So, we’re sick then.
When I bought the April issue for $3.99 at the Barnes and Noble in Georgetown, I definitely felt queasy. Holding it with both hands and looking at James in black warm-ups (his own line for Nike) and Bundchen in Calvin Klein, the cover didn’t seem vulgar or racist or even non sequitur — just lazy. The woman at the register sucked her teeth and tapped the magazine with her finger. “This is a really popular issue,” she said. “Probably because of that photo.”
“LeBron James is a beast,” explained one of my guy friends, trying to justify the image. But even he agreed that coupling the animal metaphor with a white woman (yea, yea, she’s Brazilian) elevates the photo from still life to real life.
Vogue spokesman, Patrick O’Connell, has described the “shape” issue as celebrating “diversity.” If Vogue’s masthead was diverse then maybe someone would have lifted a manicured hand and said, “Hey, guys, excuse me, but umm this might not fly with some folks.”
Can we blame 57-year-old photographer Annie Leibovitz or 57-year-old editrix Anna Wintour? Had they never seen the seven movies based on the giant ape from Skull Island? Did they not know those films were about aggressive black male sexuality or did they think no one would notice?
“We fetishize the intentions in America,” said Goff. “Who cares whether Vogue intended to cause harm?” The point is — they did.
“This is not about who is or who isn’t racist,” Goff continued. “This is about living in the United States, seeing these images, not knowing where they come from, and not knowing how to be a good and wise consumer of them.”
What’s more is that Vogue seemed to be doing pretty decent when it came to celebrating actual diversity. Actress Jennifer Hudson graced its cover last year.
And then there’s Andre J., the genderless New York downtown diva who elevated the cover of French Vogue last November. He wore a traditional bob, turquoise trench, bare legs, broken wrist and ankle boots. He was fierce.