It’s more than an image, it’s a controversy.

Through the connotations and denotations of this image, the audience will perceive this ad as a controversy, and here is why.

How do we let 2000 pixels create such an uproar, its because of what the image depicts. Photographs tell stories deeper then any word ever could, and its because of the emotion that is connected with the photo.

Anyone who knows anything about American history will associate this image and tagline with the assassination of Mr. Kennedy, except the role reversal opened a new conversation that the Men’s magazine company started.

If you break it down into two parts, the denotation and connotation provides a few pathways which lead to how this image is offensive and disrespectful to the Kennedy family and the history of America.

The dictionary definition of denotation when applied to this picture would be: the literal headshot of the woman, and how it missed the mark of the two men which then links to the tag line of, “If men are your target, then make sure you don’t miss.”

This visual is still confronting to an audience, it is a darkened sense of humour that doesn’t communicate to the audience what is being advertised, rather just stating that the audience is NOT women.

The dictionary definition of connotation when applied to the picture brings forth the context of President Kennedy’s assassination.

When we talk about the connotations of this image we see how little regards the magazine has for the Kennedy family, and the history of America. The humorous joke was turned into a belittlement of a serious situation. It is a disgusting take on a historical event, it is offensive and paints a bad picture for America.

The power of an image, this one or another, is unbelievably strong because of our human emotions that we associate with them. An example would be an image of a place where you were proposed to, or an image of the old school you went too. These pictures don’t even have to have anyone in them, but because of the emotional attachment that is found in these photos we automatically get a reaction.

“Because good images transcend. They encourage us to act. For better or worse. The power of the image as a tool in information and propaganda campaigns is as old as the copied, replicated image itself. We all have seen photos that changed the world.”

The Psychology of Photography

Linking back to the original photo, I’m not suggesting that this image has the power to change the world, not many photos do, but this one had the power to create a large amount of backlash which in turn forced the advertisement to be taken down. Our own perception and thoughts on the image initially come down to an influence of our own values and beliefs. The image stimulates thought, like any good picture should. What do you get out of this image?

The Psychology of Photography | THEME (2012). Available at: (Accessed: 26 March 2021).

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