I See Sex, Not Racism

The cover may be fraught with subtexts, but it is what it is
By Clay Dillow,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2008 10:40 AM CDT
A version of the promotional poster for the 1933 film classic King Kong.   (Archive Photos)
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(Newser) – Last week's Vogue cover had "a lot of people, smart and dumb, losing their minds," writes Wesley Morris in Slate. Sure, Annie Leibovitz's shot may pander to the "ugliest racist tropes: black male as ape," with LeBron James as King Kong and Gisele Bundchen as the silky-gowned Fay Wray. (She even has her very own "dashing white adventurer," boyfriend Tom Brady.) But that subtext is a stretch.

The image is hot, plain and simple, and its sexiness "is more a matter of celebrity than race." Bundchen doesn't look scared, James doesn't look like a sinister ape. The controversy is overblown, and between the Jeremiah Wright hullabaloo and Bill Clinton's "mutation into Karl Rove," Morris isn't up for fighting editor Anna Wintour. "Racial hysteria is the old black. Maybe it's so old it's avant garde—very Vogue."