LeBron James and Gisele Bundchen recently did a photo shoot together for the cover of an issue of this April’s Vogue magazine. Vogue has proudly proclaimed that it is the first time a black man has appeared on the cover, but the racist rants about the model and the athlete’s poses in the photo are detracting from this milestone event.
The beef that critics have with the photo is that they believe LeBron, who is posed with his mouth wide open in a defensive stance with his arm around a smiling Gisele, could be considered to be King Kong-like, with Gisele portraying Fay Wray’s terrified character. It’s bringing up the issue of racial stereotypes: the big, scary black man terrorizing the frail, innocent white woman.
When I first saw the photo, I didn’t think it evoked the feeling of King Kong at all. I got this vibe: athlete and model. To me, LeBron looks like an athlete who’s pumped up and ready to play basketball, and Gisele looks like any smiling model on the cover of a magazine. She in no way looks like a damsel in distress. The issue is all about athletes and models, so this cover makes perfect sense. If a thin and frail black model had been on the cover with LeBron, no one would have ever made this comparison. I guess you just can’t do racially-mixed photo shoots for magazine covers without some kind of negative reaction, which shows how racist we are in America. It seems as if everyone just wants to complain about every little thing, even when there really is nothing there.
LeBron is a sports figure, and there’s nothing wrong with portraying someone who is such a great athlete as being strong and tough. Isn’t that what all athletes want to be? And Gisele is just very thin, so of course she’s going to look extremely delicate next to someone so athletic. But she’s smiling and has her arm around LeBron! She in no way looks like the terrified, screaming victim of King Kong. It appears that the cover is about portraying strength and beauty and male and female, not black and white.
This controversy just shows how terrible America’s sensitivity to race has become. Critics of this photo are simply looking at LeBron as a black man and Gisele as a white woman, when LeBron is a very accomplished athlete and Gisele is a very accomplished model. They are simply portraying themselves in their respective professions. When America starts seeing people this way, for their accomplishments and what they do, perhaps mixing black and white will quit being such a big deal.
Sources: Associated Press