July 12, 2008

"Why is it so hard for a magazine to shoot a decent celebrity cover?"

Some shocking examples of uglification here. My theory is that magazine editors want professional models and are annoyed to by the fact that celebrity faces on the cover help circulation so much that they can no longer do what their aesthetic sensibilities tell them is right. Thwarted, the wreak their revenge. It's passive aggression.


sloandaughter said...

I remember seeing that SJP one at the grocery store. I thought, "how in the world did she let them do that to her?!" You'd think they'd want to approve a cover before it went to press.

sloandaughter said...

woops I'm commenting on someone else's machine while I'm on vay-cay. --knox

ricpic said...

Wow, someone at Paste (whatever that is) sure had it in for Scarlett Johannsen (sp?).

On the other hand, nothing can really be done about horseface Sarah Jessica Parker.

Bissage said...

I’m not going to get all exercised about unflattering celebrity portraits.

But just you wait until I’m King of America.

Anybody who says “begs the question” when they should have said “raises the question” will have their kids taken away by Child and Family Services.

Think I’m joking? Thomas Jane thought I was joking. Now he knows better.

Dr Dre's Underpants said...

Yo, you should see the picture of me they had on Rolling Stone. Those racists.

They litened up my color. I am black and I am proud, say it loud.

vbspurs said...

The three-fer of Blake Lively (who?), Anjelina Jolie and an unrecognisable Scarlett Johanssen was a very good visual aid about this. It looks like a hatchet job, on purpose.

But...then there are magazines who go out of their way to make certain people look good.

Obama in Magazines


George said...

Celebrities rule the covers of many magazines because of their recognizability which in turn drives increased newsstand sales.

That in turn drives increased subscriptions, because newsstand buyers typically purchase 2-4 issues before "converting" to subscriptions.

Advertising rates for magazines are typically based on circulation numbers—the higher the circ., the more a magazine can charge advertisers. That's part of the reason so many magazines lose money on subscriptions...they make it back on ad revenue.

Odds are all or most of those cover shots were approved by the celebrities and/or their agents and the advertisers (via the publishers). Furthermore, no editor will last long if she/he can't keep sales up.

In addition and perhaps most important, different target audiences want different looks, and celebs will modify their images to appeal to each demographic group and the advertisers serving those particular consumer groups. Cosmo has a low-income, low education readership. Good House wants young Mommy readers. Paste needs cool hipsters, and Vogue wants older wealther women who like to see artificially youthful looking women. And it's obvious who reads Maxim and with one hand. In other words, if you are not in a magazine's particular target audience, its editors and advertisers could care less whether or not you think the cover image is ugly.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Because the real woman is not acceptable and must be photoshopped into perfection.

However, the guys doing the photoshopping are likely those geekoid basement dweller types that are good with computers but have yet to have had actual contact with a living breathing woman and therefore have no conception of what a real woman should look like.

TMink said...

This is an interesting issue, one that I first began thinking about when I was a working photographer.

First, the fashion industry is full of nasty, mean people. Seriously. They are mean to the models, always pointing out their flaws and bitching at them to lose weight. It is absurd as these are generally beautiful or at least very photogenic people who are thin in the first place.

Second, aside from being mean, a lot of the people in the fashion industry are fem gays. That has got to raise some very interesting issues, but I am not qualified to go into it very much as I am not personally or professionally experienced with the issues. But a sizeable portion of the fashion industy loathe women.

And occasionally, it shows.

I am not sure that all the hatchet jobs are conscious decisions.


Ann Althouse said...

Trey, I find it very hard to believe that gay men loathe women.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Trey, I find it very hard to believe that gay men loathe women"

Maybe not loathe, but possibly have a somewhat distorted concept of what women look like or should look like as an ideal. Similar to the anorexic who insists that he/she is fat or the woman who thinks she is ugly and has excessive plastic surgery. Not just women, Michael Jackson comes to mind. A distorted body image on a personal level and on a cultural level as well.

Baron Zemo said...

"Trey, I find it very hard to believe that gay men loathe women."

Some people really have no concept of how truly ignorant they are.

glen said...

Magazines are certainly capable of eliminating the imperfections in photos. They do it all the time.

