Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Is The Michelle Bachmann Newsweek Cover Sexist?!?

One of the unfortunate tradeoffs of running a high profile Presidential campaign is the intense media scrutiny that a candidate receives. Past voting records, business deals, tax and criminal records, even personal relationships are all suddenly fair game. Of course, this is a double edged sword. The scrutiny sucks, but it also legitimizes a candidate as a serious threat. When's the last time you heard anyone talking about Rick Santorum or Herman Cain?

Michelle Bachmann is no stranger to media scrutiny. Even before declaring herself as a candidate for the GOP nomination, she frequently was the butt of many jokes for her numerous gaffes and far-out-there stances on issues like gay marriage and light bulbs (yeah, really). Her ascent to the frontrunner in this weekend's Iowa Straw Poll has only intensified the media criticism. Some of it (receiving farm subsidies and applying for earmarks while she's vilified both) has been fair. Some of it (the tsk tsk rumors about her husband's sexual preferences) hasn't been.

As far as this latest story goes, well, it's somewhere in the middle.
Newsweek's latest issue features a Michele Bachmann cover that's sure to stir up controversy.

The cover shows Bachmann standing against a stark blue background, looking directly into the camera with a wide-eyed expression. The headline advertising the magazine's story reads, "THE QUEEN OF RAGE."

"Rage" is a word that doesn't appear in Newsweek's actual profile of Bachmann, though author Lois Romano does criticize what she calls the "radical" nature of the Tea Party that Bachmann champions.

Conservative websites are already crying foul over the cover, with some saying it makes Bachmann look "crazy" and one blogger asking, "Can anyone really say with a straight face that the mainstream media is not totally biased against conservatives?"

It's not the first time Newsweek has faced conservative backlash for a cover. In June, the magazine portrayed Mitt Romney as one of the stars of the Broadway show "The Book of Mormon." And, of course, it drew widespread criticism for its infamous Sarah Palin cover in 2009.
You could look at this two ways.

The cover is somewhat sexist because it doesn't paint Bachmann is the best light. Given the number of snaps your typical photographer takes for such a high profile cover, it's fair to assume there were better pictures available to choose from. Pairing an unflattering picture with an unflattering caption (and a very unflattering story... which should be the real story here) only advances the notion that Bachmann is too batsh*t crazy to be taken seriously. It's also unlikely they'd treat a man like this, so it must be sexist. Even NOW agrees.

On the flipside, having observed Bachmann in person, close up, I see this a bit differently. Quite honestly, she just isn't a very photogenic woman. Period. I'm not calling her unattractive (I personally don't care) but she is somewhat awkward looking. Her head/body radio is waaay outta whack. She does indeed have that strange Psycho look to her, even when she isn't on camera. It's just who she is. Newsweek could have been trying to capture the true essence of the woman, and this might have been their attempt to do so. That wouldn't really be sexist, since Newsweek has given a similar treatment to both Obamas. It is what it is.

To Bachmann's credit, she's been a big girl about this, and has played the obvious "I haven't even seen it" card when asked her thoughts. Of course that's entirely untrue, but I give her credit for not playing the "woe is me!" victim card like you know who would. I don't agree with a single one of her opinions (not even one) but she gets my respect for that at least.

Question: I think we can all agree that the Newsweek cover photo is unflattering. But is it really sexist, or just an accurate depiction of the candidate?Is this Newsweek cover

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