Donald J. Trump was named TIME Magazine’s “Person of the Year” for 2016. Contrary to popular belief, this is not an award. TIME bases their choice on one factor alone: they choose “the person who had the greatest influence, for better or worse, on the events of the year.” Past Persons of the Year have included Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler – that’s not a comparison between them and Trump, merely an indication that selection does not equal endorsement.

Several people have noticed and pointed out that Trump’s positioning in the TIME cover photo appears to make the “M” into red horns on his head:


This may have been intentional – my graphic designer friends assure me that it was – but there is a much more nuanced statement hidden in the other details of the cover photo. For example, as Jake Romm writes:

The masterstroke, the single detail that completes the entire image, is the chair. Trump is seated in what looks to be a vintage “Louis XV” chair (so named because it was designed in France under the reign of King Louis XV in the mid 18th century). The chair not only suggests the blindly ostentatious reigns of the French kings just before the revolution, but also, more specifically, the reign of Louis XV who, according to historian Norman Davies, “paid more attention to hunting women and stags than to governing the country” and whose reign was marked by “debilitating stagnation,” “recurrent wars,” and “perpetual financial crisis” (sound familiar?).

The brilliance of the chair however, is visual rather than historical. It’s a gaudy symbol of wealth and status, but if you look at the top right corner, you can see a rip in the upholstery, signifying Trump’s own cracked image. Behind the bluster, behind the glowing displays of wealth, behind the glittering promises, we have the debt, the tastelessness, the demagoguery, the racism, the lack of government experience or knowledge (all of which we unfortunately know too well already). Once we notice the rip, the splotches on the wood come into focus, the cracks in Trump’s makeup, the thinness of his hair, the stain on the bottom left corner of the seat — the entire illusion of grandeur begins to collapse. The cover is less an image of a man in power than the freeze frame of a leader, and his country, in a state of decay. The ghostly shadow works overtime here — suggesting a splendor that has already passed, if it ever existed at all.

For a complete breakdown of the Time cover photo and its hidden meanings, with visual aids, read Jake Romm’s entire article here: Why Time’s Trump Cover Is a Subversive Work of Political Art – Culture –