Time to Ask if Vanity Fair Is Racist (Again)
Vanity Fair has released its annual Hollywood cover, and now it's time for the fun though often futile, exercise of determining if the magazine has slighted minority actors and actresses based on their numbers and placement.
This article is from the archive of our partner . Vanity Fair
has released its annual Hollywood cover
, and now it's time for the fun though often futile, exercise of determining if the magazine has slighted minority actors and actresses based on their numbers and placement.
Shot by Mario Testino
in what looks to be the wedding dress store from Bridesmaids,
the cover shows (from left to right) Rooney Mara (channeling her Dragon Tattoo
persona), Jennifer Lawrence (standing), Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain ... let's cut to the the chase--Adepero Oduye (Pariah)
and Paula Patton (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol)
are on subsequent folds.
Pretty! Now, cue the "What's this all mean?" exercise, which has already begun in earnest.
Jezebel's Dodai Stewart explains why people and the media will inevitably get mad at this picture:
The ladies on the power panel — the left third, aka the actual newsstand cover — are Rooney Mara, Mia Wasikowska, Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain. Pariah's Adepero Oduye and Mission Impossible's Paula Patton are the only two ladies of color, and they are not on the power panel, but on the right two-thirds of the cover, which is folded up and tucked away when on newsstands.
Over the years Vanity Fair's Hollywood cover (Jezebel's Stewart traces covers back to 1995) placement of actors and reading the meaning behind them, as Stewart does, has become an annual exercise. It usually goes like, this:
Step One: Cover art comes out
Step Two: People try to figure out who the cover ladies and lads are under all that hair gel, makeup and odd styling
Step Three: Anger, outrage and speculation over who got place where, who was deserving, and why
Step Four: Blog posts and articles galore
Two years ago, the 2010 Hollywood cover
(right) had no actresses of color and left off Gabourey Sidibe who scored a career-defining hit with Precious
that year--leading many
in on the psyche
of Vanity Fair
's editors. "Frankly, I don’t expect I’ll live to see a 300-pound, dark-skinned black woman on the cover of Vanity Fair
, so I won’t even pretend that was an oversight of the sort they might ever address," wrote Kate Harding
on Salon. "But Zoe effing Saldana? Who was in two of the year’s hugest movies, and is endowed with pretty much every cherished marker of conventional beauty except “Ivory-soap-girl” skin?" Harding added, "More likely, the problem is that nobody thought even a hint of diversity on the 'new Hollywood' cover was really important enough to bother with — or, possibly, that nobody thought about it at all."
Zoe "effing" Saldana, who starred in Star Trek and Avatar, was actually on the magazine's 2008 Hollywood cover. And proving that this Vanity Fair racist cover art meme is a real thing, was asked about her "snub", leading to a seemingly off-topic response about why America is beautiful. "We can spend a lot of time bashing our beautiful country, but we don’t give it enough credit," Saldana said. "Our pace might be a little slow, and it might not be on par to how we as civilians would like it to be, but it’s still an amazing country."
And Saldana's response kind of hits the point. New York's Vulture puts the cover person jockeying and our interest in it more specifically, "Indeed, it kind of seems like Zoe Saldana... has earned first-panel privileges by now, no? ... Or is Vanity Fair simply reflecting a Young Hollywood reality?"
Whatever the answer, questions like it have been asked over and over for years.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.