Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"Strike a pose"


Okay, look at this picture I have up for this post. Do you see anything offensive? It's the first time a black man has appeared on the cover of Vogue (I guess some folks would consider that fact in of itself offensive. Has a white man ever appeared on the cover of Essence?), and it's causing a stir because of its big Black King Kong frail white lady imagery.


Now I must be getting soft with my racial sensors (See what you did "O" man? It's all this talk about rising above race), but I really don't see the racism in this shot. It's Le Bron, a basketball player, posing for pics with a super model. No harm no foul from where I sit. The picture itself I really don't have a problem with, now Vogue Magazine, well, that's a different story. Couldn't someone like Denzel Washington, or even the "O" man grace their cover first? Why did it have to be a scowling athlete? Boy next to their pets, A-merry-cans sure love their athletes. I bet good old Tiger wouldn't be slipping in the polls if he were running from President. But I seriously digress.


Hey maybe some of you see something different, but I am going to take a pass on slamming this particular pic. Not Vogue Magazine, just this pic.


Unless somebody makes a good argument and shows me something I don't see right now; "me thinks we protest too much".

112 comments:

Wine Dog said...

I concur counselor. Much ado about nothing.

(fŭng'kē) [blak] [chik] said...

I don't know why people are so up in arms over this..the fact is, is that there are so many other things to worry about now...

Personally, the crime in the photo to me is that hideous green dress she's wearing and the way her neck looks like it's about a foot long.

Yes, I do think, "me thinks we protest too much" about shit that isn't quite relevant..especially right now...

jose said...

maybe most of us have a complaint because the last 2 dudes to appear on the cover of Vogue had their arms all around the model, looking rather comfortable and even like he might get with her, but here we see King James, who like King Kong, has a white woman wrapped around only one arm (and she's dressed in a dress similar to the dress that the woman in King Kong has). Also note that LeBron James is one of the best dressed men in sports, and has a sharp image off-court, so I'm confused as to why they'd have him in rags when they could have just as easily put him in a suit and tie like he usually is. He's very careful with his image, so this surprises me.

Maybe it's also the feeling that, no matter how far we come, we can never get far enough before we get reminded of how far away from the racial images that tie us to the past. I'm not asking anyone to not be offended if they're not, but everyone involved knows EXACTLY what goes on a cover, and how things are supposed to look when they do things like this, so this strikes me as very suspicious is all.

jose said...

btw, the other 2 men who appeared on the cover were George Clooney and Richard Gere in their primes ...

field negro said...

"Also note that LeBron James is one of the best dressed men in sports, and has a sharp image off-court, so I'm confused as to why they'd have him in rags when they could have just as easily put him in a suit and tie like he usually is. He's very careful with his image, so this surprises me."

Good points Jose, but could that be because A-merry-ca wants to see the black man as an athlete and nothing else?

"Personally, the crime in the photo to me is that hideous green dress she's wearing and the way her neck looks like it's about a foot long."

**ouch**

Adabu said...

Yo! field what you need to do is goole the image of king kong and fay wray. By the way they call him King James, sound familiar.

www.hollywoodgothique.com/kingkong1933.html

This is an image I found that has the same facial expression.

Christopher said...

Sorry, I don't get it.

Each is a well known celebrity in their respective field, Vogue is selling fitness in this issue, and Gisele and LeBron are at the top of their game.

What if they had tennis star Serena Williams posed along side the Mets 3rd baseman, David Wright? Would people be tripping then too?

Like I said, I don't get the uproar is about.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the racism, but I do see the ugly.....

Grata said...

I can not explain why but the image does not sit well with me and I am not A-merry-can.

But I know that Black American Women will definitely not like it. Its another slap in their face.

Same old story, the high achieving athlete with the White woman being finally given a seal of approval by vogue will naturally offend the sensibilities of some in the BC.

jjbrock said...

Field I don't see a problem. Petty stuff!

(fŭng'kē) [blak] [chik] said...

@ Jose...
Why be surprised at him letting them photograph him that way...

Money talks. It's the American way.

Christopher said...

Now, this is racist:

"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept." - Klan seamstress, Geraldine Ferraro

Kellybelle said...

I agree with Jose. He could have had on a nice suit and been balancing a basketball. He didn't need to have his mouth all unhinged like that.

Anonymous said...

No big deal.

Watch out for Deval Patrick news tomorrow.

GiGi - The Shy Giraffe said...

for the love of gawd... i think the cover is SUPERBBBB!!

folks need to chill down...

Wanda said...

I agree. Only a serious movie buff wouldve pulled that King Kong reference. They are guilty of putting a crappy pic on thier cover.

I've got this issue of Vogue and frankly there was a better picture of Lebron and Gisele that could have been used.

field negro said...

"But I know that Black American Women will definitely not like it. Its another slap in their face."

Okay, here comes Kitty....10-9-8-7-.....

I will defer to my Black sisters on this to tell me how they feel about it.

el.conejo said...

just another millionaire with a hot gringa..but personally, beyonce would look better in that pict

Ms.Martin said...

I agree, it's a fitness issue. Who's really protesting?

Anonymous said...

I can't get offended over the photo, either. Yeah, it would have been nice if he was wearing dress clothes, but whatever. All I can think looking at it is that they've both looked better.

Big Man said...

It's funny how may of y'all didn't have a problem.

My first reaction when I saw the pic a while back was "King Kong" and I even ran it past one of my partners who isn't as racially sensitive and he saw it too.

In fact, several black people I know saw the same thing with the picture. I wonder about the screaming, the white women hanging on his arm looking slightly frightened. There were several other pictures inside the magazine that had no animalistic overtones that the photog could have used, but she didn't. I think that's interesting and I'm inclined to believe the King Kong thing is a good read on the situation

Big Man said...

And I believe that model is Tom Brady's main squeeze.

Do y'all think that if Tom Brady's getting his picture snapped he's screaming and scowling? Or looking like Joe Cool?

