Who's Smiling Now? Newsweek Gives Hillary Clinton a Snowclone

A blog about politics, sports, media, stuff
April 25 2011 2:55 PM

Who's Smiling Now? Newsweek Gives Hillary Clinton a Snowclone

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins actress Cate Blanchett and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh on the ever-growing list of people who smile enigmatically. This time, it's Newsweek, the May 2 issue, page 17: "Why Is This Woman Smiling?", on an extended caption in its News Gallery section.

It's a particularly bold usage, because the picture doesn't make it clear that Clinton is smiling at all. Her lips are pressed together and slightly upturned, but her head is tilted at an angle that makes the expression hard to read, and a large pair of sunglasses conceals her orbicularis oculi muscles . (Why does Newsweek think this woman is smiling?)

Meanwhile, readers have pushed the date of the original headline use of "Why Is This [X] [SMILING/LAUGHING]?" to the early '60s. Esquire's Tim Heffernan wrote:

I don't know if Esquire coined the phrase "why is this man laughing"—I have this nagging sense that it was a '50s-era advertising cliché that the magazine took mocking advantage of—but I think we can probably claim to have kept it alive.

Anyway, if that's the case, it began not in the 1970s but way back in January 1962, in the first "Dubious Achievement Awards," as the caption on five identical photos of Richard Nixon laughing wildly at something.

Esquire cites that event

. And Adam Newman wrote that the initial 1962 usage in Esquire was the work of his uncle David Newman and Robert Benton, who also teamed up to write the screenplay for Bonnie and Clyde.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.