce expression and the torn clothing.  (In comparison, by the way, does Aisha look more like a model whose nose has been photoshopped away?)

3. Any surprise this “tug at your heart” cover comes out just days after Wikileak brings the failure of the Afghan campaign into the light — and just as the campaign against Wikileak and Julian Assange gets going in the MSM?  …By the way, anyone want to ask TIME how long they had this story set-and-ready-to-go?

4. What happens if we leave???  Didn’t this girl meet this fate after we’d been there nine years?

5.  If you happened to read Nicholas Kristof’s fantastic NYT Op-Ed today, he argues that we could and should end our military involvement immediately, but then stay and invest a small fraction of what we were spending on soldiers and bombs to fundamentally transform Afghanistan by building hundreds of schools. Isn’t this title, on the other hand, applying emotional blackmail and exploiting gender politics to pitch for the status quo — a continued U.S. military involvement?

Updated: 5pm PST. 5:30: slightly revised.

article: The Plight of Afghan Women: A Disturbing Picture.

Article: Photographing Aisha for the Cover of TIME.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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