Tina Fey was on the cover of Vanity Fair's January 2009 issue. The photo is by Annie Leibovitz, who also shot the pictures inside, and the interview is by Maureen Dowd. Three of my favorite women! Of course I had to buy it.
Tina is holding an American flag in her left hand, an Uncle Sam hat in her right, and is wearing red, white and blue. Very patriotic.
If you look closely at the flag, you might notice something a little unusual. All of the stars on both the left and right are perfectly aligned. That's only possible if there are the same number of stars in each row. It looks like there are six rows. It's impossible to count the number of stars in each row, because it's waving, but I would be willing to bet that there are eight stars in each row. Six rows, eight stars each row, is 48 stars.
But, of course, there are 50 states. On today's flag, there are nine total rows - 5 rows of 6 (30) and 4 rows of 5 (20).
That's not a mistake. It would take a fair amount of work to find a 48-state flag in good enough shape to shoot for the cover of Vanity Fair. That's a conscious decision on Annie Leibovitz's part (and Tina Fey's and Vanity Fair's). So, why? Why shoot a cover with a flag that hasn't been in use since July 3, 1959?
Because that leaves out two states: Alaska and Hawaii. Stars are added for each state on the 4th of July after their admittance to the Union. Alaska was the 49th state, admitted January 3, 1959. Any idea on why Tina Fey, Vanity Fair, and Annie Leibovitz would want to leave out Alaska? Hmmm? Maybe because that's the state that Sarah Palin is governor of? Coincidence?
Hell no. That's a great visual joke. I'm not going to explain it, because that would, of course, kill the joke. I'm just going to enjoy it.
Unfortunately, it also leaves out Hawaii, where Obama was born, but if they had wanted to make a statement about Obama, they would have used a 49-star flag. Which they didn't. Because Tina Fey, Annie Leibovitz, and Vanity Fair love Barack Obama. Like me.