Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Suburban Mom's Political Fix: Seriously, What's Up With This Prez. Beefcake Cover?

When I saw the cover of the May issue of Washingtonian Magazine online -- with an artificially glowing, unethically Photoshopped image of the president bare chested and in his swimming trunks -- I was disgusted. How in the heck could the magazine's editors have thought this particular image would be a wise choice, except if they were only seeking a lot of negative buzz? (No doubt the number of hits the magazine's web site has received spiked this past week.)

Certainly the editors, in their "reasons to love Washington" issue, could've used a different, albeit still attractive cover image highlighting President Obama or the photogenic Obama family. They didn't need to resort to the salacious. And they shouldn't have. (Doesn't this simply feed the notion that the media are totally in the tank, Obamified lapdogs?)

This image simply diminishes President Obama, reduces him to some tabloid personality akin to a Hollywood celebrity, an object at which to gawk. (Remember the McCain campaign's "celebrity" ads? This plays into that argument.)

Throw in the fact that the cover was doctored -- a la Time Magazine's infamous OJ cover and Newsweek's Martha Stewart cover, as the color of Obama's swimming trunks was changed, as was the lighting on his chest (see the original photo here) -- and it was just a bad move all around. When I taught a journalism ethics course to undergraduates last year, we dedicated an entire class to the discussion of altered magazine covers and made the distinction between magazines that supposedly abided by news oriented-journalistic ethics (under which I would think the Washingtonian would fall) and those that didn't (like Redbook's Faith Hill cover).

We've got serious problems to address with our economy in a precarious condition and an ongoing two-front war, with troubling stories emerging from Afghanistan. And a respected monthly in the nation's capital put the president on the cover of their magazine while he's in his bathing suit accompanied by the headline, "Our New Neighbor is Hot." What is wrong with this picture?

Image credit: Washingtonian Magazine.


Angela said...

I took a look at the original image and he still look pretty buff. Oops, I'm not helping!!

Meredith said...


There's buff-ness. No question. But my beef with the beefcake is putting it on a magazine cover. And messin' with the image. And still calling yourself a work of journalism.