Watson was at Davos as part of a UN mission to promote women’s rights around the world.
As a UN representative, it’s imperative that she remains politically neutral. But her appearance on the cover of the new issue of Ukrainian magazine Joy is a propaganda victory for the embattled nation.
Ukraine has been locked in a bitter conflict with neighboring Russia. At issue are Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support of Russian separatists fighting in Eastern Ukraine.
The appearance of a high-profile celebrity on a national magazine has propaganda value because it suggests a tacit endorsement of the regime or that everything is business-as-usual in the country.
Watson isn’t the first celebrity to find her photo on the cover of a national magazine to help paper over a country’s problems.
Last November, Amber Heard appeared on the cover of the Russian edition of GQ magazine. The move came shortly after the United States imposed economic sanctions on the country.
Her appearance served a political end by making it appear that relations with the United States are normal. It also suggested that the U.S. sanctions aren’t widely supported outside of the U.S. government.
In 2011, Kim Kardashian appeared on the cover of the Turkish edition of Cosmopolitan magazine the same month as Genocide Remembrance Day.
The occasion marks the years during and following World War I, when the Turks murdered millions of Armenians in a genocide that mirrors in many ways the Nazi Holocaust in World War II.
Kardashian is of Armenian descent and her high-profile appearance was said to be a ploy to undercut the significance of the solemn holiday and dampen anti-Turkish feelings.
The cover was inflammatory because modern-day Turkey has continually been accused of trying to minimize the genocide and quash any mention of it in the national media.
“I just found out today that I am on the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine in Turkey this month,” she wrote on her blog at the time.”I had no idea that Turkey was planning to run my story on their cover THIS month.”
Neither Heard nor Kardashian can be considered politically astute. But Watson is devoting considerable time to her UN effort on behalf of women, plus she has an Ivy League education.
She should take a refresher course in world politics.
Check out her Davos speech and her magazine cover, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest celebrity news.