Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Time, for a lesson in headline writing

John T. Elson passed away recently. As Time Magazine's religion editor in 1966, he wrote the cover story for the April 8th issue of that year, the edition that would give Time its biggest newsstand sales in more than 20 years and provoke 3,500 letters to the editor. As the New York Times notes:
For more than a year, Mr. Elson had labored over an article examining radical new approaches to thinking about God that were gaining currency in seminaries and universities and spilling over to the public at large.

When finally completed, it became the cover story for the issue of April 8, as Easter and Passover approached. The cover itself was eye-catching, the first one in Time’s 43-year history to appear without a photograph or an illustration. Giant blood-red letters against a black background spelled out...

Okay, that's not the cover. That's actually the title of the article as it appeared on the inside. For the cover, the editors instead chose the first sentence of the article:

Shorter, punchier, and most importantly, much more provocative, while still being true to the content of the story. Makes you want to open the magazine, if only to see which way they go on the answer.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Stepford Ads

Another entry in the "Where Do They Get Their Crazy Ideas?" Department, and this one is relatively easy to explain. I saw this poster over the weekend, advertising an upcoming movie:

As images go, this one is cleverly arresting. Your eyes immediately to the woman's Angelina Jolie/Megan Fox-type features, while mostly registering the rest of her typically modelesque pose peripherally. Then the position of the hands draws your eyes toward the inevitable bared tattoo and that's when the stripped midsection with its metallic spinal column hits you. And although the merger of fleshy and blood with steely machinery should be abhorrent, the woman's physical perfection and cold demeanor seem almost robotic anyway.

And in fact, pretty much the same commentary* fits this ad that appeared just a year and a half ago:

(*Yes, after glimpsing the face, your eyes drift down to something else besides a tattoo, but it has the same effect.)

Of course, the whole Sexy Female Robot in popular culture idea goes back to at least 1975...

And maybe even further:

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mouse Power

So the Walt Disney Company has purchased Marvel Entertainment. What can we expect? As usual, visionary comic book creator Jack Kirby speculated an answer (albeit unknowingly) some 17 years ago:

(from "The Art of Mickey Mouse," 1992)

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