Let’s Give GQ a Hand for this One

Seriously, this is the best thing I’ve seen all month. The new GQ cover features three A-list female comics in various states of …  disarray.

“To front its comedy-themed issue, the men’s monthly lured Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae and Sarah Silverman to a photo studio,” writes a wry Simon Dumenco in AdAge. The resulting cover looks totally perfect to us.”

GQ took the opportunity to rib their sister publication Vanity Fair about their epic Photoshop fail early this year, in which Reese Witherspoon mysteriously ended up with an extra limb, while Oprah gained a third hand.

At the time, the publisher claimed that the Oprah appendage was a mistake, yes. But Reese’s extra leg? That was just a trick of the eyes, caused by the dress lining. 

Whether that’s true or not, GQ did a marvelous job of calling out the entire industry for its hanky-panky with imagery, giving all three women enough extra body parts to fill up a Twister board. And their public apology was just as good:

GQ would like to apologize to Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, and Sarah Silverman for the egregious mistakes made in the process of creating the cover for our 2018 comedy issue, the latest in our pantheon of mostly annual love letters to the funniest humans we know. Our intention was to celebrate the three super-funny superstars, who are all that is smart and perceptive and riotous and necessary in comedy right now. We deeply regret that the results violated GQ’s rigorous standards of editorial excellence and the laws of nature.

In an effort to ensure that an error of this magnitude never happens again, and because this sounds like the right thing to say, GQ will be conducting a thorough internal audit of our cover-development process. To demonstrate our commitment to transparency, we will release the results of the review, quietly, in 17 months, on Medium.

It’s hilarious, and it’s meant to be, as the cover of their comedy issue. And it still manages to point out the industry-wide need for photo manipulation ethics, and the effect it has on women and men trying to attain impossible standards.

The overuse and abuse of Photoshop in the magazine industry has become the stuff of ridicule and blowback. Celebrities and models alike are speaking out about the bizarre alternations being used to meet a particular standard of what’s beautiful. And sometimes it takes a hilarious approach to bring a serious issue to the fore. 

Well done, GQ. Take a bow … on that extra leg.