January 2007 Letters to the Editor
Editor’s note: Our December cover, commemorating the 40th anniversary of Minnesota Monthly, inspired an unusual number of letters, some of which follow.
Less Is Not More
Please tell me I have missed the point of the use of the young woman (with the bikini and sultry look) as the canvas for the moments that changed the state. A boat heading into the crevice between her legs? Hockey sticks pointing to her breasts? Wellstone diminished on her shoulder? Since when did Minnesota Monthly need to use this tactic to get attention? I am very dismayed. It is not only tacky but bad art!
I’m sure glad your December issue featured a skinny, bikini-clad, tattoo-embossed Twiggy look-alike on its cover. Why, it threw me right into the spirit of the season, so reminiscent was it of Advent, Hanukkah, Christmas, and all the other sacred celebrations of this holy season. How fortunate for me that I didn’t even have to travel to the newsstand for a copy of Rolling Stone or Twin Cities Reader to obtain my oh-so-necessary pop-cultural icon fix—it came to me in my mailbox, unbidden, from a public-radio affiliate, no less.
I’m thinking it must have been Take-Your-Teenage-Son-to-Work-Day when the cover for December’s issue was chosen. As Steve Fox suggested (“Foreword”), the cover did indeed get my attention. It made me wonder why you all can’t do better. Replicating an obscure four-decade old photo of Goldie Hawn was far from the “iconic spark” you sought to light. Instead, I found it disappointing. And typical. And offensive.
Fox wrote, “The tattoo approach is so trend directional, don’t you think?” Actually, plastering a magazine cover with a scantily clad woman for the sheer sake of grabbing attention is what’s “trend directional.” Looks like Minnesota Monthly is achieving a lamentable success: blending with the vast media sameness. Sigh.
Jana Voelke Studelska
You are right: the cover did get my attention. I was a bit shocked that in this day and age objectifying women and explaining it away as “extremely creative” art direction misses the joke. I never saw Goldie Hawn’s tattooed body until I opened the magazine to try and figure out what you were thinking. Surely you can see the difference between a woman (40!) years ago making fun of society’s sexist view of the time by using a woman’s body to “get attention” and the come-hither image you have on your cover!
The December cover, while idiotic, is not as offensive as your smug prediction that there would be (the implication is “prudish”) readers who just had to complain about the “tawdry, tasteless cover,” noting “but the cover got your attention, and that’s what art directors are paid for.” I thought they were paid to be creative as well as to get my attention. The cover was less tawdry and tasteless than completely uncreative and pedestrian. I would not have written to complain had I not read your editorial and felt the smirk, the talking-down-to. Enough. It’s long been a magazine for somebody else, not me. Now you can cancel my subscription and make sure all my measly MPR contribution dollars go to programming.
I’m ever-so-glad that I checked the “No Thanks—Don’t Send Minnesota Monthly” box on my recent Minnesota Public Radio membership renewal form. That way, I won’t receive the December issue at my home. But I do work in a medical center where we subscribe to Minnesota Monthly for patients to read in our waiting room at the Piper Breast Center. The December cover is tasteless (that’s a pun—especially when you see that the surrounding MOA ad banner states “Tour this edible masterpiece” about two inches above the model’s crotch).
Lucia Wilkes Smith
Virginia Piper Cancer Institute
So, I said to my husband, “That’s the dumbest cover I’ve ever seen. I don’t like it and I’m going to write a letter to the editor. What do you think of that?” “Sure, why not?” he said. Later he referred me to the “Foreword,” which I had not read. How did you know we 60-somethings wouldn’t like it? Anyway, congratulations on 40 years of publishing your magazine, which I do enjoy reading. It’s wonderful—well, except for this month’s cover.
This month’s (December 2006) cover photograph is captivating on many levels. When I first saw it, I couldn’t help but stare. No, I wasn’t staring at the model, I wasn’t thinking “what a fetching bikini,” and I wasn’t comparing her physique to mine. I was staring at each and every “tattoo” painted on her perfect skin. I was pondering the significance of each one for the state of Minnesota. Some made me quietly smile, some made me laugh out loud, and others just made me cringe.
This photograph single-handedly made me open this month’s magazine and read about this great state. Way to go; you made this former Washingtonian want to learn more about the state in which she lives today!
Wow! I promise, if you keep putting covers on the 2007 issues of Minnesota Monthly like the absolutely stunning one on the Anniversary December 2006 issue, I’ll double my contribution to MPR!
Arden, North Carolina
Your December 2006 cover caused quite a stir in my household. I liked the cover because I saw that it was a parody of Goldie Hawn’s recurring role on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. My wife and her sister-in-law found the bikini-clad young woman a bit irritating. Especially the drawing on her body. This did not bother me. What did bug me was the fact that you hired the model through an agency in Chicago. Weren’t there any pretty, half-naked blonde models in Minnesota who could’ve used that money and exposure?
Edgar L. Davis
Thanks for your nod to women’s sports by mentioning the Gopher basketball team (“40 Moments That Changed Minnesota,” December). Please note also that Gopher women’s hockey, now in its 10th season, has already won three national championships. The team has created more Olympians than any other Gopher sport. Dedication of Ridder Arena, the only ice rink in the country created for a women’s team, surely is one of 40 moments that changed Title IX—and Minnesota, the hockey state.
Fred Amram and Sandra Brick
Life and Death
I have just finished reading Frank Clancy’s article (“Hard Landing,” December) about Juan Antonio Rangel’s life and death and was very impressed. The author’s success at turning a nameless illegal construction worker into a person with an interesting life and family history is remarkable.
Lee S. Tesdell
Department of English
Mankato State University, Mankato
Not So Funny After All
It was quite a surprise to see the story of Sister Janelle Cahoon’s mistakenly reported death featured in your most recent issue (“The 2006 Uncommon Loon Awards”). Since the original story was written in the Duluth News-Tribune, Sister Janelle did indeed die. She was a beloved person on campus.
College of St. Scholastica, Duluth
Minnesota Monthly should not claim that submissions for the Tamarack Award must contain a maximum of 4,000 words when the winning entry this year finished at 6,500 or so. Either your winner submitted a long piece and your judges ignored the rules, or he won the contest with a trim work and you encouraged him to puff it up. When I prepare my work for entry in the Tamarack Award, I enjoy making a complete, meaningful story in less than 4,000 words. It’s tough, but the low word count is among the reasons that your contest is special. To those of us who follow the rules, your choice to ignore your own guidelines is discouraging.
Editor’s note: John Bresland submitted a 3,900-word version of “The Cooler” that was our clear-cut choice for the 2006 Tamarack Award. By the time we went to press, Bresland had expanded the work—a chapter from his novel-in-progress so compelling that we chose to share it with our readers in its entirety.
Dear MNMO Readers
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