Could be the difference in their on court personas or it could be some racially heinous shit, who on this blog is really willing to put that shit past this white magazine?

How about if I told you this was only the fifth black person to appear on the cover of Vogue in its history.?

See things differently at all?

Ms.Martin said...

Why black-eyed peas gotta be called black?

Who the fuck cares who's on the cover of Vogue?

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Well, you can certainly look at a picture like that and infer racism easy enough. Mr. James looks all primal and stuff while the super model looks so white and innocent. blah, blah, blah.
I look at that picture and I can't help believing that there wasn't some racist intent in it's publication.
But really, at what point do we just start ignoring such bullshit and work to present other more constructive images instead of freaking out and putting a whole lot of wasted energy behind such protests that, in the end matter little. . . or do they?
The past 3 minutes is more than the totality of any attention I've ever paid in the past to "Vogue" magazine.
You're right Ms. Martin. . . who the fuck cares about Vogue? I don't particularly want to hang with anyone who does.

Cali Tejano said...

Tom Brady might have a problem with that cover. Giselle looks pretty happy in LeBron's arms.

affrodite said...

I'm kind of feelin' sagacioushillbilly.

At the same time, my first reaction, when seeing the photo, was an eyebrow raise (wondering why Shaq looked like that in comparison). That was my instinctive reaction. It took me scrolling through all of your reader's comments down to ms. martin before realizing it was a fitness issue. You see the power of imagery?

This happens so much that I don't feel like burning my bra over it, but it concerns me. There was something deliberate here, but in my mind, it's a choose your battles thing.

When you think Vogue, you think high fashion. I do not look at this cover and think high fashion...even in the context of sports.

lmb said...

OK, counselor.

This has been up for about a week. But I saw when Jason Whitlock had something to say about it that you might take a pass at it, however brief.

There's certainly an inherent slap at black men here.

There's also an implicit slap at black women, but, given the tenor of other discussions on the blog, I'll make you a big bet that either you don't see it or you don't care -- because there are "other and bigger things to be concerned about first."

I will give you the priority of the other things if at some point you take a little time for some semiotics and imagery analysis research. Images like these subliminally embed and support the attitudes that permit the more heinous things -- like centuries of economic disparity, maybe? Like institutional racism? You know, those things you DO care about so much? -- to happen.

Just some thoughts.

(And personally, I'm not thrilled that I'd have to see a white feminist blog take up the semiotics issues, as they relate to institutionalized racism, before I'd see my brothers do it. It feels like a real letdown. But that's just me.)

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2008/03/15/i-know-vogue-isnt-exactly-racially-conscious-but/

affrodite said...

Oops! It was Lebron. My bad. Guess I had a blond moment. :-P ...and now I've lost credibility...but my point still stands, if ya'll sports fanatics can get over my faux pas.

heartsandflowers said...

Well Field I have a Vogue subscription and I found it distasteful. The other photos inside the mag were much more refined and would have made better covers. Also when JHud was on the cover last year she looked she was yelling or opening her mouth really wide for food..or something else. See a few years back Anna put Kiara on a July issue [the lightest issue of the year] and wrote this letter from the editor about trying to expand racial boundaries or some bs. She was being apologetic about putting a Black model on the cover and it pissed me off. So perhaps with one quick glance you might dismiss it but the implication is clear imo. I wasn't expecting this kind of post from you Field. I didn't know you looked at fashion mags! Also Racialicious blog did a posting on this last week. I found it insightful.

marci said...

i agree with fkbc on this however i have never seen king kong so am coming from that perspective..
you should check the november issue of french vogue with andre j... google it.. it was and still is fire...

Miss Profe said...

I first saw this cover over on Racialicious. While I appreciate Jose's point-of-view, the matter of this cover is not the most newsworthy story of the day - after all there are now over 4,000 US troops which have been killed in Iraq, gas prices are at an all-time high, the economy is at an all-time low in many years. As far as how I feel as a Black woman? It doesn't bother me that Le Bron is on the cover with a White woman. We need to get past things like that, and focus on issues that directly impact the phyiscal and economic health of Black woman. Creating a row about the Vogue cover doesn't assist either of those matters.

elle said...

I first read about the racial overtones on Byron Crawford's hip-hop blog. By insinuated that it was a very subtle "fuck you" to Black people and critics that called Vogue racist for having so few Black faces on it. Otherwis, I don't give a shit about Vogue,much less the people that read it.

imb:

I will give you the priority of the other things if at some point you take a little time for some semiotics and imagery analysis research. Images like these subliminally embed and support the attitudes that permit the more heinous things -- like centuries of economic disparity, maybe? Like institutional racism? You know, those things you DO care about so much? -- to happen.

Just some thoughts.

People that read Vogue don't got any authority,much less GEDs.

shinola black said...

I find it offensive.

I find it reminiscent of that Fay Wray/King Kong imagery used to sell this movie at the time whites were still cooning in black face.

Here's why:

1. It continues to perpetuate the offensive stereotype of blacks as apes and monkeys, although a big one. (It's already been shown that whites have more ape-like physical features than blacks.)

2. It continues the stereotype that all a black man wants is a "typical white woman." (Is that a stereotype?)

3. It continues the stereotype that white women possess some kind of mysterious power over black men--that they can tame his inner beast (Perhaps not a stereotype--black/white couples appear to be unnaturally content with each other.).

4. It continues the now passé belief that a black man and a white woman together will spark controversy, and racist discussions. (Well, I guess it depends on what part of town you hang out in.)

5. It continues the stereotype that the black man is some kind of super stud (Hell, I agree with that one. Still a stereotype, though.)

6. It continues the stereotype that, beware white men, the black man, especially those black athletes with all that green, is gonna take your white women from your broke, penniless ass.

7. It continues the stereotype that white women secretly want a black stud (that Mandingo complex thing. Probably true, through.)

