9:58 am Sep. 21, 20121
Each day, the New York tabloids vie to sell readers at the newsstands on outrageous headlines, dramatic photography, and, occasionally, great reporting. Who is today's winner?
LEIBOVITZ CHANNELS HINE, RITTS, MAPPLETHORPE
It's fall, heading into the fourth quarter, which means boom time for the glossy magazines. These are the months where the splashiest photo shoots and covers hit the newsstands.
And yet fall is usually a bigger news season than the preceding ones, so you generally see more front page stories on the tabloids that are premised on "There are some photos in another magazine today." In the summer there just isn't that much stuff jockeying for the front page; in late September, the competition should be fierce. Which is why it was weird to see the Tim Tebow shoot for Vogue take up most of the Post front page.
Sure it's easy: The photos will be beautiful, and recognizable faces will be in them. But the stories are so heavily brokered there's never anything of substance in them. The result is that the distillation of the profile into a few sentences surrounded by photos that appears in the Post is almost bafflingly boring.
But shall we take the opportunity to talk about this photo of Tim Tebow moving a giant tire? It's already raised the ire of Jets fans mystified that the magazine should profile "a homeschooled evangelical second-string football player," and marveling at the conniptions in the text to justify the piece ("That's how you get Timmy Tebow into Vogue—you turn him into a lost Kennedy cousin").
What is, to me, even more remarkable is a different nerd-problem with the photo shoot. In order, after asking around for help identifying why this looked so familiar and yet so wrong, three different photos were sent my way:
And, in Vogue:
So on a surface level, football player Tim Tebow is … moving a giant tire in front of a rockface for no reason. In the earlier photos, the first, part of Herb Ritts' "Fred With Tires" series, is a pretend work situation involving a model; the second, a W.P.A. photo by Lewis Hine known as "Powerhouse Mechanic," is a real work situation involving a real worker (albeit one who was chosen carefully and for a reason); the third is an art photo with a model (Robert Mapplethorpe).
Has a vein of visual references ever been so carefully calculated only to be so pointlessly deployed?
iPhone 5 day
A new angle on an Apple release date: There are cops there debuting a new anti-theft initiative. Well it beats the straight-up interview with people waiting in line.
I have some punctuation rules to lay down for the Daily News: The giant all-caps treatment is probably enough to make the headline scream without replacing the question mark, which is traditional after a question like "say what?" with an exclamation point. But that orthographic quibble is secondary to the fact that the story, which is that Derek Jeter said something to an ESPN interviewer about how he might not be a life-long Yankee (information that was actually delivered to him by Yankees management, to his amazement, during his last contract negotiation), says almost the opposite of what the cover implies. No, it isn't shocking. So why is it on the front? It's as though the News wants us to live in the moment they lived in before they realized this wasn't a story, then turn to the story and draw the same conclusion they should have, but didn't.
Dina Lohan blah blah blah, Robin Roberts blah.
What a mess. The one thing I can say is that at least the News has its own fake story, instead of a fake story about someone else's fake story.
Winner: Daily News.
We've been doing this weekday column now for more than two years. (Recently one reader said that his rough estimate was that the Post has won 289 times, the News 160.) We changed the format recently, and now, in response to something a few readers have asked for, we're thinking of producing the column as an email.
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