Wednesday, March 26

LeBron James-Gisele Bundchen-Vogue-cover

Recently (I believe it was the April issue), LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen were the cover models for Vogue magazine. I remember when this cover came out because it was somewhat groundbreaking since it was only the third cover to feature a man, the other two men featured being Richard Gere and George Clooney. I remember thinking to myself that it was pretty cool that a black man was on the cover (considering this magazine has more of a white readership and I would venture to say mostly women) and also that he was an athlete, not an actor or a model. The issue of the magazine was a "Shape Issue" with "Secrets of the Best Bodies: LeBron & Giselle and The Worlds Top Models and Star Athletes" being the cover story. I didnt think much of it until people started getting pissed that it was racist.

So I took another look and apparantly the problem is that LeBron is remniscent of King Kong while Giselle plays Fay Wray, the damsel in distress. That would have never crossed my mind, but having that pointed out, I can see the similarities. But to me it shows a strong, powerful, perhaps dangerous black man with a dainty, beautiful smiling happy women. She really doesnt look like she is in much distress to me and the guy is a professional athlete, it would make sense that he has an intense persona, plus he is actually dribbling a basketball in the shot.

What people have been complaining about though is that is racist. I didn't see any complaints that it is sexist because a woman is being "possessed" by a man, even though it is racist for the same exact reason, which I found interesting. I think that to most people it shows a two rich and recognizable celebrities with good bodies. I think it would have been more effective and better for women if they had reversed this and showed the body of a female athlete with the male model but its a high fashion womens magazine, female athletes arent the ideal.

A black journalist wrote an article that made a good point that the people who get mad that this portrayal of negative stereotypes are also the same people who laugh at Tyler Perry's portrayal of " a single mama with three baby daddies, her loud-mouthed, weed-smoking, gun-toting Latino best girlfriend, a deadbeat daddy, a drunk sister and a deceased father who was a pimp-turned-preacher" in his recent movie. I suppose it is all dependent on the source. The comedy is written and produced by a black man while almost certainly the photographer and editors of Vogue are white.

I really don't have a main point with all of this, I just find the discussion intriguing and would be interested in hearing what other people think.


edluv said...

yeah, and lebron is so over all the controversy. he's like, "they said give me your intense game face and that's what i did."

nothing about gorilla. i'm actually curious who is making all the ruckus? because a part of me thinks it's white liberal guilty rather than blacks. but, that's just what i thought when i heard there was a stir.

good call on the sexist element.

and i don't know who the hell likes tyler perry.

Adam said...

I really couldn't be bothered to get in a dither about this. I don't know why. Maybe it's because it's Vogue and really, who gives a fuck? It's not like Vogue is the paragon here.

Who's Tyler Perry?

Ann Thrope said...

I don't think it's racist or sexist so much as racist and sexist. I really don't think there's any need to compare it to King Kong to see that it's racist.. You don't have to spend a ton of time browsing the porn sections at a video store to realize that that there is a well established stereotype about wild/animalistic black men with 12 inch cocks.

All that aside, I thing the cover is just poorly done from a graphic design stand point. The two people look awkward and stiffly posed and although I kind of get that they were going for the "contrast" thing I think it kind of fell flat. I would have much rather seen either all evening wear or all athletics, and I would definitely have rather seen a woman athlete.

edluv said...

wait, why is it racist?

Ann Thrope said...

Because the image shows a big fierce-looking black man with his arm around a white woman, who is running away from him. It's evocative of the whole "black men gonna come rape our women" thing that drives a lot of racism and porn.

I'm willing to give Vogue the benefit of the doubt on this one, I don't really thing that's what they're going for, but it does show a bit of a tin ear on their part.