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Placement

I was in line to buy a few groceries and spotted the latest issue of People magazine in the point-of-sale magazine rack, the one with the McCain family on the cover.  Something about the cover just seemed a little bit… off.  Do you see it, too?

There’s a metaphor there, but I’m having trouble deciding exactly what it is, or perhaps more accurately to whom it applies.

Seriously, I’m not generally one to read messages into things—in fact, I probably lean too far the other direction—but on this?  Somebody needs to be fired for gross negligence, because there’s a message being sent here, intentionally or otherwise.  In fact, it’s worse if it’s unintentional.  The question is who was negligent.  The photographer for not seeing what the placement communicated?  The editor for approving use of the image on their cover?  The McCain campaign for approving the image in the first place?

Maybe all of the above.

I’ll be very interested in people’s responses on this one… and even more in People‘s response, should anyone ask them about it.

76 Responses»

    • #1
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1134
    amber simmons wrote in to say...

    Who let the darkie into the McCain family?

    The only way this cover could be better is if the headline managed to cover up her face.

    • #2
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1138
    John wrote in to say...

    Not seeing anything… let’s see the Britney sidebar – potential not so sly connection to VP’s daughter.

    I see a family photo. All women to left & mostly front and all guys to right & mostly back.

    Hhhhmmmmm, guess I will wait to see what others see…

    • #3
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1139
    Cameron Westland wrote in to say...

    Maybe I’m naive. But. I don’t get it? (FWIW I’m Canadian and don’t know anything about McCain.)

    • #4
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1149
    Jim wrote in to say...

    McCain is to blame. No question.

    • #5
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1156
    Kenny wrote in to say...

    It’s an interesting point made here, Eric. One rooted in the not only the modern negligence of journalism but that of our candidates. When image is everything to a presidential hopeful, especially one competing against a “minority” candidate – it leaves you to wonder why these things are not taken into further consideration. I have to agree with the first poster, Jim. The campaign managers and publicists of the world are the ones responsible for this kind of thing, but overall the word comes down from the top.

    • #6
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1207
    Lauren Scime wrote in to say...

    When you consider of all the care that goes into manufacturing the public image of any political candidate in this country, let alone the Republican presidential candidate, I sincerely doubt that this is an oversight on behalf of the photographer, the editor at People, the McCain camp, or any of the countless others involved in such decisions.

    What creeps me out then (but really doesn’t surprise me), is that this is intentional. This is their way of telling a certain demographic, “hey, our values are your values” in an attempt to win votes. And you know what? I think this photo is probably very indicative of their values.

    I really hope Obama wins!

    • #7
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1214
    Chris Coyier wrote in to say...

    Is the problem that there is a bunch of white people up top and a brown person at the bottom? I hope that we are past the point where every single photograph ever published needs to be “properly ethnically balanced”. Stopping a photo shoot and rearranging people to make sure you’ve achieved some arbitrary level of ethnic balance is, in my opinion, treating someone different based on the color of their skin and a bit racist.

    I can see how this may be perceived, and I understand… but I feel like making a stink about it actually makes people more acutely aware of skin color differences and leads us away from a color-blindness ideal.

    • #8
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1223
    Steve Firth wrote in to say...

    Are you refering to the “tokenism” and how she’s placed at the feet of the rest of the family?

    He also did a classic on the site of MLKs speech, talking about the struggle before handing things to his black “servant” to carry for him.

    Even now racism is everywhere especially in the news, black story = black reporter, high society and they are always white.

    McCain’s campaign also spent money on trying to associate Obama with Paris Hilton and Brittney, yet there he is sharing the cover of People.

    • #9
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1309
    antoine butler wrote in to say...

    At first, I thought, Hmmm we’re looking into this way too much. Sounds like a bunch of people (like myself) who have already decided they don’t like McCain or at least his political views. And we see the worse in any image of the man. A bad pose… YES, but an subminal message? That I don’t know.

    15 minutes later unable to think up a comment for the post I looked again. Ok, it does seem a bit “2nd class” her pose I mean. As if to say thank god this good christian family took me in, and allows me the ultimate privalage of being called “family”. Sitting at their feet? Yes a bit awkward, but the choice of copy “not so typical family” contradicts that potential visual message. It sounds to me like comparing the act of adopting a person of color to the not so typical story of Barack.

