The New Yorker
July, 1966 – The cover of the July 2nd, 1966 edition of The New Yorker includes artwork by Michael Getz. Displaying a show of patriotism, Getz uses the entire portion of the cover to present an illustration of an American flag hanging from the front of a typical upper-middle class designed home. However, other than the title of the magazine and the drawing itself, the only other printed words contained on the cover are the date of the issue and the price of the magazine; 35 cents.
July, 1986 – The July 7th, 1986 edition of The New Yorker presents a cover with a cartoon illustration of a woman holding a very large birthday/celebration cake. Similar to the rhetoric of the 1966 issue, John Biechman uses the colors of red, white, and blue within the woman’s dress to portray the patriotic feeling of our Independence Day, “The Fourth of July”. In addition to the American flag colors within the woman’s dress and garment Biechman includes a figure of the Statue of Liberty on top of the cake to further express a feeling of patriotism.
July, 1996 – The July 8th, 1996 edition of The New Yorker once again includes the theme of nationalism with Jeremy Falcone’s image of the Statue of Liberty holding a “sparkler” fire work in its hand. Interestingly enough Joseph Pulitzer, founder of The New York World & Pulitzer Prize, was partially responsible for obtaining the statue from the country of France. Pulitzer used his public influence and image to collect nickels & dimes from immigrants, convincing such immigrants the statue would be a symbol of their newly gained freedom. Moreover, even though the price of the magazine has gone from 35 cents in 1966 to $2.95 in 1996, the display and headline of the cover are exactly the same as they were thirty years before (i.e.: Plain and clear title of publication, no preview of articles included, and no running ads on the front page).
Alcohol/Gin – A majority, if not over half of all the ads contained within the edition are pertaining to alcohol. In specific, gin appears to be the most popular and targeted liquor of the era, with the theme “Dryer is Better”. Evidence of how predominant such a theme was is Gancia, an imported Italian Vermouth. Gancia is actually advertised as “drier than gin itself”. Furthermore, most of the gin ads tend to be aimed at a high-culture interest, and are generally imported and distilled from England.
Women’s Clothing – Many of the ads within the publication contain women’s clothing & beauty products, with an underlying intent to feed into the insecurities of women by creating additional needs within our American culture. For example, Bonwit’s Shoulder Holder “could quite easily accommodate beach gear, cameras, flight essentials and more”. Bonwit’s uses the advertisement for a woman’s purse to further promote the interest of such accessories as beach gear. Another example comes from Elizabeth Arden’s ad for Secret Cover. Elizabeth Arden goes as far as to say, “This is the way legs should look right now – buffed to a silky finish”.
Foreign Travel – American airlines during the time period seem to have taken advantage of The New Yorker’s focus on International product, culture, and art by appealing to the interest to travel overseas. Avianca, The Colombian International Airline, suggests to “buy your wife a glorious gift at Avianca”. In somewhat of a hybrid advertisement appealing to both travel and women, Delta assures that “Lorraine Sommer, age 21, is an attractive stewardess candidate with an IQ of 120but a warm heart and a helpful nature are the first things we look for”.
Men’s High Culture – Similar to the way a majority of the ads in the 60s were aimed at women’s clothing and accessories, the July 1986 edition of The New Yorker appears as if it is aimed more at men’s high-culture clothing. Ralph Lauren Polo has an ad for crocodile moccasins, Gucci advertises luxury watches, and Rolex portrays best selling author Fredrick Forsyth in a turtle neck and sports coat stating “Forsyth’s novels and Forsyth’s Rolex: Original Concepts, meticulously executed”.
Automobiles – Although the automobile had clearly been invented before the 1960s, it appears as if it would be a number of years before cars were heavily advertised in The New Yorker. With that said, a good amount of the cars within this edition of The New Yorker are foreign made and built. Such ads include BMW, Saab, and the Milano from Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo advertises its new vehicle with the title of “Power in the Hands of the Few”, suggesting the Milano can only be enjoyed by those with high-culture taste. In addition, Saab uses the classic approach of needs & wants to appeal to its prospective customers, claiming “Saab. Needs and wants under one sunroof”. Saab uses its intelligent advertising technique to appeal to those with a high-culture taste, while also attracting those individuals who are on a budget, or who are less privileged.
Foreign/Imported Alcohol – Just as gin was the most heavily promoted alcohol in the 60s; foreign alcohol and beer have replaced gin as the most targeted of liquors. Heineken reminds American consumers that it is “America’s Largest Selling Imported Beer”, and Stolichnaya Vodka assures it is “The only Vodka imported from Russia”. Guinness also uses a foreign theme to advertise its non-alcoholic brew Kaliber, promising that “Imported Never Tasted Better”.
