Captioned "The Boss" Christie described the photo as nothing short of a Soprano-esque mug shot. Although it's not mentioned, he believes it references his maternal Italian-American heritage in a way that is "not kind." The Governor expressed equally strong feelings during a Fox News "Imus in the Morning" interview:
"I'm reporting Time magazine to the, like, anti-Italian defamation league. I mean, look at that thing. It says 'Boss' underneath. I mean come on."
At the end of his discussion with Matt Lauer, the Governor laughed it off, stating that the receipt of so much attention just means that he's doing his job. Some members of the Italian-American community aren't willing to dismiss the issue so easily. President Andre' DiMino, of the Italian-American One Voice Coalition, cited Christie's Time cover as a "typical smearing" that subliminally equates him with the Mafia.
On the flip side, Christie has made no secret of his long-time admiration for famous New Jersey singer Bruce Springsteen, whose nickname is "The Boss." Also famous for his Liberal ideals, the Obama supporter's standoffish treatment of Christie hasn't been a secret either. Merely a month ago, Christie gushed for almost a full five minutes to Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" about his "slow dance" hug with Springsteen after a Hurricane Sandy relief eventÂ—so enamored by the star's declaration that they're officially friends, Christie's even "looking for more." Were it not for his tough guy demeanor, it might have been a little embarrassing.
It's impossible to say what was in the minds of the editors when they approved the photo and caption, but it can be argued that it was intended to be a respectful nod to his no-nonsense professional approach, and personal status as a huge Springsteen fan. Considering how thrilled the Governor has been with their new allegiance, many immediately interpreted it that way.
While Time has been known to step on toes, in this era of almost stifling political correctness, it's difficult to imagine that the mob boss inference was intentional. The publication is based in New York City. Youse can't go ten seconds without hearing the word "Youse;" an expression frequently credited to the Italian-American community. Why it didn't occur to them that it would be insulting is just plain beyond comprehension.
The only remaining questions may be whether drawing attention to the implication perpetuates the unfounded stereotype, or works to end it. Is it offensive, or is it a sign that we've moved forward? Is it a blatant display of disrespect, or a good thing that Time didn't think to stop its publication?