    I’m willing to bet at some point the appropriateness of the image was questioned in house @ People and in the Campaign. I’d be interested to hear those arguments.

    Verdict: Undecided. I won’t put him on blast for the image, as I don’t need to. He’s done plenty worse and much more obvious things to justify my disgust.

    • #10
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1355
    Matt Howell wrote in to say...

    At least one photographer has bragged about making McCain look awful in her photos:

    http://www.nypost.com/seven/09142008/news/politics/mac_hater_has_a_lousy_image_129007.htm

    • #11
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1401
    NiKo wrote in to say...

    I’m totally with Chris Coyier, BUT I’m not sure if this is this problem you’re pointing at

    • #12
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1405
    Peter wrote in to say...

    They’ve probably been lining up in the Traditional Social Hierarchy since all the kids were tiny. The big tall ones go in the back, and the little ones go up front on the laps of the people who don’t like standing. In our family, all the portraits were the same way — lined up from top to bottom by ability to defend the family from bears, a wagon circle seen from the inside.

    Here’s the question: why do we tend to organize our larger social structures in the same way? Habit? Genetics? Efficiency? A subconscious need to perpetuate the Patriarchy?

    Yay! Social anthropology, right out in public.

    • #13
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1409
    George Butler wrote in to say...

    I’d like to think that the placement of their adopted daughter had more to do with her height than the shade of her skin. She’s a short woman. I have to agree there’s an uncomfortable half inch distance that makes her face look like a side note rather than part of the whole.

    Compositional her placement attracts much less attention than placing her on McCain’s shoulders in amongst a backdrop of white faces. And maybe that was the goal. From the headline it doesn’t appear to be a story about adoption and growing up in a racially diverse family. So why unnecessarily highlight that?

    • #14
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1426
    Speednet wrote in to say...

    The candidates do not have editorial veto over any of these things. John McCain does not approve magazine covers, nor does his campaign. So that myth needs to be dispelled.

    Similarly, Obama’s campaign does not approve all the glowing, angelic cover shots he gets. The media does that all by itself.

    To me, the shot seems pieced together from mutliple photos, not taken all in one sitting. So the editor would be responsible in that case — not even the photographer would be responsible.

    And of course all of this points to the fact that the mainstream media is in the tank for Obama. This is not the first magazine cover that attempts to subtly (or not so subtly) tilt against McCain.

    Did you see the Us magazine cover with Sarah Palin, which superimposed huge block letters about “BABIES, LIES, and SCANDALS” over her picture? The article itself has absolutely no discussion of lies or scandals, except for the fact that some idiotic bloggers at the Daily Kos made up horriffic lies about Palin’s child. Yet the cover clearly implies that Palin herself is involved with lies and scandals.

    I believe the art of journalism would still be alive today, if not for the liberal indoctrination that occurs in universities across the planet.

    How’s that for a reaction to this blog? ;-)

    • #15
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1443
    Thomas C wrote in to say...

    All the guys on top of the women. And all the white women on top of the dark skinned.

    (puke)

    Obama For President!

    • #16
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1455
    Shane wrote in to say...

    OH MY. A guy is wearing a white shirt!!!!!!

    Seriously though, you could make the argument that the guys are “higher” in the photo than the girls (sexist?)…that one guy has messy hair (not conservative enough?)…McCain isn’t wearing a flag pin (not patriotic enough?)…Britney’s back is to the McCain family….etc.

    You could look waaayyyyy too deep into this (and anything else for that matter). Why not instead follow the politics, study the issues, and vote using an educated decision.

    Sometimes I feel like the media is running for office…

    • #17
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1455
    Lachlan Hunt wrote in to say...

    Eric, I’ve got no idea what the problem is with that cover. If, as other comments have suggested, it’s something to do with racism and the position of the black woman, then I think you’re just overreacting.

    • #18
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1459
    yaph wrote in to say...

    I am not sure whether I would have noticed the message without being pointed to it by this post. Somehow it is subtle and somehow it is like a hit in the face.

    • #19
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1601
    Brad Bice wrote in to say...

