Has the magazine industry recovered, like all those stories say it has? I think not. But let's agree that all those titles we love are trying really, really hard to: 1) Get attention, even if it means going off message; 2) Be cutting-edge, even if it means fudging photos; and 3) Stay relevant, even if your magazine doesn't exist. The corresponding evidence follows:
1. ESPN, The Movie Issue
What am I most surprised about...the fact that the woman on the cover of ESPN, the Magazine is not Sharon Stone but Olympic skier Lindsay Vonn, or that fact the ESPN, the Magazine has a movie issue? Apparently the NFL, with it's monster TV ratings, just isn't enough for today's sports fan. I'm wondering if the editor who wrote the cover line "Back to Basics" was in fact feeling that the publication might bestraying a bit too far from its core mission. No matter, Vonn doesn't look like Sharon Stone in this homage to Basic Instinct. In this behind-the-scene video of the photo shoot, Vonn talks about her resemblance to Stone. One commentator, recalling the famous scene reacted here, wondered whether the underlying message was that "even if a female athlete has a gold medal, never forget that she also has a vagina!" Your thoughts? By the way, while there are lots of stories about this cover on the Internet, none of which will tell you that the photographer of the cover was Ture Lillegravin.
2. GQ Spain
Model Irina Shayk (click it, trust me) is said to be suing GQ Spain for making her appear to be nude in several images of its current issue (cover above, nude below). Shayk's agency, Elite, said in a statement (go here) that the model was wearing lingerie in the "artistic and tasteful shots done by famed photographer Vincent Peters, and that she was supposed to have final approval over the images before they were published. According to Elite, the lure of nudity and Photoshop proved to be too great for the magazine to withstand. As you look at the image above, remember that those are just pixels and not real flesh that you're seeing. As a matter of fact, it's good to remember that whenever you look at any fashion, advertising, or portrait photography. It's about fantasy.
Life magazine stopped publishing a weekly edition in 1972. Last week, however, Life.com had a fun piece up in which Project Runway's Tim Gunn was asked to pick his favorite fashion images from the pages of the magazine. The selection is fun to look at, and Gunn is as impeccable in taste as always, but the piece struck me as a bit of a stretch, since Life was never the home of great fashion photography. For Life, fashion, like the movies, was news, not art. It's just a little silly looking at the history of fashion imagery through the eyes of Life's photographers. Having said that, however, let me add that the shot below, which appeared in 1969, when I was but a lad, had a very...profound effect on me, and I am thankful that Gunn included it.