Celebrities Before & After Photoshop

Wouldn't you think that most celebrities have final approval of any photos used in their cover shoots? Perhaps these celebrities liked the results.

blake said...


Nothing can be done?

Cedarford said...

A magazine that shoots celebrities that does it right, issue after issue, is Sports Illustrated. Yes, that includes the swimsuit model issue.
The celebrities are shown in their element, photo covers that show what they are all about. Michael Jordan was never better shown than on SI, in one microsecond of his life, 9 or 10 different times.

Perhaps the other mags need to change not with flattering photos, but with shots that open a window indo what is deep in their subject.

The latest issue has a cover of the war that was fought for 4 1/2 hours by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal at Wimbleton...now thought to be the greatest championship match, most intense of any in tennis. And one of the best of one-on-one clashes of athletes in ANY non-team sport.
That photo shows both young men - Federer in all his grace and artistry reaching for an impossible shot..."Rafa" Nadal waiting - body coiled, muscles bulging, laser eyes - with indominable power, speed, and the remorseless aggression he manages to in a way that is devoid of any personal hostility towards his opponent.

Whereas other celebs in other magazines are shown as pure two-dimensional eye candy - without the attempt to capture what depth there is to them, what their personality, their element is....

Whiskey said...

Ann, of course gay men do not like women.

Gay men != women with different plumbing.

They are men who are not sexually interested in women. They have completely different views of women than men who are straight.

Trust me on this one.

Bissage said...


Good, now that that's over with . . . here's my comment on the subject:

It's complicated . . .yeah . . . that's it . . . complicated.

Bissage said...

Okay, maybe that was too much too soon.

For those Althousians left a bit unsettled . . . well . . . here's the antidote.

And here's a hint: It's in your eyes.

veni vidi vici said...

"However, the guys doing the photoshopping are likely those geekoid basement dweller types that are good with computers but have yet to have had actual contact with a living breathing woman and therefore have no conception of what a real woman should look like."

Reading that brought to mind the idea of scent, and made me think it would read better replacing the second last word with "smell". I don't know why, actually.

I think the sense of smell is at least as "dirty" as sight, if not even moreso.

veni vidi vici said...

Consider the following:

Sarah Jessica Parker looks like Michael Landon with a blonde dye-job.

There is nothing that's sexy about that woman, and Ann's post awhile back about her "sinewy-ness" (or whatever she called it) addressed the physique. Parker has the face of my rabbi, without the beard. She's awfully unfeminine, try as the PR machine might to make her a doll.

Joe said...

Watch the various shows concerning fashion and modeling (i.e. American's Top Model) and it becomes very apparent that many people at the top of these industries have a very strange aesthetic. I do think they perceive most anorexics, for example, as being too fat.

Add to that a catty view of beauty by the woman running the fashion industry, combined with the perverse views of beauty by gays.

Oddly enough, I think this is one factor ruining Playboy--it has too many women in making aesthetic decisions (combined with a creaky old man who loves silicon way too much.)

Joe said...

That posting by glen is interesting. The last girl with the freckles is absolutely gorgeous before and totally hideous after the retouching.

vbspurs said...

First, the fashion industry is full of nasty, mean people. Seriously.

Is there ANY profession or trade which isn't full of nasty, mean people, though?

I know what you're saying Tmink. But academia is full of such people. The hairdressing industry is full of such people. Anything related to sales, from shoes to hedge funds, is full of such people.

I can't think of one profession where competitive jealousy doesn't lurk.

I dunno, oyster shuckers?

TMink said...

I did not write that all gay men hate women. I did state that a lot of people in the fashion industry are really cruel people. And a lot of them are gay. But it does not follow logically, or from my experience, or from what I wrote that gay men hate women.

Gay men vary considerably in their personalities, just like straight guys.

Perhaps cruel people in general are drawn to the fashion industry, perhaps the work makes them mean after awhile, but ask around, it is full of really cruel people.


TMink said...

VBSpurs, that is a fair and interesting question. In my experience the fashion industry was the worst, but there is so much that I have not experienced obviously. What environment was full of the bigget jerks that you are familiar with?


Dust Bunny Queen said...

What environment was full of the bigget jerks that you are familiar with?

Stockbrokers at a wirehouse like Dean Witter or Merrill Lynch. Hands down.