    I think this is an experiment by Eric to see what people can pick apart when given the task to do so. You can put any popular culture image up there and say “Can you believe they did that?” and people will make up something that is wrong whether they initially owuld have seen it or not.

    Not saying something isn’t wrong here, just guessing as to Eric’s intentions.

    • #20
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1642
    Andreas Sikkema wrote in to say...

    He, what’s that small piece of arm doing over there on the left hand side? Whose relationship broke up between the shoot and writing the article?


    Andreas
    Who doesn’t understand all that race business

    • #21
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1651
    Mike B wrote in to say...

    From How to Read a Movie by Roger Ebert: “n simplistic terms: Right is more positive, left more negative. Movement to the right seems more favorable; to the left, less so. The future seems to live on the right, the past on the left. The top is dominant over the bottom.” In addition to that, there’s the distance between the faces. What were they thinking!?

    • #22
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 1901
    Angie wrote in to say...

    This is sad, so very sad. I first spotted your post shortly after you made it and for the life of me I could not figure out what you were talking about. I come back to find that its about the placement of Bridget?

    In my family, we have a somewhat set position in every picture, similar to how many families have seating at the dinner table that they gravitate towards. So I used Google Images to see if I could spot a trend…

    Sure enough, if you look at photos of Bridget with her family, she’s nearly always to her mother’s right side.Sometimes families try to match older photos positioning to show how people have grown. Who really of us knows why the positioning was set this way?

    “Girls in the front, boys in the back, tall people before short people!” can easily describe how this one happened, but its only a guess.

    Bottom line: You’re reading way too much politics and/or perceived racism into a simple family photo. Leave Bridget alone already!

    • #23
    • Comment
    • Sun 14 Sep 2008
    • 2154
    Robert H wrote in to say...

    Oh no, she’s on the bottom of the cover. Is it a sexist picture because the men are displayed prominently at the top? WAIT! Is it sexist because Cindy McCain is wearing a color guaranteed to draw the eye at the exclusion of others? WAIT! Is it racist because the white kid is wearing a white shirt, obviously an archetype of purity, or racial superiority? WAIT! Is it classist because all the people are collecting a powerful, rich, white male? WAIT! Is it fat-hate because Meghan McCain, who can not be considered thin, is placed at a 3/4 profile which is used in photography to present a person’s slimmest angle?

    I could go on for hours, but suffice it to say, this post is more or less garbage.

    • #24
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 0016
    Bob Monsour wrote in to say...

    I’m with Brad Bice. This is an Ericsperiment.

    So, Eric, what gives? Cause if this is not an Ericsperiment, I don’t see it. Could you be over-thinking it?

    Regards,
    -Bob

    • #25
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 0422
    Pete B wrote in to say...

    It must be a cultural thing (I’m from the UK). There isn’t anything that seems off about it to me.

    I would guess for Americans, anything that involves a supposed ‘racial issue’, or the self-conscious dealing with racial attitudes is like treading on eggshells.

    The rest of the world doesn’t care half as much.

    • #26
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 0520
    Mike wrote in to say...

    Um… I see a photo of a family. Race will no longer be an issue when people stop seeing this kind of meaning. In this case it’s surely just a natural placement: she looks like the youngest in the family to me.

    • #27
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 0820
    Ted wrote in to say...

    What I see is an Obama supporter (or someone who is just anti McCain) making up a controversy where there is none. I also see a family who adopted a child from another country, in hopes of bettering her life and enriching theirs.

    I’d like to see the Obama family photo. Maybe they can bring over his half brother from Kenya. You know, the guy who lives on $1/month, with absolutely no help from his well to do famous brother here in America. What was that line at the DNC convention about being “my brother’s keeper”? Ouch.

    • #28
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 0833
    WhereIsThatDeafGuy wrote in to say...

    Something about the cover just seemed a little bit… off. Do you see it, too?
    Yes.

    What do I see wrong with the placement in the McCain family portrait?

    Cindy McCain is sitting alone in the center of the photo. I don’t believe anything has to do with Bridget even though I found it ironic that white women voters are leaning towards McCain due to Palin.