8. It continues what is now a repetitive assault on social norms (adopted by Hollywood, and the fashion industry), a cadre of men and women socially engineering what they want society to look like, seeking to overturn this taboo, to make in socially irrelevant.

(I don't like to be socially engineered.)

9. It continues the stereotype of presenting blacks in the worse possible light, rather than the best possible light.

(The studio light flattered the woman but not LeBron. He looks almost as bad as O.J. did on that magazine cover showing his doctored mug shot.)

10. It continues the stereotype that blacks are only good at athletics, and not intellectual standouts. With that all-black sports outfit, it's hard to tell where it ends, and LeBron begins (I've got bad eye sight.) Peyton Manning wouldn't have been made to look this stupid and threatening.

That's ten reason why I find this Vogue cover offensive. I could find more. For example, I'm offended that LeBron's not offended, but, then, ten is a good round number.

shinola black said...

@SagaciousHillbilly:

"But really, at what point do we just start ignoring such bullshit and work to present other more constructive images instead of freaking out and putting a whole lot of wasted energy behind such protests that, in the end matter little. . . or do they?"

White America (at least white cable news) seems obsessed with the image and tone of Rev. Wright's denunciation of this government, past and present.

And they're out to punish the hell out of him, and Obama, for daring to listen to this man's anti-American, bigoted, racist rantings all those years.

Media hounds have been commissioned to follow Rev. Wright around, to listen in on his speeches.

I believe that that's the real reason he's canceled some of his talks, and not because of a lack of security.

Imagery, unfortunately, still matters.

Truth...not so much.

shinola black said...

@Christopher:

"What if they had tennis star Serena Williams posed along side the Mets 3rd baseman, David Wright? Would people be tripping then too?"

Christopher, I'm a big fan of yours, but...

If they showed Serena in a dominatrix pose, racket in hand, and Wright kneeling at her feet.

I believe that more than blacks would be outraged.

I know this is an extreme image, but, for many blacks, it's no more extreme than the one that graces the cover of Vogue now.

We've always known what the King Kong image represented, and it didn't flatter us.

Maybe some where flattered.

pressandcurl said...

I agree Field Man...no big deal.

And, at least he's not drooling over her.

shinola black said...

@pressandcurl:

"And, at least he's not drooling over her."

No, he's growling, telling you and all other apes, that this is my woman, stay away, or suffer the consequences--"I'll flatten your ass with one smash of my powerful right hand."

Kristina said...

but isn't it rather disturbing that it comes in the wake of the much criticised ueber-white fashion season which prompted even models to stage a protest? check the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/sep/15/usa.fashion

i think that makes it much worse.

Global Wire said...

With all due respect to the complainers, there is enough real racism in the world; there is no need to try to create it where it doesn't exist. Is there still racial stereotyping in the magazine publishing world - yes, definitely? But, this is not an example of it and this is just much ado about nothing.

Furthermore, if the complainers spent more time on the disappearing media attention in the Gulf Region since Hurricane Katrina, or the thousands of people being killed in Darfur at the hands of the Sudanese gov't - you know, real racism - maybe we could actually accomplish something good for once.

Hell, we should really be complaining about all the Tyler Perry movies perpetuating racial stereotypes...

Jody said...

What does one expect from an industry that perpetuates stereotypes of women all the friggin time? The fashion industry had made its fortune selling images of women that are destructive to most women's sense of body image. It has fed into millions of young girls heads that they are not tall enough, skinny enough, don't have good enough hair, skin... It has obsessed on "looks" over substance and most destructively, that you are valued for your appearance, not your mind. And for those that say, hey, nothing wrong with tryin to look good... I will say sure... but where the fuck is the industry tellin our teenaged girls how wonderful and sexy it is to be smart, creative, successful in their own right, that doesnt have a thing to do with how they look or how appealing they are to a man?

David Sullivan said...

How about LeBron with his pimp hat on bitch slapping a whored out Giselle with one hand holding Tom Brady at gun point with the other.

THAT might be offensive...or as funny as hell!!!

AgentX said...

I don't find it offensive at all- but I guess I can't say the same of everybody.

IT is a goofy photo, though. But, you've got to consider whom the market is- bored white women.
Vogue is a mag they leave around doctor's offices and such. It's not Time or a print version of the Field Negro Blog. It's supposed to be somewhat light reading.

Think of it from the perspective of the women who read it-
a) they might have heard or seen Lebron James once. Maybe they saw a part of a game with the family or a child mentioned James to her
b) The stereotype of the big black man of the big black dick is still big in the minds of people. Why do you think Lexington Steele makes big bucks in porno? This mag is tapping that 'desire'.
c) Look at Giselle. Yeah, she's hot. Because women's minds are warped thanks to mags like Vogue, Fox News, the Christian Right, and the MSM, they look at her like she's the role model- sexy, smart(?), easy job, famous hubby, good teeth, and an aggressive man on the side. For some reason, white women are panicky about being raped by a black man- yet they're obsessed over the dick. Someone call in Freud to analyze this hypocrisy.

When you put it into the context of their target audience- the photo makes sense.

Hathor said...

It is a bad cover, there's no power in his athletics, if this issue is about being fit. You can't even see his body:) She only looks like a model, not a woman whose physically fit. The perfect cover, Jordan and Serena. So I wonder what was the point, or did they want the movie imagary to draw attention to the magazine.

field negro said...

ms martin, I disagree, imagery is important in A-merry-ca, and some good arguments have been made with the above comments(see big man and shinola black) as to why. Where I disagree is that this particular pic is offensive as some might think.(although I must admit that shinola black almost had me convinced)

jody and kristina also make some good points about the fashion industry and how they need to be checked, and I could do another post on that alone.

"..I wasn't expecting this kind of post from you Field."

