By Lanford Beard
March 23, 2012 at 04:55 PM EDT

Jessica Simpson’s naked-and-pregnant ELLE cover has become a flashpoint at a Tucson Safeway, reports the AP. Though Simpson is not fully exposed on the cover of the April issue, franchise management decided to take action after receiving “multiple complaints.” Jezebel received an image of the cardboard cover-up that would otherwise be used to hide erotic magazines like Penthouse and Juggs. The Arizona Daily Star also reported seeing issues turned around at the Safeway in question.

Given the photo’s inspiration — Demi Moore’s similarly controversial August 1991 Vanity Fair cover — it’s no surprise Simpson’s cover is creating a stir. But where does the intent lie? It’s pretty obvious this shot was crafted not as some revolutionary display of Annie Liebovitz-ian artistry but as a calculated sales driver. Sex sells, but 20 years after Moore’s cover — in an era when Maxim is a half-step below Playboy, Playboy itself is pulling former child stars from prison/rehab onto its pages, and graphic sex has only become more prevalent on basic cable — doesn’t it seem a little disingenuous to start a clamor over an obvious homage to an iconic (and fairly tame) image?

What do you think, PopWatchers? Is the controversy warranted? Is the fact that Simpson is pregnant the cause for controversy? Is it inappropriate to place this kind of imagery in public spaces like grocery stores, where young children might see it? And is Simpson herself worth all the hubbub?

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