    Look at the photo again.
    * Why is John McCain standing instead of sitting alongside his wife?
    * Who is the head of household – Mr. or Mrs.?
    * What exactly is Mr. McCain’s role in the family? Standing instead of sitting next to her…something is seriously wrong. That is not family values, is it?

    If I were to hazard a guess, I’d say the McCain campaign team and photographer were both negligent. (McCain is a puppet and is following orders.)

    • #29
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 0926
    John wrote in to say...

    You see her at the bottom, I see her at the front.

    • #30
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1126
    Michael Montgomery wrote in to say...

    I also see a family who adopted a child from another country, in hopes of bettering her life and enriching theirs.

    Agreed.

    • #31
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1131
    Ads wrote in to say...

    is it that Cindy McCain looks kinda like Skeletor’s evil twin sister? ;-)

    • #32
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1206
    Martin Lambert wrote in to say...

    People is in the business of selling magazines. I’d guess that, if there’s any intent at all behind the specific placement of Bridget in this photo, it’s so that she’ll be seen last – to surprise people in line at the supermarket who are unfamiliar with her, and entice them into opening the magazine. I think you’d be very hard pressed to demonstrate that it’s anything more sinister than that.

    • #33
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1209
    Jason Armstrong wrote in to say...

    I think you see what you *want* to see, or what you are looking for.

    Try hard enough to find something and you will.

    The adopted daughter is very short (I saw the family side by side on TV). The guys in the back are a good deal taller. Also, they are working with a limited amount of width for the cover.

    I think the positioning is also pretty standard for group/family photos. Men clumped together and women clumped together.

    Nothing to see here. Move along people.

    • #34
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1311
    Brad wrote in to say...

    There are so many ways to divine what you want out of a photo. The only true conclusion is that the viewer is revealing themselves through their divinations.

    The first thing that I can interpret from these comments is that the intention of the actual photographer is not the first consideration, a very conspiracy-minded audience. Does nobody see that the red suits silhouette against the black suits which silhouette against the white shirts, an the blue shirt silhouettes against the white background? Does everybody think that they risked their cover by only shooting one sinister pose?

    This is the kind of knee-jerk reactionism that is frankly killing the Obama campaign. Trust in the fundamentals, and leave these dust storms behind.

    • #35
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1317
    Christian wrote in to say...

    It’s your blog, but I really wish I could filter out your political posts. Really not interested in your viewpoint in the larger context of your website. I”m very interested in your innovations with CSS and Standards, which, I believe are very helpful.

    Ditto to #27’s (Ted’s) comments.

    • #36
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1321
    Stephen Collins wrote in to say...

    I think we probably are thinking the same thing.

    I saw this in the supermarket on Sunday and thought, they are really trying to hide her in that photograph aren’t they.

    • #37
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1432
    Adrian Turner wrote in to say...

    I saw what Eric was talking about immediately. Does it bother me? No. I don’t think any one was negligent. But that’s my opinion.

    I agree with Chris Coyier, but until we start treating each other as equals then photos like this will continue to be look upon with such scorn.

    No one”s family has any bearing on how they would perform holding any office or job. If it were the case many of us would not have jobs now. I wonder how many of us would feel if the makeup of our families where used to help determine if we were qualified for a job or office?

    • #38
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 1756
    backstabb wrote in to say...

    Racism? I thought it was the whole “WTF, most of the people in that picture look like they work in Hollywood” factor.

    • #39
    • Comment
    • Mon 15 Sep 2008
    • 2245
    Andy Ford wrote in to say...

    The problem is they did the cover layout with tables

    • #40
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 0318
    Pierre wrote in to say...

    I took me about 5 minutes to actually understand what you meant in your post by saying something was wrong with this picture. I think what you wrote here was a bit far fetched, but maybe am I too naive. ;)

    Let me ask you one question : would you have even _noticed_ that picture in the store if that was Obama’s family with a white person on the bottom ?

    In my family albums, there are less black people than white people … Who’s to blame ? Should I sue someone for that :p ? Hopefully my boyfriend is black, so we can stand side by side on the photos ;)

    Seen from France, it’s surprising how you Americans sometimes have a strange attitude towards integration.

    As another comment said :
    “I think you see what you *want* to see, or what you are looking for.”

    • #41
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 0718
    FredD Yocum wrote in to say...

