I’m too sexy for my shirt (art of photo captions)

The title of this post comes from a caption in this week’s Economist magazine (which refers to itself as a newspaper). The Economist has evolved the art of captioning images into a polished art form. Reading the captions next to photographs carefully selected for their blandness is one of the pleasure of reading its pages.

The article in question for this particular post is on the politics of Sengal, its ruling family and gigantic bronze statue they have put up. The “I’m too sexy for my shirt” part comes from the rippling abs and pecs of the man in the sculpture. I will leave it to you to read the article (Statuesque or grotesque? An outsize statue symbolises the defects of the president and his family) and put all the contextual parts together.

For mystifying reasons the VICH (Voices In Cerno’s Head) are utterly delighted and tickled by the use of this caption in this context. I have to say that for once I agree with them. This one will stick in the head for years to come.

The previous memorable caption dates back to the years when the Economist only used black and white photos. The article was on relentless logging going on in Burma by the military junta and the resulting ecological damage. The picture in the article was a very documentary like back and white. A solider with an AK stands in the foreground with his back to the camera looking at a truck in the background. The truck is being loaded with tree trunks. The caption reads “logging on till the system crashes”.

I know, its not amusing to most. The story behind the article is certainly nothing to laugh about.

Its just shallow example of the many layers of meaning and context that can be produced by a creative uses of text and image. Certainly makes for a delicious read.

The Economist isn’t granting me any favours for writing this. I’m not even asking for a timely deliver of the magazine.

5 thoughts on “I’m too sexy for my shirt (art of photo captions)

  1. of recent I have had a love-hate relationship with the economist’s opinion (mostly on their views on the iraq war) but have always loved its writing style and the fact they have an opinion. their captions are just outstanding and i did laugh when i saw the caption against the pic..incidentally i got my copy on sat morning this week 🙂


  2. Maf: I don’t care much for the Economist’s (“leaders”) myself. That’s the only part of the magazine that I don’t get around to reading. In their other stuff I’ve felt they are more balanced. Though they make no qualms about what their stand is. It all ads up to very good writing. Like you that’s what got me hooked. They can make the most bland stuff readable to the point of being amusing if not hilarious. And of course the caption. You are certainly lucky to get your fix on Sat. I have to now wait till Tuesday! Anyway I take my time picking through the article so I survive 🙂

    Chavie: Certainly is! I can still visualise that picture and the caption to this day.


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