Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What's Wrong With This Picture?!??!

I'm just now warming up to this whole LeBron James phenomenon. Forgive me for being about 5 years late to the party, but watching Bron Bron render your playoff tickets worthless each May tends to have that effect. Still, over time, I've come to accept and appreciate the young fella for being the embodiment of all that's good about sports. He plays hard. He respects the game. He keeps his nose clean. He speaks semi-decent English. No baby moms drama. I'm just sayin', home team hatred aside, what's not to like?

So, watching dude expand his media empire into awards galas and over-the-hill late night sketch comedy shows has been interesting to say the least. His ESPY gig was inspiring. SNL? Uhhh, not so much, but that's hardly King James' fault. When I heard that he would be the coverboy for an upcoming issue of Vogue, I didn't think too much of this since, well, let's face it, Vogue ain't exactly on AB's must-read list. But then I heard (via the fine folks at Racialicious) that this was somewhat significant since black men, or men at all (or blacks at all) for that matter seldom have such a privilege. So, I guess I was a little intrigued.

Then I saw the cover...


Look at the photo above, then look at this sh*t.

Intentional or mere coincidence?

I'm just sayin'. This is a fashion magazine, right (I don't know, I'm just assuming here)? So why is dude on the cover mean muggin' with a waifish white(ish) chick on his hip? And why the hell is he dressed in all black? And what's up with the ball? Is that posed' to be some sorta phallic symbol or something?

Ok, clearly I could be reaching here, but how many other covers of any magazine have you seen with such ludicrous covers? Why couldn't they suit him up GQ style? He's recognizable enough as a non-sports entity by now, so why the ball? And the athletic gear? And the crouching? And the noticeably uncomfortable woman? And the grimace? Sheez!

Here's a classy image. Why didn't they just use this same concept? Really.

I'm just sayin', that picture just doesn't look right. What do ya'll think?

Question: Do ya'll think the Vogue cover is a little out of bounds or is AB cynical after a week of this Rebb'n Wright jibberjabber?

Vogue calls on LeBron [Sports Illustrated]

16 AverageComments™:

Chester said...

AB is a little cynical.

I know nothing of sports. You had to tell me that was LaBron James on the cover, although by name, I knew he was a basketball player.

He looks good. He looks strong - look at those muscles on his arms. And no, she does not look uncomfortable - she's a model. Pay no attention to her expression - it's whatever the photog told her to do.

It's a good shot, of a handsome, professional, on-top-of-his-game athlete with who knows what else goin' on.

spool32 said...

Not to mention that the point of the shot is to accentuate different sizes... you can tell from the teaser on the cover.

I gotta agree with chester. Breathe, man. :)

Lolo said...

Any fashion model is gonna look like a twig thin freak next to LeBron. Come on, he's HUGE and you know, watching the game tonight I was giggling at the size diff between him and Billups and Prince while groaning. (Pistons!)

OTOH? Do you ever really look at Vogue covers normally? Because that is a big old box of rocks in and of itself. I love fashion. I hate most fashion mags and the industry standards for "beauty" even now.

writeonbro said...

Look Chester and You too spool, you're missing the point. LaBron is just as big in a Brooks Brothers as he is in shorts.

It's a lot more going on here than meets the eye. Why aren't they both in athletic gear. I'm sure she works out.

Vibe dressed up Fifty cent, on the cover with De Niro. LaBron needs to talk to his agent about this photo shoot.

ebonygentleman said...

Tom Brady would be dressed in a sports coat. It's his girl anyway. I'm just sayin.


spool32 said...

Suit and tie is playing against type for a basketball player. If they did that, it'd be to create juxtaposition between the man's profession and his clothing, which would take the photo in a different direction.

This photo has a different goal - to juxtapose size and style while placing the two subjects within their own elements and letting them balance each other.

Hell, we don't know the context either - that was one of probably a thousand or more photos taken, likely in all sorts of clothes and poses. Maybe it was the two of them screwing around and turned out to be the most "authentic" shot... who knows. It's really hard to say without some context.

Penni Brown said...