    For those of you who think Eric is picking at hairs. Show the cover to your African-American colleague, who is no less than one generation away from having to use a different water fountain, and ask them to read the image.

    • #42
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 0845
    Drew McLellan wrote in to say...

    I actually think this photo is a pretty difficult brief. Photograph a family of 9 adults, in a pretty constrained portrait orientation, leaving space for headline copy, but without any ‘dead’ spots showing just legs.

    Think about it – that’s not easy. And the first rule of composing a group portrait – you put the shortest people at the front and the tall ones at the back.

    • #43
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 1017
    Jennifer wrote in to say...

    I didn’t see it. Does that make me a racist because I subconsciously think it’s proper to place people beneath others based on skin color? Or, am I open-minded, blind to skin color and positioning in society?

    I took a look at our family photo. My daughter is at the top, followed by my husband, me, and finally my son. Classic girl/boy, girl/boy pose. One other thing I noticed about our portrait: I’m the only white one in it…

    • #44
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 1037
    Alan Gresley wrote in to say...

    American politicians….. (shaking my head). Well having to look at the cover I would say maybe the placement of the adoptive daughter or the text over his wife (as suggested above). John McCain looks the most dressed up (suited up). Where is this leading Eric? What did you notice?

    • #45
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 1111
    Greg Mayer wrote in to say...

    The blond one facing left isn’t smiling as widely because she doesn’t support her family’s views on the right?

    I apparently don’t see whatever you did. Looks like a fit everybody in the picture pose to me.

    You sure did get a lot of interesting responses; maybe that’s what you were actually shooting for.

    • #46
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 1333
    Joe Spooner wrote in to say...

    Seems like a cover shot for desperate houswives, except it’s for a presidential candidate. Check this photo out. It’s a very similar layout – http://crazyabouttv.com/desperatehousewives.html

    • #47
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 1523
    Tom wrote in to say...

    Looks like a botched photoshop job to me. I seriously doubt that’s a single photgraph. Do you really think the entire McCain family would all agree to sit down for a photoshoot for a tabloid??

    If there were a message being communicated, it would be that the folks at People magazine are biased against McCain and are trying to smear his image. Sigh…2008, the year journalism died.

    • #48
    • Comment
    • Tue 16 Sep 2008
    • 2352
    Porter wrote in to say...

    The problem is less the general composition of the photo and more the relative distance between Bridget and the rest of the family. The positioning of the headline serves to exaggerate the problem, sequestering Bridget off into a box in the corner looking like an afterthought (or like Florida). Almost for bonus points they’ve positioned Britney in the sidebar to complete an even ovoid composition above the headline. (We won’t even touch Beyonce being placed below Britney.)

    Keep the same overall composition but put Sidney on an apple box (probably even a half apple) and let Bridget stand or sit beside Meghan and the problem goes away. Not to mention you could probably free up enough space to run the headline on the bottom left and uncover Cindy’s gams, which couldn’t hurt sales in the red states.

    Unless… Unless that’s the real issue here — that they’re trying to cover up something wrong with Cindy’s legs. That’s it! What’s she trying to hide? We’ve got Gamgate on our hands here.

    • #49
    • Comment
    • Wed 17 Sep 2008
    • 0251
    Berta Berlin wrote in to say...

    There’s obviously a dark spot (speaking in terms of graphic design) in the lower left corner. I don’t know the McCains (don’t have to because I vote in Germany), but too me that picture looks like the lady down left is kind of a housekeeper?
    Maybe that’s a mean side blow to Obama…

    • #50
    • Comment
    • Wed 17 Sep 2008
    • 1049
    Porter wrote in to say...

    This sparked enough curiosity for me to do a little googling this morning, and I turned up a few interesting pages. First there’s this blog post that points out that Bridget’s position causes her to be the only family member hidden by People’s magazine racks:

    http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/09/where-in-world-is-bridget-mccain.html

    There’s also a decent bit of discussion in the comments there.

    Then there’s this one that says the photo was taken in a hotel room during the RNC:

    http://coverawards.com/2008/09/10/article_story_people_john_mccain_family_34718/

    It also mentions a Larry King interview with People’s managing editor, Larry Hackett, about the cover, which is at the tail end of the below transcript:

    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0809/09/lkl.01.html

    Seems to me that if it was such a big deal to have the whole family together they would’ve put a fair amount of thought into the shoot, even if it was a rush job.