I know predictability has never been one of my best attributes.
As I said in my post, I do, and always have had issues with some of these mags, such as Vogue. But the pic itself....I don't know.

andy said...

dear field, tom brady is a robot. in a game against the jets two years ago his arm got scraped by a defender's face mask and the vinyl flesh was sliced and you could see the robot. the camera cut away fast as soon as it was visible. i don't know how that relates to king kong and giselle. i'm a big pistons fan so i am generally annoyed by lebron. and the picture is loaded and provocative. good thing bad thing. maybe get people to question these media stereotypes, maybe not

jjbrock said...

Field this is the same Photographer Annie Leibovitz who did the photo of Jeniffer Hudson for the cover of vogue. So, could it be the photographer?

Mr. James has stated that he has no problem with the picture.

marci said...

do the post on the fashion/magazine industry field.. there are a lot of people here with much to get off their chests..

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Because, despite perceived progress, America is an inherently racist country. The End.

Anywhere else, this picture isn't a blip on anyone's radar, but here in the good ol' USA, a Black Man and a White Woman is STILL AN ISSUE.

Why else do you think when Jet or Ebony does a cover story on a prominent African-American, if the spouse is not a brotha or a sista, the spouse gets in mention in the article, but not featured in pics.

Obviously it's an issue for Black Publications, too.

I commend Vogue for trying to break into the 21st Century. Only the racist dittoheads have a problem with this.

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Okay, Field, from this sista's perspective:

The time to get offended about the big black brute was when D.W. Griffith came out with "Birth of a Nation."

I'm sensitive to see what the fuss would be about with LeBron and Gisele - but some sistas, like me, don't really have a problem of brothas hooking up with white women unless they are using the white woman as an excuse not to hang with a sista.

Then again, some brothas have problems with Black Women, and quite honestly, a sista doesn't need a brotha with those "kinds of problems" because someone has to take that silly brotha off our hands, LOL.

I have white relatives - they married into the family, but nonetheless, they are my family members now, and that's how I was raised. I only have a problem if a brotha disses all Black Women, and says he has to date white as a result.

Vogue could have used better pictures, and my thinking is that LeBron did it for the money.

Some things money can't buy - like dignity and respect. He could have demanded a better picture on the cover if he wanted to.

Think about that. Sometimes, those with money can make the most stupid decisions, even though they look inconsequential at the time.

marci said...

and the editor at large of vogue is andre leon talley...
applaud the man for having this milestone under his belt...
he certainly didn't have to do it... it would have been easier not to...

Christopher said...

The stereotype of the big black man of the big black dick is still big in the minds of people. Why do you think Lexington Steele makes big bucks in porno? This mag is tapping that 'desire'.

Who can say "No" to a big dick?

Certainly not me. This doesn't make me a racist -- it makes me a size queen. I luvs me some big dick.

Woozie said...

THANK YOU FIELD

I don't see it either. I could understand if she was screaming, and he was pounding his chest and swatting at airplanes. I've long felt black people are hypersensitive and quick to call anything racism.

InnerCityRose said...

As an black woman, this cover doesn't slap me in the face at all. What I see is two people on the cover of a magazine, one a basketball star and the other a supermodel. Why must we always look for a "hidden agenda" in everything? Why can't it just be a cover, maybe not the best cover but a cover nonetheless.

denise said...

Uhm, I see the King Kong parallel. I also recall that the Jennifer Hudson cover shot was similarly jacked. Wasn't her wide mouth open, too? Very unflattering.

But frankly, who cares? There are more pressing, blatantly "racialicious" issues to discuss. Plus, who buys Vogue??

Whatevvvvvvvva :: shrug ::

marci said...

these are sensitive times innercityrose *inwardly wishing that tag was mine*...
this cover was probably shot 3 months ago and look at the furore...
folks being distracted by a cover of vogue...
oh hell no...
there's bigger fish to fry...

innercityrose said...

Marci.. agreed. I wonder though how many people would have really picked up on the king kong angle at first glance of the cover, had it not been brought to their attention by someone else?? Hence their "aha" moment!

Lola Gets said...

Aint nothin wrong with being a size queen, lol.

But I do have to mention something...I do not believe that LeBron was the first Black man to appear on Vogue. The FIRST Black man appeared a few months ago...but it was a trans-gendered Black man. I tried to find you guys the link (Ive seen it around the 'net) but I couldnt find it. And, I dont remember what the dudes name is. But...if dude still has his penis...then technically hes a man!

Now, I can see some'a'yall having some serious issues with THAT one, but hey...at least the transgendered dude was wearing a stylish womens suit and a nice pageboy hairdo -as opposed to LeBrons athletic gear and grimicing face.

Dragon Horse said...

Would Yao Ming be on the cover with her in this type of pose?

What about Nash?

I think not.

THat is all I have to say.

Randi523 said...

As an slight aside, I wonder why so many (NBA) athletes have tattoos all over the place, looking like world maps.

But as far as the photo goes, I couldn't care less. Yeah, maybe they should have put LeBron in a suit and Stacy Adams, but WHATEVER! LeBron openly commented that he didn't care what people thought about the photo, so why should we??

Like Field commented, why do we only have to see athletes as 'athletes'?

And yeah, chick's neck is mile-long! LOL

Dragon Horse said...

You know…when I am walking in DC at night (a fairly liberal city) and a white woman alone moves away from me and looks the other way half scared or when I’m in the elevator and a white woman (almost always white, never black, rarely Hispanic or Asian) moves her purse to the other side and moves away from me (yes this happens in real life) and usually on the weekend or when I’m in a strange place (where people don’t know me or I’m not dressed up those people don’t think…

“oh this guy has a Master’s degree and is likely some computer nerd professional”..


These people think I’m like Lebron James, big dark black guy, on the cover of that magazine potentially about to rob or rape them. You (and I) know who he is, but I think a lot of people who read Vogue do not…he is just “some black athlete”.