I agree with AB. This is ridiculous. The only juxtaposition they are focusing on is this big black savage man with this beautiful dainty woman. The same juxtaposition mags like this use when bringing high fashion to the jungle with the result being a beautiful brown woman with paint on her face and a hermes bag in her hand.

Lolo said...

I've given this more thought (thanks for THAT) and went and googled up some men's vogue covers and then gone back through some Vogue covers (did I mention I don't like Vogue?). Second consideration leaves me thinking that this was definitely lazy, cheap art direction, at the least. Given that he is only the third man on the cover of this FASHION magazine, why wouldn't they dress him in fashion? However, I consider the source.

Look, you can not find a more inherently messed up profession as far as mainstream media. Just the whole process of cover graphics, in and of itself, is all about how it stands out on the rack display and the subliminal appeal to the casual browser. It's been a few years but the standard industry wisdom used to be that rack sales of certain publications drop when featuring a black model. Numbers, cash, bottom line. I'm sure that Andre Leon Talley knows the numbers better than any of us since he is an editor at Vogue.

I would have enjoyed (not) being in on that meeting when it came to discussing the art direction for this cover though, to hear how they arrived at the decision to shoot him wearing his work clothes, so to speak, instead of wearing something stylish, ala Gere or Clooney's covers.

What bemuses me, when I bother to consider it, is that the seats at the runways shows are more ethnically diverse than the models on the walks or the covers of the magazines. People, of all ethnicities, buy it and buy into it and perpetuate it and it's sooo messed up in it's portrayal of beauty and style.

hawa said...

When I first saw the larger version of the picture, I thought "King Kong."

And yes, my mind wandered to the idea of a big black monster endangering a delicate prized white woman.

And even if the art direction was lazy, some half-witted person should have caught the similarity somewhere in the process.

Whether subconscious or on purpose... well... I'm sure Bron Bron couldn't detect a single problem with the shoot after the check arrived.

Carmen D. said...

This turns my stomach. Shame on Mr. James.

AverageBro said...

ok, so maybe it wasn't just me.

ebw-educated black woman said...

@writeonbro said:
Vibe dressed up Fifty cent, on the cover with De Niro. LaBron needs to talk to his agent about this photo shoot.
I concur. He should have refused to take the picture. AB, it's not just you. I'm willing to bet the majority of folks that are other than black, will see a sort of "beauty & the beast" contrast in the photo. Why must the brother always be portrayed as the beast?

the fire next time said...

Speaking of subliminal racist messages. This one has to be the most grotesque.

I wouldn't have liked this cover, whether you juxtaposed King Kong or not.

The reference is pretty obvious here.

It's interesting that some here are dismissing it by telling you that you're "a little cynical," to "I gotta agree with chester. Breathe, man."

Would they be offended if one of their own sport legends was mocked in this obvious, tactless manner?

I'm becoming more and more convinced that whites don't have a clue as to how crap like this offends.

And if LeBron James knew that he was being stereotyped in this manner, and did it anyway, then money has come to mean more to him than black sensibilities.

And if anyone here, white, or non-white, thinks that this magazine cover is OK, then race relations in this country will continue to be an issue, not just for the remainder of this century, but the millennium as well.

Deb said...

Your not the only one cynical it seems:

Out of bounds? Seems nothing is out of bounds these days.

A "typical" white woman's (Anna Wintour)thoughts? Hm-m-m-m

Patrick said...

Shouldn't the more obvious question be: "Why is there a man on the cover of Vogue?"

Anonymous said...

hello everyone, this is a white european guy who feels compelled to comment here. wake up everyone! it's vogue here, they know EXACTLY what they're doing. the similarity with king kong is absolutely intentional and so blatant that i can't understand how any of you here think AB is overreacting. the image is absolutely appalling and implies prejudices which i thought (and hoped) belonged to the distant past.
that a highly successful and popular (and coincidentally black) sportsman is to be depicted as a grimacing ape which has the power to capture a delicate white beauty is absolutely grotesque! shame on you vogue for attempting to create strong publicity for your magazine at the cost of race relations!

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