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3.27.2008

I had a friend instant message me today, asking if I'd seen the Vogue cover with Lebron James and Gisele Bundchen. Of course I have. Stevie Wonder has seen it. Anyway, this friend happens to be a black man who is deeply offended by the cover. I saw the following alternate on Jezebel, and sent it to him. Nope, that's not better, he said. Less blatant, but just as bad. As I told him, I'm the first person to be on the lookout for racism. It's ALWAYS racism. But... this isn't as problematic to me as the fact that Lebron James is the first black man to cover US Vogue (and the first black man to cover French Vogue was a leggy crossdresser - meanwhile Men's Vogue has covered Will Smith, Denzel Washington, and Obama). More problematic is that J.Hud was only the third black woman to cover US Vogue. Vogue is not the most diverse or racially sensitive crayon in the box. But the James-Bundchen cover? It just doesn't scream 'King Kong' to me. They both look like they're having fun. (Oh, and why isn't LeBron in a suit, as my friend and others have asked indignantly? All of the sports figures in the mag are dressed in uniform, while the models, uh, model.) Ta-Nehisi Coates makes a good point about racism debates about magazine covers versus, you know, actual racism. And The Assimilated Negro agrees that this is all a bit much. But what's your take on it?

9 new thought(s):

Yellow Rebel said...

I was actually telling someone on another blog that if you take it for face value, it's just LJ with his mouth open holding Bundchen. I mean it's naive to let go of history, but I mean reaching all the time is aimless. Put it like this; you'd have to ask the photographer what was running through her/his mind when they were shooting.

jameil1922 said...

the main issue i have w/this cover is that he's on vogue in that. THIS IS VOGUE and he doesn't look like it... he should've spoken up, too. has anyone seen the political campaigns lately? the state of public schools? the poverty rate? the CRAPPY dollar? foreclosure market? THE WAR IN IRAQ???? yeah... i care about ALL of those things a lot more than some hidden or overt racism on a fashion magazine cover.

CNEL said...

Was I not offended because I didn't expect much of it? I mean I heard LeBron would be on the cover but I didn't say yipty do a black man on Vogue. There are bigger accomplishment's to celebrate. While I think we have to be aware of the images, what is represented, and the messages it sends, I don't think everyone's seeing what "we're" seeing and who I mean by we is the offended parties. I did think to self, "Self why couldn't he have the cover himself" or "Self, could they have not found a black woman cause the white woman's going to raise eyebrows"

Stakes is High AKA Professor P said...

It's as simple as this; just don't buy the magazine. That's all we can say or do. You can't get mad because it's pointless to do. You can get mad at Lebron, and its not the first he's shown questionable judgment for certain issues.

Just not supporting the magazine is really as far as we can take it. Vague isn't going away anytime soon...

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Stacie von Kutieboots said...

meh. i thought he was going to do it by himself and in a suit. i was disappointed when I saw he was sharing and in a basketball get up but, i think jezebel is reaching. they make a valid point but at the end of the day, he's an athlete and she's a model. that's what the cover conveys.

shani-o said...

YR- I mostly agree with that. Of course, some have asked why the editors picked that particular shot when they had lots to choose from. But I look at that picture and I see great energy.

Jam- I definitely agree that there are many more important things to worry about. But in an image-driven, celebrity-driven culture, people are going to care more about magazine covers.

CNel- Don't you think people would've been offended if they'd picked a black woman? Because then, it would've been - "Vogue's afraid of interracial images!"

Stakes- Who should boycott Vogue? I'm pretty sure black people (the group that's offended by this cover) don't buy it anyway. And this is what makes a cover like this possible. At worst, it's out of touch, and that's because the target demo isn't the people who find it offensive.

Stace- I agree. While it would've been nice to see James all duded up, that wasn't the concept.

X Factor said...

I think I just missed "the concept" all together. I am not usually the one who sees racism where everyone else sees it, and once again, I haven't disappointed. I just don't get the combination of Lebron and Gisele... I'm so confused!

The Breaking Point said...

My take is that too often blacks seek to be offended and that this is such an occasion. Liebowitz and Vogue decided to have some fun, I think, and nothing more.

Eb the Celeb said...

I really dont see the racial undertones of the pic... I think sometimes as black people we overthink everything and have to make everything racial. I honestly dont think this picture was.