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December 4, 2009


A reader, “Timeless,” offers this take on last week’s TIME cover. (Apologies in advance for the commercial.)

TIME’s teary toddler, sitting alone amid silver balloons, strobe lit confetti and empty champagne (where are the parents?), says less about the so-called “decade from hell,” and more about the creatives at TIME. Of all the possible images that one could consider to illustrate a decade of war, crisis, the growing gap between rich and poor, environmental disaster – remember the tsunami and a little storm called Katrina? – we get instead a diapered baby on a set throwing a fit.

Is the toddler meant to be symbolic of a generation that won’t get a chance to party? Is the toddler meant to be symbolic of a generation of frustration? Is the toddler meant to be a rip off of Jill Greenberg’s End Times series?   

Thankfully, TIME provides us with an answer in a beautifully revealing behind the scenes video of the cover shoot. We now know that there were four toddlers that posed for the part, all  in various stages of distress.  One appears to be vomiting or hyperventilating. We see their stage mommies egging them on, eerily unconcerned about the screams and tears.  We learn that the shoot is historic because the photographer is using not a still camera but a video camera! And it’s never been done.  Or has it?

We see a photo editor and an art director seriously pondering which moment of tearful tirade is most suitably seductive.   Through it all is a still photographer shooting a 35mm like it was a machine gun, spraying the set, back and forth, back and forth, never stopping.

After sacking hundreds of dedicated staff members, shutting bureaus, cutting news coverage and photo assignments, it’s mind blowing to see TIME dig deep into its pockets to spend a small fortune for a picture of a freaked out baby show shot with a tricked out camera.

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