October 14, 2011

TIME Covers: Painting the Grassroots & A Stealth Afghan Do-Over

There are a some strange things going on in comparing the new TIME covers for the U.S. and Asian markets.

First of all, with the option of who-knows-how-many original and “hyper-contemporary” phrases and images flying out of lower Manhattan and the rest of the Occupy cities, it’s odd TIME chose from to frame the Occupy Wall Street Movement with the term “silent majority” — a clear throwback to the phrase “Moral Majority” which signified the Reagan Era, Jerry Falwell- (and Political Action Committee-)driven (and ultimately, pretty small) movement that was said to speak for a silent, morally ascendent but supposed massive number of American adherent to the Christian Right.

Clearly, establishment media and establishment politicians, especially in the supposed center are feeling terribly threatened by “Occupy.” (Did you notice, by the way, how Bill Clinton — a 1%-er — said yesterday that OWS isn’t going anywhere until they bring in people “that know what they’re doing”?) I do think TIME got it right in coming up with an allusion that alludes to the moral basis of OWS. To liken it to a right-wing movement, though, is to reinforce the meme going around, particularly in the media, that the (grassroots) OWS is merely just a left-wing mirror image of the (astroturf) Tea Party.

And then, there’s the more manifest issue of what the Afghanistan cover is saying and the fact nobody in America is going to see it. So America can’t handle the truth, but Asia can?

Of course, there is also the whole level of pontification involved. Mikko Takkunen, publisher of the site, PhotojournalismLinks, offered a wonderful juxtaposition in response to the pair above. You’ll remember how Bag was a little stirred about TIME cutting off its own nose in politically editorializing on America’s endless engagement in East Asia? More than a little deadpan, Mikko writes:

My eyes were drawn to the headline that accompanies the image… “Why The US Will Never Save Afghanistan.” You compare that to the famous 2010 cover with Jodi Bieber’s Aisha portrait with the headline “What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan”,and I would argue there’s been a change in Afghanistan thinking at TIME’s editorial desk.

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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