You know until I was in my early 20’s I thought that was just normal, until I went to Japan and realized that Japanese women don’t “move” at night. I was surprised. Why? They aren't trained to fear and hate black people. Then when I came back I started watching these things…watching how people react to white men, etc…

Flip the script in the U.S.,being that I don’t feel white women fear Asian men in that way…Yao Ming posing like that with some blond model might make him look “more manly” to some…it is not the same thing…we would not be having these conversations because no one things Dave Wang is going to rob and rape them (although it could happen…that is not what we think of when we think of Asian guys in this country).

marci said...

lola g
it was andre j.. i mentioned him and it earlier.. he appeared on the french vogue cover in november...
i loved it then and i love it now..

cocoa goddess said...

1) It's the Vogue fitness issue. Why is Giselle the only one wearing so-called fashionable attire? How does this cover call attention to fitness?

2) Most photoshoots take at least 4 rolls of 36 frames. You mean to tell me out of 144 shots, THIS is the best shot to put on the cover? Give me a break. Plus, people had to approve the final cover.

3) Is there a lifetime Coonie Award because I vote for Whitlock
http://msn.foxsports.com/nba/story/7955740?MSNHPHMA

Greg said...

What you see is what you bring .

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Christopher, you're so naughty! LOL

west coast story said...

Oh, good lord. I'm with you, FN, on this one. If the woman was looking at him in abject terror, then maybe (or maybe not). But she looks like she's having a good time. This kind of whining from black people really works my last good nerve.

Andrea said...

I saw the cover before the media and blog community belly-hoo. I was in the grocery store and the first thing I thought was, "Yuck!" I thought Lebron looked animalistic and I put the issue down really quick. I was instantly embarrassed. I remember the feeling in my chest.

Being that I normally am offended by the sensenationalizing display of the Black Male coupled with White Females, that did not cross my mind this time. I didn't give myself enough time to stare because I felt deflated. The cover shocked me. I just saw a stereotypical frame of how America sees our men and it disgusted me.

I had no idea anyone else (in real-time in the world) would be bothered as well. For me, I was just simply embarrassed as a Black Person having to see White Media tell us who we are. Vogue is a standard.

So with that said, it's not that you are being soft, Field. That image is shocking when you know Lebron does not have to look like that and the balance could be if she was scowling as well. I then would not have been as offended.

RedLipstick said...

...yawn.

Sharing a link written about O back in 95. I'm taken by the thread of consistency with his current message.

http://www.chicagoreader.com/obama/951208/

Brother on a Bike said...

Typical for black folk to get upset over some minor shit. Being a black man I am more upset at the shitty music that is played on the radio or black parents who are failing to raise their kids and blaming it on the school system. This goes back to the word "nigga" and the so-called negro leaders trying to banish the word. Focus on the big picture and the truth within the black community and let little petty shit go!

west coast story said...

And might I add that comparing this athlete whoever he is to King Kong is flat out racist. I don't care if the comparison comes from someone black. Just plain racist. He's a big black guy who I presume kicks butt on the court, or field, or wherever, and he's mixing it up with a with a white model who seems to be enjoying herself. This is a racist image? Calling him King Kong is racist. The photo is not.

Finally, it is, after all, black men who are out in the world, in fact exporting around the world, the image of the macho black badass. You can't have it both ways. If Vibe can do it, then so can Vogue.

By the way, I suspect that Japanese women don't move away from people, specifically men, because they don't have unchecked violent street crime in Japan like in the US.

Inkogkneegrow said...

I am going to have to disagree with you on this one Field. When I was in college I took a course that focused on subliminal racism in advertising. There are people who know what by equating sex with images they can sell stuff. Like automakers that name car models "SX" or beer companies that portray the off da hinges Vegas style booty shake party to sell Lite beer. Liquor ads will often times show you a picture of a glass of whiskey on the rocks with the word "SEX" written in shadows in the ice cubes. Trust me when I say this is a science. They are also proficient in using images to convey racism.

Notice the angry looking, scowling black man with the white woman who appears to trying to run away but is held back by the monster. Once again, why is a well-dressed man wearing what looks like practice attire on the cover of a fashion magazine? They are selling fashion & the whole "ugly betty","the devil wears prada" lifestyle. Where do sweats fit into that? These are not people who just run into a studio for a photo shoot and randomly start clicking away. They plan the imagery. They plan the layouts. What's the plan here?

Why is he scowling while she is all smiles? Are we to believe that he is in the middle of driving the lane with a white woman in one arm?

If this were the cover to ESPN, I would be more understanding... maybe. At least they would have the argument that he should be dressed as if he is on the court. Unless Vogue is about to start promoting throwbacks, I just don't get it.

C'mon Field...you have some great old school images on your blog from the days of outright racist imagery. I'm sure you can find the prototype "white woman running from the black beast" image that this cover got its inspiration from.

Randi523 said...

I forgot to put this in my 1st comment: I read on msnbc.com that LeBron said that he posed with the expression that he did b/c "he wanted to look excited (about his success, I guess...)", which is where the look comes from.

I remember the last time I was excited, i.e. graduating from college in 2005, a time that would definitely deem as a successful, proud moment, and in all of the poses I made for pictures, I didn't look like that! LOL

RhondaCoca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BrownSugaQT86 said...

I really enjoy how much you people cant pick up on this. Its just a picture, its not a representation of the ideologies and stereotypes that are so deeply embedded in our society.

:::Ignorance is truly bliss:::

Now let me go smell some roses...

marci said...

FIELD!!!!!!
post something else....
anything...
end this please...

Anonymous said...

Wow. It is quite obvious that some cough...Marci aren't interested in being involved in an educated debate. I dont think that a big deal should be made out of it but why cant it be discussed. Wow. I like some of the people here have also done research on advertising and media images and I do see where some people are calling foul in regards to this particular image. But once again, lets just talk about Obama...yes field please, there is nothing else we can discuss other than Obama.

Why dont you guys head over to the sites where they are still claiming that the Clintons did not race bait this entire election and that BLACKS are too damn hypersensitive!! Head over!! Its the same thing.

