Visual Analysis of Time Magazine's Person of the Year for Their 2017 Cover

Published: 2021-09-14 10:25:09
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The title of the cover, “Person of the Year,” suggests that these women are important. They aren’t just on any cover for TIME. But TIME chose them as their person of the year to honor them. Below the title, they have the words ‘The Silence Breakers, the voices that launched a movement.’ TIME Magazine is calling these women the silence breakers because they were brave enough to break their silence, telling their stories. Their voices launched a movement for other women to be brave enough to come forward with their stories too. All of those words are white to complement the darker colors and they are all in caps to show the importance. According to Mcbride (2016) Time Magazine has its own font, called Time Magazine font. Mcbride (2016) explained that it closely resembles Times New Roman. Mcbride (2016) said that TIME Magazine often goes with the color red for their covers, to call attention to different elements on the page. However, for this cover they chose black. Black to go along with the women wearing black. The Silence breakers are all in caps as well as ‘The voices that launched a movement.” Time Magazine uses this Franklin Goth typeface to draw attention. That and the fact that it’s all in caps suggests that it’s important.
There are six people featured on the cover. Five of those women are fully featured. According to Chan (2017) the arm at the edge of the photo is of a woman who did not want her name mentioned in the magazine for fear of how it might impact herself and her family. The women represent a variety of different races to show that this happens across all ages, races, colors, etc. It happens all over the world.The colors chosen are dark. The women are all wearing black and the grey behind them seems to intensify it. Linz (2017), one of the photographers of the cover photo, explained that they have always been interested in the balance between black with softer colors to balance it. The women are also seen wearing black of course, because black was the chosen color at the golden globes for women to support this movement. People wondered why the color black was chosen. But according to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund (2018), who spearheaded the Globes blackout, the color black was chosen because almost everyone owns the color, and it’s a serious color. Steele (2018) said that black is a powerful color. Steele (2018) also said that black is a color in history that has been chosen to show respect for troops, during World War II, but it is also a color that has been shown to be a symbol of defiance. Steele (2018) said it was the hope that black would attract attention. “The Gloves protesters are hoping that while it will convey something serious, it will also attract people who might refuse to wear something else serious, like frumpy shoes”.
There are various triangles you can see in the photo. One at the left side between Ashley Judd who is standing up, and Susan Fowler who is sitting down, they form a triangle with Fowler’s head and Judd’s arm. At the bottom of the photo, a smaller triangle is formed between Fowler and Adama Iwu who is in the front of the photo. On the right, you can see another triangle formed just down from the words “TIME” that seem to form a triangle with Judd standing, down to Isabel Pascual and Taylor Swift who is standing at the very right of the cover. Another triangle forms between the three women sitting down, Iwu and Pascual with the arm at the corner. Triangles point to and lead to. All of these women are individuals but the triangles are pointing and leading to the other women, and seems to unify them all as one since this issue draws them all together. They all have separate, different stories, but the triangles all help to draw the women as one unified voice. Felsenthal (2017) mentioned that the photographers wanted the women to be represented individually but also to have a group shot that added to the whole story and went together as a unit, the shape of the women add to that unified story.
There are both horizontal lines and vertical lines in this photo. The women standing up are vertical lines, conveying the energy and passion these women have. And yet, the subject matter is also calm. They have told their stories and so the horizontal lines of the women sitting down convey their calm. They’ve told their truth and they are going to stick by it. The horizontal and vertical lines all seem to balance each other out really well, just like the women seem to balance one another out well to add to the story.
The women are eye level with the audience. That’s important to point out because it is much more effective this way. Their stories seem to reflect from their eyes, as if to say what they have to say is important and should be listened to. It wouldn’t have been very effective if they would have been seen above or below the audience. They are equal with the audience; their stories don’t make them any less than anybody else because of what they’ve been through.
Indexical Reading
For the cover photo, TIME Magazine chose the photography duo, known as Billy and Hells. Anke Linz, one of the photographers said in an interview with Kira Pollak, a reporter for TIME Magazine, that it was important for them to portray the women’s strength and spirit. Pollak (2017) said the cover shoots took place in two locations, Los Angeles and San Francisco, and the final image was a composite. “It was the first time any of the subjects had met, and they shared a few tears with each other as well as their stories,” Pollak said.
Linz said the challenge for the team was to make a group portrait, but one where the women were all individuals as well. Andreas Oettinger, the other half of the photography duo, said their goal for the cover was to get the correct proportions from one person to the next right. “It was each individual voice and own unique story that added to the ultimate amplification,” Oettinger said.
Not only did the photographers do a group shot, but they created a series of 24 photographs over a ten-day period of each woman on the cover, but also of more men and women who had come forward. Linz said the team gets their inspiration from painters in the Middle Ages for lighting and color palette ideas. “We saw in the paintings that soft colors get their strength in combinations with deep blacks and it took a long time to infuse that thinking into our work,” Linz (2017) said. Oettinger said it was important to keep it simple for the portrait while giving the issue the right respect and the right distance.
Felsenthal (2017) the editor-in-chief of TIME Magazine, said they commissioned the photographers because their work had the emotion and power they were looking for, for a piece like this. Felsenthal (2017) said they chose the women on the cover that they did because they are ‘The Silence Breakers.” There were many men and women represented in Time Magazine’s whole magazine issue, but the women chosen for the cover were not only chosen to represent a variety of people, but because these women also helped spearhead the movement in their own right. These women chosen represent different races, different classes, etc. This issue happens all over the world to regular people and to superstars shown by the cover. There are celebrities featured, and regular everyday people. These women however, in spite of the differences, came together to be photographed and interviewed, joined in a common cause.
