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Trump’s magazine cover conveys hidden messages

December 11, 2016

Donald Trump, president-elect of the United States, has been named Time Magazine’s 2016 Person of the Year. For 90 years in a row, Time Magazine has named “the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year,” and this year, they have named the soon-to-be ruler of a divided nation. Whether he had a positive or negative influence on the surrounding world, one fact is indisputable: Donald Trump made a massive impact.

From riots in the streets, to tears in the eyes- both from joy and despair- citizens across the country have had intense reactions to Donald Trump’s election. For this reason, Time has chosen Donald Trump as their person of the year. In honor of the award, Donald Trump’s portrait was on the cover of the Dec. 19, 2016 issue of Time. This portrait, though, offers suggestions of various political commentary. In order to understand the cover, let us analyze three key elements of the cover: the color, the pose, and the chair as explained in

The color is reminiscent of vintage photography. Specifically, it is similar to the Kodachrome filter, a photography filter produced by Kodak that was especially popular during the World War Two era. Therefore, the mind immediately wanders to other prominent world leaders, specifically those during that era. These leaders include past Person of the Year Awards, including Hitler, Stalin.

In addition, Trump’s campaign based a lot of its policy stances on those of regressive politics, like anti-environmental protection and anti-abortion stances. This sort of advocation is reminiscent of World War Two-like stances, those that seemed to advocate for the way things used to be. Hitler had a remarkably similar portrait that was taken for his cover of Time, when he was Time’s Man of the Year in 1938. Both Trump and Hitler were seated in a chair, striking poses of mischievous power.

The pose takes a multi-faceted approach at conveying the message of power to the reader. First, Trump being seated conjures the idea of being forced to approach him, making the viewer submit to Trump’s wishes. The president-elect will not work for the viewer, they must work for him.

The position that the photographer Nadav Kander has placed Trump in renders a conspiratorial tone. It almost seems as if Trump has turned to look back at the viewer and say, with a smirk, “look how we have fooled all of those in front of us.” Trump seems to implicate the viewer in his antics, as if the viewer is included in Trump’s inner circle of confidantes.

The chair serves as a foreshadowing element, looking forward to Trump’s upcoming presidency. At first glance, the chair is a vintage, expensive and luxurious chair that is reminiscent of Trump’s background as a wealthy businessman. Upon further inspection, though, one notices a tiny rip in the fabric of the chair.

All too quickly, one can see all the flaws within the chair: the rips, the stains, the marks. The façade of perfection has begun to crack; the image of the deteriorating chair reflects the nation as a whole: a once harmonious solid that has begun to break apart.

Overall, the photograph serves as a haunting prediction of the years to come. Time magazine has managed to create a political statement within a simple photograph that leaves its readers uncomfortable and on-edge. No matter one’s political opinions, the country is sure to anxiously await what decisions the new president will make.

Donald Trump has been elected Time Magazine’s 2016 Person of the Year. His portrait may convey some political commentary.


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