Magazine covers and social networks

Your Turn: Annie Leibovitz Turns Tina Fey Into New American Sweetheart … Or So She Exclaims:
[Via BAGnewsNotes]


Annie’s going to photograph my soul, right?”

As perhaps the biggest star (after Obama) to emerge out of Campaign ’08, I’m curious about your take on the new Tina Fey Vanity Fair cover. (I’m sure VF was thrilled to have her, by the way, after telegraphing — through a sour grapes set of parody covers — how they missed the boat with Barack.)

The scene is photographed by Annie Leibovitz, known for her commercial mastery in playing to and with the intersection of politics and entertainment. Besides my interest in just about every element on the page, I’m curious — just like Annie’s Vogue LaBron James cover was born out of a World War I propaganda poster — what the historical references and implications of this image are.

And then, what’s with that quote, and the situation of Tina between AL and Maureen Dowd? And exactly where is that flag planted?

What Tina Wants (VF Modo Cover Story)

(image: Annie Leibovitz. Vanity Fair. January 2009)

Most people would see just a cover photo but read the comments from BAGnewsNotes and you will find that this is a remake of a very specific pinup from 1945 called ‘The Winning Combination” by Rolf Armstrong.


Both hold a 48 star flag (a subtle dig at Alaska?). The flags are both flowing from right to left. The angle of the flag pole is almost exactly the same in both. The flag is planted in the Northern Hemisphere in both.

To me, the dead giveaway – notice where the only real color is on both lady’s outfits. They are wearing the same color panties. And the interior lining of their skirt is the same color. Well, Armstrong was a pinup artist. And Leibovitz is obviously recreating his work.

Of course, we are 60 years past 1945, and this cover has to sell magazines, so there is a little more burlesque in the cover pose than in the pinup. But it is very obvious, especially when you include the LeBron James cover (which is a remake of a WWI poster) that Leibovitz is doing a series based on older posters.

So, I would say that Leibovitz is not attempting to get to Fey’s soul with this picture as much as updating America’s past images with newer remixes.

But I never would have been informed about this without having access to the Internet and the many eyes model of information gathering. Only Leibovitz and a select few would probably have known what was going on. But the social connections found on the Internet allow those small few to educate others.

Today, this education is just about a WW2 poster. However, it could just as easily be about the activity of a novel protein or a unique catalyst for generating electricity.

In some technologies, the trivial is expressed first. But the substantial is not far behind.

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