question of the day: Why does The New York Times think a headless, limbless torso of a woman says “summer movies”?

The New York Times is asking readers to pick the illustration — from among 10 options — that will act as the cover for its upcoming summer movies special issue. There are some lovely choices, including my two favorites:
New York Times summer movies covers

Now, there are some potential problems with this contest scenario. Can you spot it in the editors’ explanation of how this works?

Few special sections of The New York Times promise as much escapist pleasure as the annual Summer Movies issue of Arts & Leisure. As a result, the editors usually commission an illustration — illo is the in-house term of art — for the cover that tends to be playful, wistful or just plain fun. This spring, we asked students at the Savannah College of Art and Design to submit their own illustrations to be considered for the cover of this year’s section, which comes out May 6. Some 100 entries were narrowed down by faculty members, and 25 were sent to The Times. Our editors narrowed the field down to 10 finalists, and here are their submissions.

Did you see it? The Times usually pays a professional designer to create the cover. But this year, since not paying people is all the rage these days, it asked students to do spec work, for no payment, in the hopes that they might be the lucky one who eventually gets paid. This is an absolute no-no (see No!Spec and particularly its FAQ). “Some 100” art students did work for a multimillion-dollar corporate entity, and only one of them will get paid. Maybe — maybe not. (Meanwhile, the Times is publishing the work of the 10 finalists presumably without payment, and without any sort of credit at all.)

But here’s the most glaring problem. Out of those 25 entries the Times saw, the editors decided that this one was appropriate for readers to consider:

New York Times summer movies cover

This woman could not be more depersonalized and objectified. I’d love to think that the Times editors were making a satirical comment on the state of Hollywood movies, which depersonalizes and objectifies women in the same way, but I doubt that even occurred to them.

Why does The New York Times think a headless, limbless torso of a woman says “summer movies”?

Where is the “escapist pleasure” in this? How could they possibly have thought this was “playful, wistful or just plain fun”?

Via @Krizanovich.

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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