    • #51
    • Comment
    • Wed 17 Sep 2008
    • 1547
    Scott Demontluzin wrote in to say...

    Tom’s right. It’s a botched photoshop job. The two things most notably wrong with this photo are that there are no
    cast shadows, and the figure in the bottom left is shot at the same eye level as the rest of the figures causing havoc with
    the overall perspective. All the figures were photographed separately and then stitched together in photoshop I’m sure the
    photoshop person and the editor realize these problems, but because of lack of time and other limitations or intentions this
    type of image becomes the standard. The image is surreal, yet it passes for normal and I think that’s where the real harm is.

    • #52
    • Comment
    • Wed 17 Sep 2008
    • 1705
    Eric Meyer wrote in to say...

    Sorry I fell out of the discussion, folks, but the extended power outage earlier this week put enormous dents in my schedule. (Not that it was anything like what Texans are suffering right now.)

    There’ve been a couple of claims of Photoshopping, but as Porter pointed out, we know the photo shoot happened at the RNC, so this could easily be an original shot with no alterations beyond exposure and saturation adjustment. Frankly, the image I posted is too low-resolution to really tell if there was Photoshoppery or not. But whether or not there was is almost completely irrelevant.

    Of course, to explain why I say that, I need to make with the followup posting. Soon, I hope.

    • #53
    • Comment
    • Thu 18 Sep 2008
    • 0443
    Khalid Akram wrote in to say...

    As a man of ‘colour’ myself originating from south east asia I think its important that we don’t over-read what is in the photo. I tend to agree with one of the earlier posters in that I would like to think that the person in the bottom-left corner could have been any colour – and it should not matter.

    But was this deliberate? Is there a subliminal going on here? I don’t know. Hard to say.

    • #54
    • Comment
    • Thu 18 Sep 2008
    • 1106
    kyle wrote in to say...

    I just think it’s funny that they have to share the cover with Britney and her Mom. They couldn’t even pull off the whole cover.

    • #55
    • Comment
    • Thu 18 Sep 2008
    • 2233
    Patrick Sweeney wrote in to say...

    If you see something more than a family photo here, you aren’t that intelligent.

    Must we over analyze everything these days?

    • #56
    • Comment
    • Thu 18 Sep 2008
    • 2249
    Eric Meyer wrote in to say...

    Finally managed the followup: People and Places.

    • #57
    • Comment
    • Fri 19 Sep 2008
    • 1247
    susan wrote in to say...

    Wow, I saw it right away…or should I say I didn’t even notice her right away buried in the left corner, at everyones feet. The problem is the people who think it’s not a big deal. It is and the professional(?) photographer and the family should have objected to it and re-posed, if they actually were all there in the first place and not photoshopped in. It’s a terrible job composing a family photo, no matter who was relegated to the floor. Especially when the most logical positioning is to have Bridget on her Mother’s left shoulder opposite her sister. Also, I felt like John was buried among giants. He looks like a peanut in the middle. Terrible composition!!

    How rude of People to not give them the whole cover! Go Obama!

    • #58
    • Comment
    • Fri 19 Sep 2008
    • 1301
    susan wrote in to say...

    Right on Eric, just read your follow up. Great Ericsperiment. It would be interesting to put different people in that lower left corner and see the reactions.

    • #59
    • Comment
    • Wed 24 Sep 2008
    • 0025
    Joe Gakenheimer wrote in to say...

    I think it is a bit insensitive to place the Bangladeshi born Bridget McCain lower than everyone else. But on the other hand, she is the youngest at around 20 years old and if you look at the image, the Mc Cain children go from oldest to youngest. If I were the editor, I would have chopped the image up differently; I would have raised Bridget Mc Cain to appear to be on the same floor as everyone else.

    • #60
    • Comment
    • Wed 24 Sep 2008
    • 1615
    Aby wrote in to say...