Duh there are wars and things of that nature, global warming and disease so I guess everything else in the world should be ignored. If people always thought like this then we would still be in the era of blackface.

marci said...

do you really, really and in all honesty see a gorilla on the cover of vogue?

Anonymous said...

Lebron didn't finish high school - he's not very smart - hence his comment about wanting to look excited by scowling - he's an idiot. He looks like an animal on this cover.

Giselle looks like a horse. Why is it that white people consider horse-like looking women beautiful? Check the cover of sports illustrated swimsuit issue and you will see what I mean. The white standard of beauty is quite jacked up.

I used to be a vogue subscriber for 2 years from 97-98 but when I realised that they never put black people on the cover, I decided to put an end to that. Now, they put a black person and this is the best they could do? (And yes I remember the Jhud cover and it wasn't very flattering either.)

marci said...

oh i agree the representation of the black models is an issue (a whole other conversation) - but that is not the issue here... anonymous (why the mask?)
i do not see an animal.. i do not see a horse..
i see human beings who are at the top of their game...
you are jacked up..
good night..
punk ass no name !@£$%^%..

Lola Gets said...

@Marci
Thanks for the correction! I missed your comment. Sometimes Field gets so many, I scroll through too quickly, lol.

Ok, so, um, now arent all you Black American males happy that it was LeBron and not a transgender on the cover of American Vogue?? Huh? Huh? Huh??
:)

L

Christopher Chambers said...

No, it is offensive. As I've said time again, Lebron has attained MJ's mantle of self-promoting dickhead...an utter waste to us as a people on a more fundamental level than balling and cash money (and look what the false pursuit of those golden cows have done to our communities).
He is King Kong. To younger white folks, i think it wouild be more threatening to have Obama or ken Chenault of Amex on the cover. It is all about selling to Peoria, to whites. lebron knows that. So did MJ. F- em both!!!

Christopher Chambers said...

PS Filed--when did they turn the PSFS Building in a hotel?


Also, I was having a coffee by City hall aand a number of folks came up to me and aksed if I was the deputy mayor or so and so...

marci said...

so..in conclusion
you have had to have seen king kong 1 to make any sense of and take offence regarding this cover...
so many people behind us both black and white will have never seen it... i for one am not running out to get a copy... ..
how will you legislate that the movie becomes required viewing just for moments like these?
no.. don't tell me.. i am looking forward to tomorrow...

west coast story said...

So after we've beaten this dead horse to a bloody pulp, might I propose we discuss the intricacies of the brown paper bag test, and good and bad hair?


Say good night, Gracie.

shinola black said...

@innercityrose:

"Why must we always look for a "hidden agenda" in everything? Why can't it just be a cover, maybe not the best cover but a cover nonetheless."

Because, for the most part, we don't have control over the images that are shown about us, to us and the world.

I'd say: stay vigilant.

Images in video games, movies, magazines, and on television define us here (at home), and abroad.

The world see us, all too often, as pimps and whores, gangbangers, on welfare, and with loose morals.

Africans have for years been shown as savages.

Consider the images that they have put out there of Rev. Wright: as radical, bigoted, and racist.

Since we're not able to counter the images, we should at least speak up when these images distort black male reality, or for that part, black female reality.

A picture, I'm told, is worth a million words.

If we stop speaking up about stupid, vile, realty-distorting images, then we give these image producers carte blanche to portray us in any damn way they please.

That doesn't make me sensitive or thin skin, it makes me cautious, given the history of this country.

I want to stop the image producers marginalization of blacks, and their less than sensitive characterization of our people.

The message is: we can portray you anyway we want, and keep your mouths shut, if you are offended by that portrayal.

And if you do speak up, we'll brand you as overly sensitive, and playing the "race card."

Hell, keeping quiet keeps you powerless. Speaking up, at least, allows you to keep your power, and take it back when others attempt to take it away from you.

Lastly, people behave towards you the way you're perceived.

Let's make sure that the perception is based in reality.

Angie said...

I'm 32-years-old. Interestingly, I've been blind now for more years than I was able to see. But even stil, I understand the power of sight/visual images. It's unusual to me that all of these sighted folks are discounting the power that an image can hold.

Now grant it, perception plays a huge role when looking at an image. Therefore, it is very likely that some see nothing, while others see something. But I think that it is important that we understand that those who see something are not just coming up with that from their imagination. Their experiences and memories prompt a certain perception of the image. If some look at this picture and are totally offended, I think that they are not being overly sensitive. They are just being honest.

I can't even see. But I totally understand what the fuss is.
Two messages are likely to leak from this image.
1. The King Kong/helpless white woman image (I actually got a chance to see King Kong when I was a kid. I can really understand how this could cause some to think that the white magazine execs could be trying to somehow create the imadry of a big black man with a little white woman with the King Kong theme.)
2. Rich, successful, black man with his trophy, the white woman (And yes, Field, there are some black women that still get pissed off when they are forced to cope with successful black men chasing after their pale dreamgirls. I talk to plenty of sistahs who hate the very notion of a successful black man choosing a white woman, just because he feels like that's what seals the deal on his success.)

A

StillaPanther2 said...

Hrother Field,Seeing tnat we as a race have not the means to protray ourselves in more positive light, we will continue to question "real or memrox"? Having lived in two Americas (seg/post se) the impact of race causes a lot of angst on the part of the over 50 gang. When I saw the photo on the tube, feelings of the past presented an awful taste in my mouth. I was living in the time period when this photo was illegal and could get a Black man killed. Just like "hip hop" when you get to be 60+,. you will most likely be a defender of this lifestyle. Therfor for me I didnt like the picture.. the young man has been alive only 20+ years. Very few Black males were taught that you need to carry a sense of pride for your race...dont be fooled in thinking the successful races in America dont encourage their offsprings to carry forth some traits that they feel are important. Brother LeBron cant be blamed because it seems no one taught him the lessons of the past. to all the Black males that have been killed, lynched, burned alive, ran over tied to railroad tracks, shot and etc; I say forgive him.. for he know not. P.S. I suppose if the Black male/female relationship was stronger; pictures likethis would not bother me. That brother may not even know about King Kong and connections to race. StillaPanther2 is not racist, I just want my race to be seen in a positve light.

