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Protecting U.S. from Ourselves

While browsing facebook today, I came across this little demotivational gem (props to Derek for sharing):

I couldn’t quite believe it. This seems like something a mischievous reddit troll might make up to stir a commotion. So I checked the facts myself. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a screenshot from the Time Magazine website:

This clearly looks like a case of Big Brother, like the media is coddling Americans — or worse, keeping them away from thoughts of revolution. But don’t get all worked up quite yet. Perhaps we should take a look at past covers in the same way to see if this was as flagrant of an offense as it seems.

This one is from last week. While the rest of the world got to read about Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s pro-Islamist prime minister, Americans were reading about the 50 best inventions of the year. This is even more interesting, since the aforementioned revolution story does appear in the US version of the magazine, just not on the cover. From what I can see, Ergodan doesn’t show up in the American version at all.

And get your hackles up for this one!

If you can’t read it, the yellow cover says “Why Mom Liked You Best: the Science of Favoritism,” while the other covers says “Why Germany Can’t Save The World.” Another seeming bit of fluff for the ‘Murricans while the rest of the world gets hard politics.

Oh, but wait! What’s this?

Looks like the rest of the world got their fluff eventually. And to boot, most issues featuring American stories went to every country, including the issues covering Rick Perry, 9/11, Hillary Clinton, and (arguably an American story) Steve Jobs.

My point is that we shouldn’t be jumping to the conclusion that the media is conspiring against American citizens based on a single magazine cover. These differences are most likely due to sales research — what picture will make an American buy my magazine? What picture will make a European buy my magazine? With this angle, maybe Americans should be looking inward for what crap they’re more likely to buy.

Oh, and I know you were worried, and it’s okay. They made sure Dr. Oz’s name got a spot on every cover the week of September 12th.

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer (aka Smashley) is a saxophonist and writer living in Chicago, where she performs regularly with the funk band FuzZz and jazz ensemble Big Band Boom. She also does standup comedy, sort of, sometimes. Her tenor saxophone's name is Ladybird.

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  1. This clearly looks like a case of Big Brother, like the media is coddling Americans — or worse, keeping them away from thoughts of revolution.

    Actually I’m fairly confident it’s because they’ve learned over and over again that fluff covers sell more magazines, at least at this particular point in our history.

    We are our own Big Brother.

  2. I saw this today (because “we have a blog?”) and my naive reaction was “They don’t want us to get any ideas (regarding revolution)!!” But then I thought some more and I came to the sad conclusion of “No, it’s more like U.S. readers don’t care/want to care about world topics.”

    Hanlon’s Razor guides my life once again…

  3. That’s an almost perfect example of hasty generalization and this post is an almost perfect example of skepticism in action. Fantastic.

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