    I noticed the cover “issue” as soon as I saw the magazine on the rack. When the magazine is in a rack, say at the grocery store, the picture of the “other” daughter is conveniently out of view. When you pick up the magazine, SURPRISE! there she is. I think this is disgustingly racist. I do not run a magazine, but even I know the cover is NEVER overlooked or rushed. They take serious consideration into how the magazine looks on the stand so that you will buy it!
    I don’t think we’re overreacting to this…….this is the media’s way of perpetuating stereotypes and racism. I’d love to hear what they have to say about it! I agree that we need to pay attention to the political issues, but we’re also allowing the media to feed us what they think is good and right—is that not an important social issue??
    Go Obama!

    • #61
    • Comment
    • Sun 28 Sep 2008
    • 0455
    Chris wrote in to say...

    I’m a designer. At least the person everybody is moaning about does not have big yellow letters stamped across her body, then it would be a sign from the devil himself. Why hidden messages, why Aliens, why Men in black theories all of the sudden, people see what they want to see.

    C’mon people if it’s a message shame on them, but it’s probably just arranged in this manner for visual impact. The most important person here is placed in the golden third part of this image. Meaning, the woman in red. NONE of the other people serve any other purpose except to fill the image with detail and to portray the rest of the fam. IMHO

    • #62
    • Comment
    • Sun 28 Sep 2008
    • 0458
    Chris wrote in to say...

    Bangladeshi? Well there go all the black racist theories then. Why is everyone always looking for trouble? What do any of us know about their family values? If a white person was placed in the darker woman’s space, WOULD this have been “disgusting and immoral ” too? I think not.

    • #63
    • Comment
    • Sun 5 Oct 2008
    • 1452
    Ronald wrote in to say...

    Well, interesting photo. Just stumbled across this because I was looking for advice on an IE CSS bug though :)

    The first time I looked at the picture I completely missed the black woman on the left floor. She kinda falls away in the background of the dark clothes everyone else wears. She’s also dissonant in the style of her clothes. On the second look I thought: How nice, the au pair gets to be in the picture too. Since she’s obviously a servant, indicated by the position in the picture. If she is the adopted daughter, her position in the picture would indicate her first name is ‘Cinderella’ :)

    In an election year, this is not a neutral picture. However much what we read in it springs from ourselves, this picture did not do neutral placement of the persons involved.

    Disclaimer: I’m Dutch, to me both candidates are quite far removed from my daily life though I sympathize with Obama since he strikes me as a pretty nice and thoughful person.

    • #64
    • Comment
    • Wed 8 Oct 2008
    • 1757
    Paul wrote in to say...

    Hmmmm… I’m also a little offended by the term “blended” in the headline – maybe I’m reading into this too far, ’cause no one else has mentioned it!

    • #65
    • Comment
    • Fri 10 Oct 2008
    • 0710
    Mike Cherim wrote in to say...

    I thought there was also a Middle Eastern, a Native American, and an Asian in the McCain family. That’s it, no equal opportunity birthright, he lost my vote (as if he ever had it, HA).

    • #66
    • Comment
    • Sat 11 Oct 2008
    • 0512
    jiF wrote in to say...

    Horrible!

    Proves the point though, that you cannot chose your family…;-)

    • #67
    • Comment
    • Tue 14 Oct 2008
    • 1621
    Web Surfer 1 wrote in to say...

    I saw the problem the first second I looked at it. Who in their right mind would pay $5 million for a frickin wedding ring. That’s just wrong. Good catch Eric.

    • #68
    • Comment
    • Thu 16 Oct 2008
    • 1606
    Sean wrote in to say...

    I am prone to believe that her placement outside of the prominent, upmost frame of white faces is deliberate. But, I admit that I am biased against Republicans.

    I would be interested in other McCain family photos and how the adopted child is positioned. Perhaps then a more objective conclusion would be possible.

    • #69
    • Comment
    • Thu 16 Oct 2008
    • 1724
    Dean wrote in to say...

    I agree with Eric’s original post that the photo is off:

    I see one person placed bottom-left all by herself, a perfectly good empty space center-right that in comparison with the rest of the photo is very vacant; and I wonder why she wasn’t placed center-right instead.