LaSmartOne said...

Hey Field Negro, It's racist because it feeds into the King Kong meme. And it takes two seconds to point that out and put a racist aura over it. We *can't* let the culture setters get away with any sort of racist dehumanization or else it will filter back into social policy that we don't deserve our strides towards first-class citizenship. Jennifer Hudson's cover picture had her with her mouth wide open, like an ape... Vogue has a history of making black people look animalistic. Reinforcing the deep-seated bestial fantasies of blacks by white people. You say no foul, is it because you're so inured to racism you can't call Spade by his true name?

Anonymous said...

it's the power pose. when your woman is with you she's really thinking about me. it's usually posed by white males with women of other racial or ethnic groups, but lately black men have been posing. even your philly football wide receiver did no on monday night football a while back. the picture might offend black people because we have been subject to a negative reaction from the white community in the past. obama may lose a few votes over this? it's probably nothing wrong with the picture. vogue is pandering towards it target audience white females. if it sales are good look for similar poses on cosmopolitan, redbook,etc.

black | woman | unhinged said...

Christ.

A lot of folk still aren't doing enough critical thinking about the power of imagery. To minimize the propaganda of BEAUTY and how it effects our choices, is to minimize our understanding and to increase our IGNORANCE.

We wouldn't put such limits on our understanding of say...politics or economics...the oh, so manly, SERIOUS issues.

Heck, we don't even try to see how the barrage of white female beauty propaganda, effects politics and economics. You know why? Most people don't think that deeply.

No one yet has even touched on what this image implies about black female beauty...which I find very interesting.

reservoirgod said...

Field:

The best post I read about this cover is at http://dwil.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/lebron-james-and-the-vogue-cover-more-king-kong-than-king-james/

I think that will convince you there's something wrong with the cover.

If not, then also consider this post - http://www.stereohyped.com/report-shows-subconscious-like-between-blacks-and-apes-20080305/

heartsandflowers said...

I also have to add as there has been much commentary on Giselle's pale skin - she is Brazilian of German and Hispanic descent. There's a little color in her gene pool.

Bygbaby said...

Field, I love you but you trippin' boo if you do not see this overt message.

Girl Next Door said...

Christopher Chambers said...
No, it is offensive. As I've said time again, Lebron has attained MJ's mantle of self-promoting dickhead...an utter waste to us as a people on a more fundamental level than balling and cash money (and look what the false pursuit of those golden cows have done to our communities).
He is King Kong. To younger white folks, i think it wouild be more threatening to have Obama or ken Chenault of Amex on the cover. It is all about selling to Peoria, to whites. lebron knows that. So did MJ. F- em both!!!

Girl Next Door says...

I'm truly glad you spoke up about this because for a while it seemed like the only people concerned about how this cover looked were Black Women. If the brothers can't stand up and speak to how they are being portrayed (TO THE WORLD no less)then what is the use?

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

I think I've got it! This ad is patterned after "King Kong", the scene in which he stands at the top of the Empire State Building with the frightened blond woman in his hand while he menaces all of New York.

This ad is an attempt to show Black men as animalistic threats to white female chastity. That's why the Black man has to be screaming (like King Kong) in this photo. We all know that intuitively, but you have to refer to the King Kong scene to really palpably explain how this is so.

King Kong dies at the end of the movie, right?

I guess it took Barack Obama's campaign to get the first Black man, a basketball player, onto the front page of Vogue. Who knows what other dividends Barack's campaign may provide?

Wine Dog said...

After reading the comments, and actually seeing the magazine yesterday, I have to say that maybe I was a little flip in the beginning. It's true, LeBron James is a very snappy dresser and cuts a nice swath in a suit. I think Leibovitz was trying to be playful as the other pictures in the set are similar. They're all also a little weird. There's a skateboarder and a model, a discus thrower and a model and some others I don't remember. The discus thrower is a big mushy white dude with the model either over his shoulder or held up in the air. (can't remember exactly) The point is, if LeBron James was shown doing that it would be equally controversial, so I think in Ms. Liebovitz's portrayal, they're all a little animalistic. Probably why LeBron James has no problem with the shot himself. The interior shot has him sitting in a chair and her on his knee and it's a much better photograph in my mind. I do wish they'd put him in a suit at some point, they missed the essence of the man...but you have to remember Leibovitz also asked the Queen to take her crown off for a shot.

Claude said...

Here's a slightly different, maybe somewhat twisted take:

http://blackfivesblog.com/?p=367

Admiral Komack said...

My take : If the article is about fitness, then why is the woman in a nice dress and nice shoes?

Put her in a fitness outfit or a swimsuit, since Le Bron is in a fitness outfit.

But NOOOOO, she's in a nice dress and nice shoes.

But Le Bron ain't stylin'?

"Game face", my ass!

Vogue is full of shit.

Anonymous said...

Love you Field.
However, I don't agree with your position.
Vogue never just "happens" to do anything.
One only has to remember Jennifer Hudson on the cover looking like she was about to catch a fly in her wide open mouth.

Check this out for clarity:

http://www.jossip.com/somebody-should-tell-lebron-james-he-was-made-to-look-like-an-ape-on-vogue-20080328/

ingridspeak said...

And yet another hearty Amen from the fields. There are more important things to be worried about, and I wish Essence would put some white man on the cover! They betta not.

awb said...

I'm with whoever said "Stay Vigilante" as I believe that these "accidental" racists might actually know what they are doing. Check this link out from Sports on My Mind:

http://dwil.wordpress.com/2008/03/28/lebron-james-beyond-kong/

CHIC NOIR said...

