It is extremely seldom that the cover of a weekly magazine makes such waves in this country that waves of rejection and indignation sweep across the borders of Austria and also inspire the editors of much larger-circulation newspapers to react – especially when the world is in the middle of a completely different big one Issues like a global pandemic for example. Nevertheless, the “Falter” managed this dubious feat with its latest edition. Now there is also criticism from the “FAZ”.
As the eXXpress reported, the Vienna weekly newspaper headlined in its last issue before Christmas Eve 2021 with the provocative subject of ex-Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, his partner Susanne and their newborn son as “holy family”. The broad storm of outrage was directed less at the obscure portrayal of the Chancellor as the father of the “Savior (or in this case …” Geilands ”, freely based on the Falter title of“ Geilzeit ”) or FPÖ boss Kickl or short-term chancellor and short successor Alexander Schallenberg. The image of the (Jesus) child – here entirely taken over from the original painting, which served as the starting point for the collage, and thus represented as the only person on the cover – did not cause as much excitement as that of Susanne Thier.
Because the face of Kurz’s partner, and mother of his son, was modeled on the body of a bare-breasted Maria – and thus an offensive object of the most violent criticism. For many good reasons – and one of them has not yet been discussed, as a critical comment in the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ) now notes.
It was probably “a bad idea anyway, regardless of the result”, “that such a committed medium tried satire on his favorite object,” writes the FAZ’s political correspondent in Vienna, Stephan Löwenstein, in his commentary. It is nothing more than “kicking a dead dog”.
The reactions from politics, with the ruling turquoise-green coalition at the forefront, were unanimous in the assessment of the cover: It was “sexist and tasteless” and exposed uninvolved private individuals (namely Ms. Thier) in public, stated the Family Minister Susanne Raab (ÖVP). The Greens also found “this figure to be highly sexist, degrading, even downright outrageous.” And even “friends” of Falter, such as ORF-Armin Wolf or Hans Rauscher from “Standard” found scolding words for the subject: Wolf found that the contribution was “on the level of a high school graduation newspaper”, Rauscher condemned it as a “shot with the double barreled on the knees of critical journalism ”. And the excitement is far from over – due to numerous complaints, the press council will also deal with the cover after its Christmas break in January.
On the part of the “Falter”, the excitement about the cover of the latest sheet edition is limited. Both publisher Armin Thurnher and editor-in-chief Florian Klenk argued that the picture was nothing more and nothing less than a “satirically inflated criticism” of the fact that Kurz had justified his withdrawal from politics with the birth of his son. And Thier-Maria’s bare breast is a “classic subject” for her, which “has nothing to do with sex”. In its origin, yes – “the motif of Maria lactans has nothing to do with sex,” says Löwenstein. BUT: “… to convey a criticism of Kurz about exposing his girlfriend but with sexism,” countered the FAZ correspondent. And at the end of his critical comment, he gives food for thought, which nobody has been very upset about: “Apart from that, the picture is blasphemous, even if nobody seems to be offended by it,” writes Stephan Löwenstein. He’s not wrong about that.