Esquire’s Cover Caught with Its Pants Down

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In celebration of Esquire‘s 75th anniversary this October, the magazine is recreating four classic covers. This month’s issue features Stephen Colbert mimicking George Lois’ classic image of an arrow-pierced Muhammad Ali. (ASME ranked the original as its No. 3 all-time cover.)

The project is an interesting idea, and we support celebrating the magazine’s achievements and tradition of excellence. But we can’t help feeling like this one misses the mark.

Beautiful women will always be beautiful women, but going from Ali to Colbert cheapens the original. As Graydon Carter said in a recent New York Times article about Lois’ work, “[In the past] you didn’t have to put low-grade movie stars on the cover to move magazines. You could put ideas there.”

The Colbert cover is not an idea, it’s a sales ploy. Esquire should be better than that.