    I think the misplacement was either an accident, or intentionally done by the photographer to make the McCains look bad and to stir up controversies such as in this blog post. Was this photo taken by the same photographer who took photos of McCain with a floodlight at his feet and photoshopped blood on his face? If so, then the reason for the misplacement is obvious.

    It’s too bad the photo was so poorly done and that it (apparently) stirred up gossipy discusssions like the ones here on MeyerWeb.

    • #70
    • Comment
    • Tue 21 Oct 2008
    • 1734
    Pete wrote in to say...

    @Ronald I agree. At first and second glance I didn’t even notice her in the picture. I actually read all the text next to her w/o realizing she was sitting right there! This might be do to the quality of the screenshot but a few observations: 1) Has anyone noticed she blends in with Mrs. McCain’s clothes 2) and that the row of people in the back are all wearing lighter clothes that would have been a better back drop for her. 3) McCain’s daughter is the only one wearing attire close to the lady’s color 4) and his daughter is positioned at an extreme angle compared to the rest (the reason this strikes me a little more odd is that if she were facing to the right, it would seem to flow better and her hair and complexion would break up the dark backdrop for the lady to the left). I hate that I can see how this could have been intentional. I really hope it wasn’t.

    • #71
    • Comment
    • Sat 25 Oct 2008
    • 0802
    Nancy Lebovitz wrote in to say...

    She’s short, but not that short. Her head comes up to McCain’s shoulder.

    If they wanted to make her look as though she was really part of the family, they would have put her head closer to the rest of the McCains.

    • #72
    • Comment
    • Mon 3 Nov 2008
    • 0925
    beth wrote in to say...

    I am flabbergasted that anyone would read into their family photo placement. How about the fact that they have a large family and the McCain’s still accepted another child who needed them into their hearts. They didn’t have to adopt her but they did because clearly they are lovely people. I am not an Obama supporter, but I would never question his devotion to his family. This is a picture of a family focused on acceptance and inclusion. Maybe it is a stair step of ages?? Please judge him on his political views and not on his family photo. This is a man of character whether you agree with him or not!

    • #73
    • Comment
    • Mon 3 Nov 2008
    • 1035
    Eric Meyer wrote in to say...

    You might want to read the followup post, Beth.

    • #74
    • Comment
    • Mon 3 Nov 2008
    • 1052
    Adam Clark wrote in to say...

    I’m amazed that the first thing people jump to is race. Why does this have to matter to people so much? Let it go people and lets all just play nice.

    Maybe, just maybe, the way this photo is arrange has f**k all to do with race. The guys are clearly taller and therefore putting them in front would obscure the rest of the family. It may be nothing to do with subserviance, merely fitting everyone on the damn photo considering the available dimensions and orientation of the magazine cover.

    The black lady is front left and apparently at the feet of the rest of the family. Does this imply an archaic image of slavery? Without knowing the details of that shoot it would be all guess work to figure out how how this composition came about. Perhaps she offered to sit, perhaps she arrived late and the shot was rushed. Or perhaps it was on purpose that she appears below the rest of the family.

    All I know is the McCain strategists, editors and all hundreds of well qualified, highly paid people must have studies this picture, as they do every word of his speeches before they’re planned and approved, and saw nothing but an innocent family picture.

    Didn’t Sigmund Freud say sometimes a cigar is just a cigar?

    • #75
    • Comment
    • Mon 3 Nov 2008
    • 1821
    Paul B. wrote in to say...

    This photo is striking for a number of reasons. Here you have a family with a member who’s a person of color and she’s placed in the bottom left corner of the image (almost as an after thought) as opposed to center right/left, etc. Now some of you may not notice this, but whenever a person of color is on tv or in any type of print ad, they’re are almost always placed on the left of the image.

    During the debates where was Barack seated?

    In my eyes, this is more than just a coincidence.

    • #76
    • Comment
    • Mon 10 Nov 2008
    • 1315
    Mohamed wrote in to say...

    I am originally from India. I voted for Obama.

    I see no problem with thi picture. Seems like teh photogropher was working with limited space for the cover shoot and since Bridget (McCain’s adopted daughter) is short, she was placed in a spot where she would not be hidden.

    Look, I am no fan of John McCain, but give the McCains for doing something good…giving this girl a life that she would never have had in teh orphanage in Bangladesh.

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