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Trending that caught Doug's eye... controversial magazine covers

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What with the search for the missing jetliner, the crisis in Ukraine and the stunning election results in Quebec, we suspect most of you are gripped by the latest scandal rocking the world of golf.

This searing scandal erupted after the venerable magazine Golf Digest put model Paulina Gretzky on the cover of its new issue wearing hot white yoga pants, a barely-there sports bra, and resting on a golf club as if it was a stripper pole while flaunting her toned tummy.

Golf Digest editor-in-chief Jerry Tarde defended the provocative cover, noting that as the daughter of NHL legend Wayne Gretzky and the fiancée of PGA Tour pro Dustin Johnson, Paulina is a major golf celebrity "and she also might get some new people interested in the game."

But members of the Ladies Professional Golf Association -- which last had a player featured on the magazine's cover in 2008 -- aren't exactly buying it.

"It's frustrating for female golfers," grumbled Stacy Lewis, who has won two major titles and was briefly No. 1 in the world last year. "It's kind of the state of where we've always been. We don't get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time, you'd like to see a little respect for the women's game."

The cover has spawned some hilarious parodies -- one photographer shot a bunch of male friends in the same pose wearing identical skimpy outfits -- but it has also reminded us of some of the most controversial covers of all time, including these famous five:

5) The cover: National Lampoon (January 1973): "If You Don't Buy This Magazine, We'll Kill This Dog"

The controversy: If you were looking for counterculture, controversy and gleeful bad taste in the 1970s, the groundbreaking American humour magazine National Lampoon was your Bible. Its most coveted and collected issue of all time featured a notorious cover shot in which a human hand holds a revolver to the head of a worried-looking dog, who suspiciously eyes the handgun with a sideways glance of concern. In 2005, the American Society of Magazine Editors rated it the seventh-greatest magazine cover of the last 40 years. According to online reports, photographer Ronald G. Harris -- working in pre-Photoshop days -- had a tough time getting the dog to look humorous instead of pathetic. The answer? Apparently, when the revolver was cocked, the clicking sound caused the dog's eyes to shift into the famously tragic position. Yes, we bought several copies of the magazine.


4) The cover: Vanity Fair (August 1991): Demi Moore, Pregnant and Nude

The controversy: It might seem hard to believe that a magazine cover can have a lasting impact on society, but this one seems to fit the bill. Rated the second-greatest cover of all time by the American Society of Magazine Editors, it was shot by legendary celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz. It featured a very naked and very pregnant Demi Moore covered by her strategically placed arms and wearing only a diamond ring. At the time, the 28-year-old actress was seven months pregnant with her second daughter with film star Bruce Willis. It became one of the magazine's most memorable covers ever and spawned a pop-culture trend. Demi was the first celebrity to appear naked and pregnant on a cover, but she has been followed by a growing list of pregnant stars, including Britney Spears and Jessica Simpson. In 1991, critics condemned it as "vulgar" and some stores either sent the issue back or sold it with a brown paper covering. Supporters, like Demi, lauded Vanity Fair for embracing womanhood. "I did feel glamorous, beautiful and more free about my body," Demi chirped of the cover. "I don't know how much more family-oriented I could possibly have gotten."


3) The cover: Rolling Stone (Jan. 22, 1981): John Lennon and Yoko Ono

The controversy: Featuring another timeless photo by Leibovitz, this cover has been rated as the greatest of all time by the American Society of Magazine Editors. According to news reports, on Dec. 8, 1980, Leibovitz tried to get a shot of Lennon on his own, as requested by Rolling Stone. But the former Beatle insisted his wife, Yoko, be on the cover with him, so the photographer had the superstar take off his clothes and curl up next to a fully clothed Yoko on the floor in the Dakota, his New York City apartment. Leibovitz has been quoted as saying: "You couldn't help but feel that he was cold and he looked like he was clinging to her. I think it was amazing to look at the first Polaroid and they were both very excited. John said, 'You've captured our relationship exactly. Promise me it'll be on the cover.' I looked him in the eye and we shook on it." John was shot and killed five hours later outside the apartment. The photo was used on the cover of Rolling Stone's tribute issue on Jan. 22, 1981.


2) The cover: Time (June 27, 1994): O.J.'s Mugshot

The controversy: With O.J. Simpson on trial for the murder of his wife Nicole and her friend Ronald Goldman, Time and Newsweek magazines published the same cover image of the former football star and cheesy actor. Newsweek used the unaltered mug shot of Simpson supplied by the Los Angeles Police Department. In contrast, in a dramatic example of poor judgment, Time digitally altered the image, darkening O.J.'s face in what critics saw as a bid to make him appear more menacing. At the time, managing editor James R. Gaines was forced to defend the venerable magazine against accusations of racism. He acknowledged the photo had been given to an artist who was asked to interpret it. Here's what he said: "The harshness of the mug shot -- the merciless bright light, the stubble on Simpson's face, the cold specificity of the picture -- had been subtly smoothed and shaped into an icon of tragedy. The expression on his face was not merely blank now; it was bottomless." Sure, James, sure.


1) The cover: Time (April 8, 1966): "Is God Dead?"

The controversy: It was the year Time learned you can judge a magazine by its cover. The issue is widely considered to be Time's most controversial cover ever -- featuring, for the first time in the magazine's history, text with no accompanying image. The cover was simply black with, in large red text, this provocative question: "Is God Dead?" In the days before social media, the backlash was fast and furious, with more than 3,500 angry letters sent to the editor, reportedly the most responses to a single story in Time's history. And Time knows about controversy, such as the firestorm that erupted Jan. 2, 1939, when it named Hitler as Man of the Year. Inside the 1966 issue, the cover story featured the opinions of prominent theologians and scholars and discussed the "death of God movement" that had a brief popularity in the 1960s. The American Society of Magazine Editors rated it the 12th-greatest cover of the past 40 years, whereas the Los Angeles Times, in 2008, named the issue as one of "10 magazine covers that shook the world."


Somehow we have to think there is a message in here about Paulina Gretzky's impact on the stodgy game of golf, but we doubt anyone would be willing to read the article.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 12, 2014 D2

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