Le Monde magazine has apologized after publishing a cover some critics allege drew a visual parallel between President Emmanuel Macron and Adolf Hitler.
The cover in qestion featured a black and white photograph of Macron, with an image of Yellow Vest protesters marching towards the Arc de Triomphe. There are bands of deep red behind Macron and the M is written in Gothic font. The headline reads: ‘From inauguration to Yellow Vests – The Champs-Élysées theatre of Macron’s power’.
Critics said it was a clear parallel between Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s wartime leader. The magazine initially insisted it “obviously” had no such comparison in mind, but then a Twitterstorm forced it to back down.
In a tweet, the president of the National Assembly Richard Ferrand summed up the general sense of confusion over the intentions of the image:
“Looking forward to understanding what underlies the graphic and iconographic references of @lemonde_M If it cannot be a matter of chance, what is it then? In search of the lost meaning…”
Hâte de comprendre ce qui fonde les références graphiques et iconographiques du @lemonde_M S’il ne peut s’agir de hasard, de quoi s’agit-il alors ? À la recherche du sens perdu… pic.twitter.com/MHMmia0G2c
— Richard Ferrand (@RichardFerrand) December 29, 2018
Another asked directly just what was the meaning of the image, stating: “Eager to understand what builds graphics and iconographic references @ lemonde_M If it may be random, what is it then? In search of lost meaning …”
Luc Bronner, editor-in-chief of Le Monde, was quick to respond to critical reactions to the cover, as France 24 reported.
The cover of M magazine du Monde dated Saturday 29 December has provoked critical reactions from some of our readers. We apologise to those who have been shocked by designs that obviously do not correspond in any way to the criticisms we have received. The elements used referred to the graphics of Russian constructivism at the beginning of the 20th century, who used black and red. The cover is also inspired by the work of other artists, notably those of Lincoln Agnew, who has produced numerous graphic subjects for M.
It was Agnew who produced a cover image for Harper’s Magazine in July 2017 which featured a collage of Hitler overlaid with a photograph of crowds saluting him.
Although the subject and the alleged juxtaposition of Macron and Hitler sparked debate, others were less inclined to see the comparison.
One reader simple saw Macron as a giant lizard hell-bent on the destruction of French civil society.
He wrote: “We live in a world of images, graphic references, symbols that we all understand in our sauce. And red, white and black is very visually effective. I’m pretty sure that
@ lemondefr never wanted to equate Macron with Godzilla, and yet …”
Nous vivons dans un monde d’images, de références graphiques, de symboles que nous comprenons tous à notre sauce. Et le rouge, blanc et noir, c’est très efficace visuellement. Je suis à peu près certain que @lemondefr n’a jamais voulu assimiler Macron à Godzilla, et pourtant… pic.twitter.com/92rHGLR22X
— Julien Joly (@Julien_J0ly) December 29, 2018
Still others saw neither Adolf Hitler or Godzilla conflated in the image, simply saying they thought Macron reminded them of Karl Marx.
The yellow vest protests are currently in their seventh week of demonstrations and are made up of tens of thousands of angry Frenchmen and women who feel betrayed by the president.
Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: Follow @SunSimonKent or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org