tuque /tūk/ n Canadian English, var. toque [19th c. Canadian French, from the French toque, from the Basque tauka] 1 A close-fitting knitted cap, often with a long tapering end or tassel or pompom. 2 fig Something quintessentially Canadian.
souq /sūk/ n from the Arabic سوق var. souk 1 An open-air marketplace. 2 fig A central meeting place for the circulation of news and ideas.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Fine Art of Magazine Cover Virality

When did we all become so completely obsessed with magazine covers?

It seems none of us can get enough suggestive poses, egregious photoshopping, bold breastfeeding, Zuckerberg hate-ons, Demi rip-offs or wholesome conservative cleavage (not exactly Maxim is it?).

Indeed, this recent AdWeek retrospective of arresting magazine covers is mostly T&A, and no where does it suggest that you actually read these mags.

The new cover of Foreign Policy, a so-called Sex Issue (wait, wasn't this issue sexy enough?) would be an arrestable offence in many countries (which is essentially the point of author Mona Eltahawy's cover story).

The recent Cover of the Year winner at the American National Magazine Awards? Yup, not exactly Martha Stewart Living.

There's even more to the cover craze: covers that didn't make it to print but we still want to go viral; covers that exploit your infatuation with non-print media; covers that test your capacity for irony, and covers that suggest a certain someone is gee-ay-why.

(Before being outed Obama was also a tiny-headed Jewish Mullah Rodin sculpture.)

There are even covers that aren't even covers yet, hence this masterful mash-up of future magazine covers from New York magazine.

And then there are covers that circumvent breasts and rainbows and go to right to subliminal messaging for a certain Canadian Prairie town (suck it, Winnipeg!).

What do all these covers have in common? They appear to be based on the idea that going viral (which all these covers have to varying degrees, except those Martha Stewart eggs) is the best way to sell a magazine brand, if not an actual magazine.

And you know what? It works. Will you ever forget the images of breast-munching chair-boy or body-paint burqa, even after Twitter has short-circuited your temporal lobe? No. Will you actually believe the American president is a homosexual when you pull his lever in November? Maybe.

Will you remember that these covers stood in for forward-thinking social debates on post-feminist parenting, post-nationalist feminism and post-stupidity human rights? Probably not. But then, you (and I) probably hadn't read the issue by the time you helped its cover go viral.

Hooray for the new magazine model: look, but don't touch!

Oh, and while I've got you panting for magazines, check out the Best Cover nominees for the Canadian National Magazine Awards. The winner will be announced June 7.