Posted on February 2, 2010

Is Hollywood or Vanity Fair the Problem?

Richard Prince, Maynard Institute for Journalism Education, February 1, 2010

Vanity Fair’s February issue features Tiger Woods looking, some said, like a thug in prison. In 2008, another Annie Liebovitz cover showed NBA star LeBron James hustling both a ball and Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen in what to some looked like an homage to King Kong and Fay Wray.

The new March issue–the Hollywood issue–features a bevy of starlets, all of them white.

“Seriously folks,” blogger Tambay Obenson wrote Monday on the Shadow & Act Web site, “as we’ve already discussed quite a bit on this blog, where are all the young non-white actresses (and actors) with star potential who should be on this cover? Black? Latino? Asian? Etc? Surely, they could have located even one woman of color for the issue. Did they even try? All rhetorical questions, but . . . I mean . . . really!”

Vanity Fair spokeswoman Beth Kseniak told Journal-isms:

“Vanity Fair’s Hollywood cover has always been a reflection of Hollywood and the industry. Generally, as is the case this year, it’s made up of young actresses who already have a few films to their credit and will be appearing in more movies in the coming months.”

Gil Robertson IV, who founded the African American Film Critics Association, said via e-mail, “I really can’t say that I’m shocked, but I am a little startled as to how VF couldn’t include Zoe Saldana who had lead roles in 2 of the biggest films of the past year–‘Star Trek,’ and ‘Avatar’?

“There are certainly other African American actress like Paula Patton and Nicole Beharie, with current film profiles that equal many of the girls on this cover. It’s another reflection of our culture’s ongoing problem with race and racism. VF is supposed to be cutting-edge, but this cover shows no forward movement–it’s sadly just more of the same.”


Morales said being on the cover of Vanity Fair “can do wonders for any new actress.”