1.) There is a men's vogue, and there have been four black men on the cover in the past year.

2.) In the 80's, there were plenty of black models on the cover of American Vogue. Its when Anna Wintour took over(from Diana Vreeland who brought on Andre Leon Tally) that everything changed. She is starting to lighten up, in the past three years there have been four blacks on the cover of women's Vogue.

3.) Annie Lebowitz (sp) is a horrible photographer. Just look at what she did to Nicole Kidman and Drew Barrymore on their recent covers.

4. When I saw the photo for the first time, King Kong jumped into my head immediately

GoldenAh said...

That open mouth with bared teeth is very ape-like. He's barely visible: at first glance all I see is dark face, dark clothing, tatoos, and bared teeth.

The white woman looks like all fashion women do: pale, thin and very tall. She reminds me of a horse. A pretty horse - like a unicorn. The green dress is horrid, but it draws your eyes to her.

So there we have it: an ape and a horse. That's progress. I think.

Essence should put a white man on the cover. Why not? Black male magazines put white women on the cover and call them latinas.

Seattle Slim said...

I'm not offended by it in the least. Look athletes aren't generally popular because of their sophistication or dainty sensibilities. They are known and are popular for being beasts on the court. Does anyone remember the commercial with the baseball players wearing masks like gladiators, howling, and jumping back and forth as if caged? They got black, white and hispanic athletes in that commercial. I think it was a Nike or Gatorade ad.

The issue was to hype up the most popular b-ball player and top model. Right now, Gisele is it. Right now Lebron is it. Could a suit have been used with him with the basketball? Oh for sure. That would've been the sophisticated cover. Hell I would've put them at the head of a table together. At the same time, it's a pretty basic picture. He's a beast on the court and she's one of the prettiest, most sophisticated models out there.

I will give Gisele her due. The broad probably has black in her anyway! She IS Brazilian you know...

Nadia said...

I personally do not see what is wrong with the cover. He was modeling his sportswear, his line of sportswear. And it was supposed to be sports athletic versus model athletic. I am more sad that people are taking this so seriously. Do you really think it was their intent "I think I'm going to make this black man look like a fool"? And of course Giselle would be on the cover as she is one of the most popular models in the world. Both are good at what they do. That is what I personally saw looking at the cover. Two popular people posing on a cover. King Kong didn't even cross my mind... and I've seen the movie.

Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

Perceptions of racism, like beauty, often depend on the eye of the beholder. But if you want to really dig down to the truth of the matter, determining whether something is racist will often depend on knowing the perpetrator's intent, and that can't always be known for sure and instead can only be suspected, which isn't enough for imposing a sentence.

On the level of what I believe the main intent behind this image was, this is a successful photo, though I personally wouldn't cut it out and keep it, or even look at it a third time. It's successful with regard to intent because, like all magazine cover photos, it was designed, above all, to catch the eye from the newsstands, and it definitely does that, big time. My suspicion, however, is that its creators were not dummies, and they noticed quite easily that the picture also carried a definite suggestion of not one but a couple of ancient racial sterotypes. After some debate, they decided that that element added to the force of the image, and they thought they would take their chances by going with it, in the name of artistic and commercial "integrity." They figured they had plenty of precedent.

All the same, in another respect, the picture doesn't succeed, because it is too obviously posed, and its sexual dynamic is weak. If King Kong had held Fay Wray that loosely, she would soon have ended up being just a grease spot on a Manhattan street. There's a definite distance between the man and the woman. They clearly don't know each other and they're not planning dinner together after the shoot or anything else of an intimate nature.. And the man's attention is much more on the basketball, which appears to be escaping from him, than it is on the woman. So in that way the photo avoids gving offense in several directions, though not all.

La ~ msviswan said...

Field, I came late. I can't read all your hundred comments, so let me just interject mine. Warning!

This is why you Mr. Black man should be offended. It's modern Jim Crow provocation. Big scary rapist negroid animal finally got his hands around the sacred pure white damsel. The only woman valued, and the only thing the shiftless raping negroid animal seems to find of valuable as well. Ask Jim Crow.

She also looks like she's grinning and squirming to get away. As a black female I also found this offensive, and you should to. Y'all think it's cute. But you put yourselves three steps back. Give them an inch... You think this notion ever went away after Jim Crow? When things get out of hand eventually, y'all better don't come to me with any damn T-shirts to march with.

Abony Holmes said...

I'm late to the game but will explain my offense anyway:

Black man, basketball in one hand, white woman in the other. White woman is running away, black man is in aggressive stance, mouth open and screaming.

Not only is this offensive rationally, but the implication that Giselle (grossly underweight) is the epitome of the feminine body and Lebron (incredibly tall and muscular) is the epitome of the male body by putting them on the cover of their "shape" issue leaves me wanting.

Orville said...

I disagree with the Field Negro on this one. The cover shot is extremely offensive and racist. It depicts all the negative stereotypes about young black men. It suggests young black men like Lebron James are just physically aggressive, sexual prowess. Giselle appears frightened in the photo also. Also this is Vogue so why isn't Lebron in a suit and tie? Why is Lebron dressed in his sports clothes? I bet if Tom Brady was on the cover of Vogue he would be looking more like an adult on the cover.

chula said...

The photographer and the magazine know what they are doing. Don't ignore the racism. We all know the history of this country and that magazine cover is no innocent accident. Just like that noose wasn't an accident on that golf magazine or darkening OJ on Time (?) or any other number of times black folks (men especially) are portrayed as less than human.

It's a white world here in America. Maybe if there were more field negroes in positions of power in these coporate offices there might be some differing opinions and we wouldn't see such stupid magazine covers.

The more things change the more things try to stay fucked up.

xox

Brandy B. Wine said...

I'm a Black Woman who has no problem with this cover at all. I was excited to get this issue.

I don't see the racism at all.

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