Top 10 Most Controversial Magazine Covers of All Time

You must have heard the world- famous saying, ‘Never judge a book by its cover’. But no one ever asked us to do the same in case of magazines. In the case of the latter, perhaps it is the cover only that catches all our attention. There is no denying that these glossy covers attract maximum number of eyeballs but at the same time generate an unhealthy controversy in the society. While some controversial covers in past have worked like a medicine for the publication and shot up their popularity, others brought immense embarrassment for the magazine. At times, editors had to apologize or leave their position. Here is a list that uniquely mentions some of the most controversial magazine covers of all time. Have a look don’t hesitate to suggest other covers that you think might have been part of this list.

List of 10 Most Controversial Magazine Covers

1.) Time Magazine, January 2, 1939: Hitler as Man of the Year

2.) Time Magazine, April 8, 1966: Is God Dead?

3.) Life, November 26, 1965: War in Vietnam

4.) Esquire, April 1968: The Passion of Ali

5.) Esquire, May 1969: The Drowning of Andy Warhol

6.) Playboy, October 1971: First Playboy African-American Woman

7.) National Lampoon, January 1973: If You Don’t Buy This Magazine…

8.) The New Yorker, March 29, 1976: Steinberg Map of New York

9.) Rolling Stone, January 22, 1981: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

10.) Vanity Fair, August 1991: Demi Moore, Pregnant and Nude

Top Ten Most Controversial Magazine Covers

Know more about the controversies that the top ten most controversial magazine covers created around the world.

1. Time Magazine, January 2, 1939: Hitler as Man of the Year

This January 2, 1939 cover featured detailed illustration of Hitler. Time Magazine still regrets the decision to publish Hitler’s life as a cover story and the magazine had to defend its choice throughout history.

2. Time Magazine, April 8, 1966: Is God Dead?

One of the most controversial covers of all time, Time Magazines’ April 8, 1966 cover received criticism from all segments of the society. The cover story, ‘Is God Dead’ concerned the “death of god movement” that had taken place during 1960′s. The cover and article enraged readers all across the globe.

3. Life, November 26, 1965: War in Vietnam

Paul Schutzers was the man who had to give his life for capturing arresting image of a VietCong prisoner during the Vietnam War. Extensive war photography and news coverage led to turn the American public against the Vietnam War. Schutzers lost his life on an assignment during the Six-Day War of 1967 that took place between Israel and its neighboring states of Egypt, Syria and Jordan.

4. Esquire, April 1968: The Passion of Ali

This cover, featuring Muhammad Ali was created to exemplify his martyrdom to his cause.  Muhammad Ali refused to work with the US military due to his religious beliefs. Subsequently, he was stripped of his heavyweight boxing title.

5. Esquire, May 1969: The Drowning of Andy Warhol

This cover page combined two split shots of a soup can and Warhol. In the first ten years of the creative thinker and Art Director, George Lois’ presence in the company, circulation of the magazine shot up from 500,000 to 2 million. This cover thought to be symbolizing the American avant-garde movement.

6. Playboy, October 1971: First Playboy African-American Woman

This cover brought a lot of controversy with it. October 1971 cover of famous Playboy magazine was the first Playboy cover that featured an African-American woman. The model on the cover was Darine Stern and the photographer who captured this photograph was Richard Fegley.

7. National Lampoon, January 1973: If You Don’t Buy This Magazine…

Though this cover did nothing more than bringing a smile on readers’ faces, it became famous for its violent overtones. The cover page was shot by Ronald G. Harris and it raised quite a few eyebrows in pre-Photoshop days.

8. The New Yorker, March 29, 1976: Steinberg Map of New York

The cover became even more controversial when Steinberg sued Columbia Pictures over their movie poster for “Moscow on the Hudson”. The poster seems closely inspired by Steinberg’s cover down to the placement of the title. Steinberg won the case in the court.

9. Rolling Stone, January 22, 1981: John Lennon and Yoko Ono

This photo was taken a couple of hours before John Lennon was shot outside his apartment building in New York City. The cover has been conferred with the title of being the most popular magazine cover of the past 40 years.  The title was given by the American Society of Magazine Publishers.

10. Vanity Fair, August 1991: Demi Moore, Pregnant and Nude

The famous celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz shot this cover. When released, the cover was described as disgraceful and disgusting. Some book stores refused to sell the issue whereas some sold it, but with a brown paper covering the “nasty” image.

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