The Fine Art of Magazine Cover Virality
on Richard Johnson (India), 25/May/2012 12:59, 34 days ago
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When did we all become so completely obsessed with magazine covers?It seems none of us can get enoughsuggestive poses,egregious photoshopping,bold breastfeeding,Zuckerberg hate-ons,Demi rip-offs or wholesome conservative cleavage(not exactly Maxim is it?).Indeed, this recentAdWeek retrospectiveof arresting magazine covers is mostlyT&A, and no where does it suggest that you actually read these mags.The new cover ofForeign Policy, a so-called Sex Issue (wait, wasn'tthis issuesexy enough?) would be an arrestable offence in many countries (which is essentially the point of authorMona Eltahawy'scover story).The recentCover of the Year winnerat the American National Magazine Awards? Yup, not exactlyMartha Stewart Living.There's even more to the cover craze: covers that didn't make it to print but we still want to go viral; covers that exploit your infatuation with non-print media; covers that test your capacity for irony, and covers that suggest a certain someone is gee-ay-why.(Before being outed Obama was also atiny-headed gangster-Jewish Rodin sculpture.)There are even covers that aren't even covers yet, hence thismasterful mash-up of future magazine covers fromNew Yorkmagazine.And then there are covers that circumvent breasts and rainbows and go to right to subliminal messaging for a certain Canadian Prairie town (suck it, Winnipeg!).What do all these covers have in common? They appear to be based on the idea that going viral (which all these covers have to varying degrees, except thoseMartha Stewarteggs) is the best way to sell a magazine brand, if not an actual magazine.And you know what? It works. Will you ever forget the images of breast-munching chair-boy or body-paint burqa, even after Twitter has short-circuited your temporal lobe? No. Will you actually believe the American president is a homosexual when you pull his lever in November? Maybe.Will you remember that these covers stood in for forward-thinking social debates on post-feminist parenting, post-nationalist feminism and post-stupidity human rights? Probably not. But then, you (and I) probably hadn't read the issue by the time you helped its cover go viral.Hooray for the new magazine model: look, but don't touch!Oh, and while I've got you panting for magazines, check out theBest Cover nomineesfor the CanadianNational Magazine Awards. The winner will be announced June 7.