The past week bore witness to two bold stances that made for a pair of controversial covers. President Barack Obama took a historic stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, telling ABC’s Robin Roberts, “I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.” Personal politics were also brought to the forefront on a Time cover that showed one mother breastfeeding her 3-year-old son. (Time is owned by Time Inc., the publisher of EW.)
The attention-grabbing headline about Obama, who is outfitted with a rainbow halo on Newsweek‘s cover, is a throwback to Pulitzer Prize-winner Toni Morrison’s 1998 proclamation that Bill Clinton was “our first black President.” Clinton was in the midst of a presidency-defining moment: His impeachment trial. Obama, too, seems to be in the midst of a defining moment in declaring his opinions on an issue he has been thus far rather middle-of-the-road. Considering the impending election and the nationwide fracture over the topic of same-sex marriage, Newsweek‘s declaration takes a pretty radical stance.
On the other hand, it’s less the topic of Time’s story than the provocative cover imagery that makes for readers’ strong reactions. The story itself covers the growing Attachment Parenting movement, which is certainly a hot button topic, but it’s really the extreme imagery — a model-like 26-year-old child sharing a private experience (and with a child that many would consider too old to still breastfeed) in such a public manner — that makes for a boundary-busting moment.
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