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The Latest 'Vogue' Cover: What Do You See?

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We got in on the conversation about the current cover of Vogue today.

Some people say it's a strikingly composed photo of hard bodied beauties LeBron James and Giselle Bunchen, others a new take on King Kong and Fay Wray.

What do you think — does the image fortify racial sterotypes?



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I think if Bunchen were doing something differently. Maybe standing in a different way... it's that right leg that's bothering me. The photo would be more symmetrical if her left leg were in front of the right. The way it is, it looks like she's about to tip over. I don't see a problem with James doing what he's doing; it's just an awkward photo as a whole.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 10:59 AM | 3-26-2008

I don't get why people equate this image with King Kong. I think that if you see Lebron James and immediately think "giant gorilla", that says more about you than the photo of Lebron James.

Sidebar: someone should contact Nike about getting Lebron James to do a King-Kong themed ad for sneakers.

Sent by Greg | 11:59 AM | 3-26-2008

First of all, I didn't know that Giselle Bunchen was that tall. I thought it was Photoshop, but I then saw that LeBron James was squatting.

Secondly, could we all just get over the fact that Blacks and Whites can appear in the same picture together without the world coming to an end? As one-half of an inter-racial couple (I'm Irish-American; my wife is Kenyan), the thought of "racial stereotypes" must be a product of your own imagination. It says so much more about you that you saw a racial stereotype in this picture than it says about what the photographer and magazine was trying to say. Please, it's been over 140 years since the Emancipation Proclamation. Get off the plantation!

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 12:00 PM | 3-26-2008

I'm concerned with the fact that the "Best Bodies" are that of male athletes and female models. Where are the female athletes??? We have far too many notable female athletes of a multitude of races to begrudge them recognition.

Sent by Cris | 1:02 PM | 3-26-2008

Actually, what bothers me is why Gisele is considered to have one of "the best bodies." Do women really want to be that skinny?

Sent by janie | 1:02 PM | 3-26-2008

I so agree with the last poster. LeBron agreed to take this photo, no? Who knows exactly what the message is supposed to be. I'm sure it is something close to a King Kong influence, but I'm not at all sure this is a racist slight. These are two top level athletes having fun. Not everything is about some racial sub-context. I wish we could hear NPR do some real reporting or real thinking beyond whatever it is their hosts on reading for glamour tips.

Sent by Claire Young | 1:07 PM | 3-26-2008

You guys realize that Vogue is the organizer of this photoshoot, correct? Of course they're going to recognize a model as having the best body: if they don't, then that invalidates their whole industry.

Sent by Greg | 1:35 PM | 3-26-2008

Robert Pirsig, author of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" says something in that book which, I think, is pertinent here (and in a variety of other contentious discussions):

"You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt."

Sent by Phillip | 6:49 PM | 3-26-2008

So silly of me to think Vogue (a fashion magazine) which purports to dress for sizes 0 to 16 might consider a body type other than tall and thin! So silly of me to suggest female athletes might have superior bodies...and that they might actually be attractive! Thanks for enlightening me, Greg.

Sent by Cris | 7:53 PM | 3-26-2008

What wrong with the BPP blog? Posting about spelling errors, star wars grills, and now a cover of vogue?

but the topics you discus in the show.... its real news! can you please carryover the substance from your show over to the blog, so we can have real conversations on real issues?

let's talk about garbage in our seas.

Besides, LeBron James is clearly not trying to depict himself as Kong. Any intellectual will tell you, he was aiming to depict:

Sent by Brian | 9:56 PM | 3-26-2008

Now that people are suggesting a resemblance to King Kong, I'm totally bored with this photo. I want King Kong clutching Giselle... how great would that be on Vogue? Especially if Vogue tells men to aspire to Kong's image. Ooh and then we'd see hairy men climbing buildings! Think of the hilarity... are you writing this down, Vogue?

Sent by Francis | 1:04 AM | 3-27-2008

I think it is a very odd picture for vogue. Why didn't they put him in a suit or something vogue-like?

If you find it King Kongy then you've made the leap yourself. If they really wanted to make it King Kongy they would have hit you over the head with it: e.g. him climbing a building.

Yes, the theme of the picture seems to be 'opposites'. White/black, man/woman, muscular/thin, agressive/fluid. What's wrong with that?

Sent by Nathan in Holland | 6:51 AM | 3-27-2008

I think we all find what we're looking for. If we look for racial stereotypes, we'll find them everywhere.

Sent by Lisa Woody | 11:08 AM | 3-27-2008

Dear Brian,

Topics discussed in the show? Is this your first time here?

Mind you, those topics are here, and they're useful and insightful. However, what I like about the BPP is that it's not so pretentious as to insist that we won't discuss some issue because (ahem) this is news show.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 3:52 PM | 3-27-2008

Dear Matthew,

Surely there is room on the NPR server to do many things on the blog:
-- insight into BPPeople (what I made for dinner)
-- video
-- extras
-- links
-- etc...
But in the etc, why not have a post for each story if listeners want to comment? I came on because I was annoyed by the story on the tomato farm and wanted to say so.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 5:44 AM | 3-28-2008

And as to this post... c'mon! I can't believe the posters who don't see the King Kong reference here. It goes far beyond "black man and white woman together". If you don't see it, it doesn't mean it's not there, it simply means that Vogue missed its target with you. The trope of black man = gorilla = animal = violence = danger to pure white virgin is established enough in history, with deadly consequences in many cases, for us not to treat this as just a coincidence, and just an editorial choice. It's vile stuff.

Sent by Marc Naimark | 5:48 AM | 3-28-2008

Marc, I think the real question is if you can say with certainty that you would have made the "King Kong" connection without the help of sensationalistic media. You can say that the link is obvious, but that's a simple case of social contagion.

Sent by Greg | 9:34 AM | 3-28-2008

I think this cover shows the delicacy of the women and the strength of the men. I do think that the way giselle is standing makes it look a little awkward, but it also seems that they were just trying to go show the contrast between the petite and innocent to the masculine and tough. I don't think that this should be a black and white issue at all. I don't care who you are Lebron James is sexy and I'm sure the men think the same of gisselle. So I'm sure the normal people out there buying the magazene aren't thinking about race:) I think that that is something that those people that think they are better then everybody and just want to MAKE something controversial becuase they are bored and want something to do.

Sent by Jessy Martin | 10:13 AM | 3-28-2008

It is a nice picture. It would not have been a big deal if two things had been different; 1) the model had been black (or any other women of color for that matter), or 2) Labran had not held her at the waste. I am a 23 year old black women, get over it folks! There are more important real racial issues to be concerned about.

Sent by ashley | 12:28 PM | 3-28-2008

Not sure what I think of the cover, but I did stumble upon this post on another media site....

Sent by Alison Stewart-NPR | 7:33 AM | 3-29-2008

There are any number of elements that make it look like King Kong, but the killer for me is the woman's pose. She is in a position that makes it look like he is carrying her, like KK carrying FW up the Empire State Building (or WTC, depending on your generation).

Sent by Marc Naimark | 12:57 PM | 3-29-2008

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