A Rose in the Desert- Vogue’s Royal Mistake.


-The “Vogue”  piece on Syria’s First Lady.

On February 2011, Vogue Magazine published a very pleasant article of the lovely Asma al-Assad, who is married to the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. This article is entitled “ A rose in the Desert” , which exemplifies the First Lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad,  “who has British roots, wears designer fashion, worked for many years in banking.”  This article praises the Assads to be a “Wildly democratic” family. Although it is known that Bashar al-Assad, who is the president of Syria, is a tyrant whose regime has slaughtered over 5000 civilians and children. Yet the couple strive to “foster Christianity, are at ease with American celebrities, made theirs the ‘safest country in the Middle East’, and want to give Syria a ‘brand essence’.” However this is entirely not the case, that indeed Syria is not one of the safest countries in the Middle East. So why would Vogue want to portray it thus?

Vogue editors defended this controversial article, claiming it “a way of opening a window into this world a little bit, conceding only that Assad’s Syria is not as secular as we might like”. Moreover, shortly thereafter a senior editor publicized that they indeed stood by this article. If that was the case, it is strange that Vogue has stripped the article off from their website without any explanations.

One can relate this article to the theory of the “Propaganda Model, particularly the propaganda model in advertising in newspapers/ magazines. It is clear that for any publication to survive it must first refine itself into an advertisement friendly medium. The media has to be understanding of many things, such as business interests, politics, travel etc. It appears that the reason why this article has been recalled from the Vogue website is because it did not follow nor met these guidelines. In addition the article did not respect the politics between the Western and Middle Eastern societies.

It can see that from this article the profile avoids the horrific injustice that is being inflicted on the civilians in Syria. It was not until after the Syrian uprisings began in spring 2011 that Vogue pulled the article from their website, which they did almost immediately. It is now apparent that what the editor “Joan Juliet Buck” wrote lacked any research or merit.  Although she emphasizes Asma al-Assad as  “glamorous, young, and very chic–the freshest and most magnetic of first ladies”, Buck should have focused more on the bigger picture. Yes we understand that she is “the element of light in a country full of shadow zones”, yet arguably Buck should have focused more on the darkness that lied behind Syria.

Furthermore, It has also been reported that “the global PR firm Brown Lloyd has arranged for this positive propaganda piece to help soften the image of the Assad family to the Western media”. Now it is clear that this is not the case at all, that there are uprisings, which are responsible for the deaths of 11.000 Syrians.



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