Automobiles – Comparable to the amount of car advertisements ran in The New Yorker during the 1980s, the July 8th edition of 1996 contains an overwhelming amount of automobile ads. However, it is apparent that most of the ads are from cars made domestically, and they are also presented as less luxurious than those foreign cars of the 80s. Toyota Camry displays such nationalism with the motto, “Best car built in America”. The Jimmy SLT by the General Motors Company plays on its American identity by displaying the USA Olympic rings in the bottom right corner of its advertisement, for at the time GMC was an official sponsor of the Olympic games in Atlanta. Although foreign built, Saturn also incorporates the American theme by running a campaign to earn money for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Travel – Not straying far from their audience and aim of the past, The New Yorker continues to promote and encourage travel both domestic and foreign. United Airlines encourages its customers to “Go Hollywood to Hollywood”. The advertisement contains a picture of beautiful women with diamonds around her neck while drinking a glass of fine wine, merely suggesting that American Airlines are classy and luxurious. American Express also capitalizes on the theme of travel by promoting travelers checks. The advertisement shows a picture of a gorgeous beach with the subtitle below it “Your vacation”. Below the picture of your vacation is a barren wasteland with the subtitle “Your vacation after losing your wallet in the ocean”. ITT Sheraton Hotels stays with the theme of travel by advertising for their Kaanapali Beach Resort in Maui. The Sheraton encourages, “In a place rich with memories, you can now create your own”.
Women’s Jewelry – There are a number of ads ran throughout The New Yorker which are primarily aimed at the woman’s want for luxury and accessory. Oddly enough most of these ads are aimed at the target of women, yet they too reassure that buying diamonds for women is a sign of commitment on the behalf of men. De Beers Diamond Company uses the classic rhetoric, “A Diamond is Forever”. De Beers also goes as far to say “a quality diamond is so rare that fewer than one percent of women will ever own one”. Such a statement implies a woman with a diamond is a very coveted one within society with a committed man willing to buy elegant and unneeded jewelry. Tiffany & Company promotes its diamonds and its ideal of beauty by incorporating a sexual, yet passive woman wearing Tiffany Silver. Wearing an excess of diamonds and bracelets, the woman within the ad has an overtly sexual look on her face, while she too has her hands in a praying and naive gesture. Such an illustration suggests women who buy Tiffany should be attractive and sexy, yet they should also be classy and respectful while doing so.
Town Boosterism – A good majority of the columnists for The New Yorker contributed to “The Talk of the Town”, which was a section of comments about the upcoming happenings and surroundings in New York City. The July issue of ’66 happens to contain an article commenting on the New York Public Library and its permanent collections of music, theatre, and dance. The article blatantly boosts the public library by giving a narrative account of the writer’s own personal visit to the library. In addition, another article speaks of “a year in which flowers are craning over fences at us, rather than vice versa”. The author of the article uses sensationalism to describe the growth of plants and vegetables in upstate New York stating “there have been complaints about supposedly safely domesticated rosebushes that have suddenly shot illogical, suckerlike plumes toward the sky”.
Politics – The article Annals of Legislation begins by informing the reader of the political process of what is known as “lobbying”. The definition and clarification of lobbying sets up for an example of “the most resolute contingent of lobbyists during recent years”, the American Medical Association. The article criticizes the A.M.A. for moving away from its roots of organizing activities to improve medical education and into the business of persuading politicians that the only way to bring about the betterment of public health is to keep it into private hands. The article bashes the A.M.A. for not considering decent medical care a basic human right, using the already passed Medicare decision within Congress to validate its attack of the A.M.A.
Books & Literary Criticism – As The New Yorker has been a magazine of culture and art, it was very common for editors to analyze, criticize, and promote newly released literature and books. In this specific issue of The New Yorker, The Truman Presidency: The History of a Triumphant Succession by Cabell Phillips is reviewed in a gracious light. The editor praises Phillips ability to abstract first-person recollections of the President, which are said to “stimulate his reader’s memories or incite the young to ask their parents about the Great Election Upset of 1948”. Fictional stories are also commented upon, as George Deaux’s Exit, a story about a man’s journey through hell, is reviewed by the editors of The New Yorker.
Musical Events – Parnassian Peaks writes an in-depth article on Anthony Korf’s “Symphony in the Twilight”, a fine arts performance played in Carnegie Hall by the American Composers Orchestra. With an informed and intelligent audience in mind, the author of the article explains Korf’s “piece is beautifully scored, with much feeling for consorts of woodwinds and of brasses”. Such an analysis of the musical suggests the content of The New Yorker in the 80s is still primarily fine art material aimed at the upper-class. The New Yorker’s approach remains consistent to that of conservative magazines of the early 1900s such as Harpers & The Century, with the only difference being the amount of ads included, as well as the focus on political issues rather than simply highlighting life’s pleasures of travel, fiction, and biography.
