I don’t know why people are so surprised that Vanity Fair‘s “New Hollywood” cover and feature story is composed solely of thin, fair-skinned women who are dressed and made-up to look as waifish and generic as possible. Forget the publication’s name referencing Thackeray’s novel, I think “Vanity” and “Fair” kinda says it all.
Yes, these women are talented and beautiful. I’m not dismissing their right to be lauded. But for Vanity Fair to line them all up like a collection of paper dolls, clad in pale colors and looking dewy and virginal, and then dub them Hollywood’s future is seriously creepy and out-of-touch. Annie Leibovitz managed to strip these women of any kind of personality or individuality. It’s like they wanted an idealized picture, a pastoral scene without vibrancy or passion…and without accuracy.
Other people have already rattled off these names, but they bear repeating: Gabourey Sidibe, Freida Pinto, Zoe Saldana. And what about the guys? Where are Dev Patel and Anthony Mackie? Sure, this issue was put to bed before Sidibe scored her Oscar nomination, but she’s been an integral part of this entire awards season. How do you not acknowledge her as a part of 2010’s influential crop of young Hollywood stars? Were they so desperate to keep to the Stepford Wife motif, the bland color palette, that they had to dub Evan Rachel Wood a new phenomenon? She’s been pretty high profile in the industry for seven years and was a pretty busy child actress on TV before that. And Emma Stone and Rebecca Hall are…who, exactly? Again, not to diminish their body of work and the films they are making, but it really just smacks of, “We need some more white actresses to round out this spread. Quick, hit IMDB!” And speaking of IMDB, popping over there reveals that many of these actresses don’t have much of anything coming out this year! Contrast that with Saldana, who is still riding high on the success of Avatar and has Takers, The Losers, and Death at a Funeral all coming out soon.
Yes, I’ve heard that old chestnut about people of color not selling well on a magazine cover, but a movie about bright blue cat-like aliens just became the biggest grossing movie of all time. It’s time to retire the bullshit rhetoric. And white people don’t necessarily sell a cover either, okay? Especially if half of them are people readers have never heard of. I challenge you to take five people at the news stand and ask them to identify Abbie Cornish and Mia Wasikowska without help. They probably couldn’t pick them out of a line-up! And picking them out of the generic, unimaginative Vanity Fair photo spread is even more of a challenge.