Felsenthal (2017) said the designers and photographers took individual shots, and those were followed by individual video interviews with each of the men and women TIME Magazine featured in the December issue of TIME Magazine, 2017. “We made a lot of portraits in a short window of time, but what was interesting for us and important for the story, was the mixture of people,” Linz said.
Actress, Ashley Judd on the cover, was the one that broke the news about Harvey Weinstein, a Hollywood producer who has been accused of sexually assaulting dozens of women. “Women have been talking about Harvey amongst ourselves for a long time, and it’s simply beyond time to have the conversation publicly,” Judd said.
Taylor Swift was chosen because, though her case happened months before the #MeToo campaign kicked off, it also inspired women to start coming forward. Swift was sued by a former radio show host who claimed that he lost his job when she made a complaint about him to his boss that he had groped her butt during a photo shoot. Swift countersued for a symbolic $1 and won the case. Swift said people tried to make her feel bad about the consequences her harasser faced. Swift fought back. “I’m not going to let you or your client make me feel in any way that this is my fault,” she said. “I’m being blamed for the unfortunate events of his life that are a product of his decisions, not mine”. During her interview with TIME, Swift said that moment on the stand, fueled her anger. “I figured that if he would be brazen enough to assault me under these risky circumstances, imagine what he might do to a vulnerable, young artist if given the chance,” she said.
McMahon (2017) said Susan Fowler, a former engineer at Uber, left her position because her manager kept proposition her for sex. Fowler said she took screenshots and reported him to HR, but her reports were dismissed. McMahon (2017) said Fowler left the company and started a blog, which sparked a full investigation at Uber. Felsenthal (2017) said that due to this investigation, the CEO Travis Kalanick ended up resigning. Fowler said she was overwhelmed by all of the messages of support. Felsenthal (2017) said that in an interview with Fowler for TIME Magazine, she admitted to being hesitant to come forward. “If you do speak out, the fear is there that your complaint will become your identity,” she said.
Felsenthal (2017) said Iwu was chosen for the cover because she started the ‘We Said Enough campaign’ a campaign where she got 147 women to sign an open letter calling out the sexual discrimination and harassment in California politics. Felsenthal (2017) said in the letter, they called out Harvy Weinstein and other politicians and said they weren’t at all surprised to find out about Weinstein. Iwu said in an interview with TIME, “You have to address sexual harassment and assault head on and as a group,” she said. “It’s hard to call 147 women liars because we can’t all be crazy and sluts,” (McMahon, 2017, par. 28).
Felsenthal (2017) said Isabel Pascual was chosen for the cover because she made a speech at a march in Los Angeles in the midst of the Weinstein Scandal. Felsenthal (2017) said that Pascual is a Mexican strawberry picker who wanted to give other agricultural workers a voice. Pascaul told TIME, “I said enough, I lost the fear. It doesn’t matter if they criticize me,” she said “I can support other people who are going through the same thing.” Chan (2017), a reporter for TIME Magazine, said the elbow in the right-hand corner belongs to an anonymous young hospital worker from Texas. “Her appearance is an act of solidarity, representing all those who are not yet able to come forward and reveal their identities,” Chan said.
Felsenthal (2017) said the whole magazine spread was geared toward the women. “It was apparent that this story had a velocity and scale beyond anything else that we had seen,” he said. Felsenthal (2017) said in the weeks after the hashtag #MeToo first surfaced, hundreds of men and women from over 85 different countries came forward with their stories against harassment and assault. Felsenthal (2017) said it was important for him and his design team to show how important this issue is, not only with the cover but with the whole magazine spread. And with any magazine, the cover is the most important aspect. If it does not draw attention, then the reader won’t open it up to read it.
Time Magazine has been choosing a person of the year every year for a while now. Felsenthal (2017) claimed that this was their 91st time choosing a person of the year. This year was a crucial one for TIME Magazine, to draw attention to people and a subject that is important. Golderberg (2017) assistant managing editor, mentioned that they usually honor Presidents, Prime Ministers, Popes, etc. “This year is an important reminder that the world can be transformed from the ground up,” he said.
Felsenthal (2017) said it was important to recognize these men and women in their magazine spread because a movement was started with their courage in stepping forward. “It became a hastag, a movement, a recocking,” Felsenthal said. “But it began, as a great social change nearly always does, with individual acts of courage”. Felsenthal (2017) claimed that because of these women who came forward, it launched one of the greatest shifts in our culture since the 1960’s. “Social media acted as a powerful accelerant; the hashtag #MeToo has now been used millions of times in at least 85 countries,” he said.
Felsenthal (2017) said it’s still hard to tell how far-reaching this movement will be since it’s just starting. Felsenthal (2017) also said it’s still hard to tell how much back-lash these women will face because of their courage. “Indeed, the biggest test of this movement will be the extent to which it changes the realities of people for whom telling the truth simply threatens too much,” he said. Felsenthal (2017) said that regardless of the uncertainties, it was important for TIME magazine to recognize these women and their acts of courage. It was important for them to choose these men and women as their person of the year. “For giving voice to open secrets, for moving whisper networks onto social networks, for pushing us all to stop accepting the unacceptable, the Silence Breakers are the 2017 Person of the Year,” he said.

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