From ABC News’ Sheila Makar :
They’re two of the most beautiful people on earth. But some say the Vogue photograph, shot by Annie Leibovitz, isn’t attractive at all because of the racial stereotype it purportedly evokes — black beast clutching a white damsel in distress, reflected in French sculptor Emmanuel Fremiet‘s 1887 statue “Gorilla Carrying Off a Woman,” and later, in the many incarnations of “King Kong.”
“Here you have an image of a black male athlete in an exceptionally aggressive stance, wide footed, bending over, clutching her with his arm,” said Jason Rosenfeld, professor of art history at Marymount Manhattan College. “It’s one thing to have an athlete in that kind of pose and with that kind of expression on a court after he or she has done something miraculous. It’s another thing to couple it with someone who is of an entirely different ilk and gender. That turns it into a racially charged image.”
Why the scrutiny? LeBron is the first black man, and only the third man in Vogue’s 115-year history, to grace the high fashion mag’s cover.
“When you’re for the first time putting a black man on the cover, and this is the way you’re depicting him, it means that you’re going nowhere,” Rosenfeld said. “Pose LeBron in the pose of a Greek God and pose her as a Venus — then you’re upping the conversation.”
Though I wasn’t personally offended by Leibowitz’ photograph — Ms. Bundchen doesn’t appear to be in much distress — I do take Professor Rosenfeld’s general point to heart. Had Vogue chosen to depict King James clutching Damon Jones atop the Empire State Building, a huge blown might’ve been struck for togetherness and understanding.