Politics – “Letters from Washington” is an article that questions the ideology and character of President Ronald Reagan. The author quotes, “After nearly six years in the Presidency he still has people guessing about how he thinks about certain subjects”. Such subjects which are closely examined include both foreign policy and arms control. Reagan is criticized for has lack of foreign policy, explaining his only agenda is that America be militarily strong and should push back the growth of Communism. In addition to the critique of foreign policy, President Reagan is attacked for his lack of involvement with The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. Such an article reflects the aftermath of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, for at the time there was a large concern to control the weapon race between ourselves and the U.S.S.R.
Biography – “Chief” is an interesting biography of John “Chief” O’Rourke who recently retired from the New York City Fire Department. The narrative tells of O’Rourke’s stints with the Navy, a Brooklyn Insurance Company, and a firm that manufactured the diaphragms for gas meters. A majority of the article focus’s on the Chief’s run-ins with the infamous South Bronx Burnings. During the civil rights movement Brooklyn residents were using fire as a means of social protest, and such an article gives a great perspective from someone who was directly involved in the burnings.
Opinion – “In the Mail” is a section which was added to The New Yorker during the 1990s to allow its reader an opportunity to comment on articles which had previously appeared in its magazine. One reader comments on Ian Parker’s “Talk of the Town” story about T.S. Eliot’s Anti-Semitism remarks in literary work. It is Jacob Korg’s belief that while thoroughly reprehensible, Anti-Semitism was nevertheless a vital source of inspiration for his poetry. Such reader insights have larger implications: they suggest that even the most objectionable material can make a positive contribution to the aesthetic value of poetry and art. In contrast to the history of American journalism, the New Yorker’s use of such material would have probably been considered “seditious” under the Espionage Act of 1917, which made it unlawful to express radical/subversive opinions via books, magazines, and newspapers.
Literature & Art – “Writing is Easy” is a rather simple article Steve Martin comments on one of his favorite passions within life; writing. It is Martin’s opinion that “location” is absolutely the most important thing to keep in mind when picking up a pen or pencil. Martin quotes, “I feel sorry for writers – and there are some pretty famous ones – who live in places like South America and Czechoslovakia, where I imagine it gets pretty dank”. Somewhat of an ethnocentric statement, Martin recommends that all writers live in bright and sunny California. The simplicity of the article is rather shocking when considering great amount of political content The New Yorker contained up until the 1990s.
Biography – The Time of His Life is an article remembering the legacy of eighties artist Keith Haring. In honor of “Keith Haring Journals”, a recent movie document of the times, the article serves as a background and biography of Haring’s life beginning in 1981 with his graduation of the School of Visual Arts in New York. The editorial stays consistent with The New Yorkers original model of biography and art, highlighting Haring’s natural gift – the ability to cover and animate a surface with strong, simple, cartoon-style images that had an iconic resonance. The article also embodies The New Yorker’s theme of international travel, giving a narrative of Haring’s experiences in both Paris and Berlin.
Over the course of The New Yorker’s lifespan there have been a minimal amount of changes to the design of its cover. As a publication highlighting the enjoyment of high-culture and the fine arts, the cover has forever been illustrated by drawings portraying Americanized culture and ideals. The July covers of The New Yorker all incorporate the theme of American Liberty and Independence, just as the November/December editions integrated holiday themes and consumer advertisements.
However, one noticeable change of The New Yorker’s layout can be found in its organization of written articles. The 1966 edition of The New Yorker has only three sections of interest: “Going on about Town”, “The Talk of the Town”, and “Book Reviews”. “The Talk of the Town” section being the largest edition of the three is fairly unorganized, with almost no rational basis for the content of information. Furthermore, along side the printed word “half-tone” illustrations and advertisements run ramped, and look familiar to the “pop-up” ads we see today on the Internet. By the mid 1990s the printed word is structured in a rational way of interest with advertisements strictly regulated to full-page spreads, allowing for a much clearer dissemination of information.
Lastly, although not directly related to the visual appeal of The New Yorker’s layout, the content of the magazine has changed gradually over the publications lifespan. A majority of the content involved with the magazine up until the 1990s was flooded with political opinion, quite similar to that of the New Journalism techniques of the early 1900s. Articles on Medicare and President Policy are not likely to be attractive writings anymore, for The New Yorker seems to have lightened its political agenda with time. Biographies and personal stories have replaced the political articles of the past, as The New Yorker has gone back to its traditional conservative roots as a high-culture/fine arts magazine.
In conclusion, the most predominant theme throughout the publication of The New Yorker has been international travel. Those individuals interested in traveling overseas are usually quite affluent, and are too attracted to the history and art of culture around the world. The overwhelming amount of articles pertaining to foreign culture and arts are complemented by a number of advertisements from airline companies, international hotels, and imported alcohol industries. A great way to analyze a publications ideal audience is to look at the advertisements in-between the fine print. Although changing from time to time, The New Yorker has remained a magazine of high-culture taste, highlighting life’s pleasure of art, travel, and history.