Same As It Ever Was: Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue

guest post: Vivian Obarski

Every year around this time, I always end up buying the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue. I used to subscribe to the magazine, but over time, I dropped it. Probably because I felt like instead of offering interesting nonfiction pieces, I felt more and more out of touch with what they were selling — that is a luxury lifestyle with a self-congratulatory liberal touch that always kind of irks me.

But I still buy the Hollywood issue. I can’t help it. I think it’s the photographs and mentions of actors, directors and producers that I find compelling. Not to mention, there’s interesting scholarly pieces on the history of film and how it resonates up to today (I may need to watch Diner now, after S.L. Price’s article — it was that persuasive on the film’s impact).

Maybe it’s that I’m older, but I couldn’t help but notice how white this year’s cover is. Granted, it’s always been white and young — an emphasis on PYTs and ingenues, with one token minority for inclusiveness — but instead of admiring the composition or the fashion, this year I found myself going “Really?”

I think it’s because this is the year where movies like The Help (rightly or wrongly) resonated with people and garnered an Oscar nod for Viola Davis. Or what about Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy and her insanely fun turn in Bridesmaids? This was the year women supposedly broke out in comedy, showing that girls can do gross humor too, but there’s nary a mention of Kiristin Wiig or Maya Rudolph.

I don’t buy the idea that the cover’s just for pretty young things and the current “it” girl sensation. Back in 2001, the cover featured women such as Catherine Deneuve, Meryl Streep and the eternal sex goddess Sophia Loren — women who passed their 20s awhile ago.

So why no Viola Davis? Why no Melissa McCarthy? Why no Octavia Spencer?

I find this kind of sexist because when you look at their past covers featuring men, the age gamut is definitely older featuring the likes of Jack Nicholson (who is definitely not a pretty young thing) and Robert Duvall to Andrew Garfield.

I shouldn’t be surprised, I know this, but I can’t help but be disappointed. Vanity Fair literally is that white liberal friend we all have — that one who asks their minority friends “As a (insert race here), how do you feel about (issue)?” It’s incredibly tone deaf in its attempt to be inclusive, thinking that one picture of people of color in the back half of its issue is good enough, when we all know the damn truth.

Maybe I’m not the one out of touch with reality. Maybe Vanity Fair is.

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