In the days since Jared Lee Loughner’s deadly massacre in Arizona, we’ve been haunted by his face in every conceivable form — old photos, artistic renderings, recent snapshots, online videos, online videos on television and so on — but none more haunting than that mugshot. As you can see to the right, it made the cover of every newspaper earlier this week, but it’s not going away any time soon. Weekly publications will have their turn next, with Time going especially horrorcore, to say nothing of the monthlies to follow. Seattle’s alt-weekly The Stranger, though, has the most creative (and effective) cover yet.
Time‘s take turns Loughner into something of a movie villain, making the photo grainy in black and white, plus decorating his forehead with a graphic. “Guns. Speech. Madness.” reads the headline, with the subtitle, “Where we go from Arizona.” It’s arresting, to be sure, but it’s also sensational. “I suspect that Loughner is less interested in learning more about his own motives (Politics? Metaphysics? Madness?) than he is in inserting his image into our dream pools where it can fester,” wrote Jack Shafer at Slate about the deliberate look of Loughner in his mugshot. If that’s the case, Time played right into his hands.
The much more affecting, original take comes courtesy of a weekly paper, The Stranger, where they’re refusing to frame Loughner as Heath Ledger’s The Joker in favor of a pointed parody of Sarah Palin’s infamous crosshairs map, in which assassination attempts in the United States are pinpointed by location:
The cover, created by Dan Savage and Aaron Huffman, makes a point that’s more “sinking heart” than “punch in the gut.”