Too Close (to Racism) for Comfort?

LeBron James Vogue

The other day, I ran across an image of basketball player LeBron James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen on the cover of Vogue… except in various articles (including a Huffington Post article linked below), their picture was placed side-by-side with a vintage advertisement of the film King Kong. It was striking and disappointing to see how similar James looked to King Kong, and how much Bundchen mirrored the damsel-in-distress in the film advertisement.

This cover photo seems to perpetuate the narrow perception of black masculinity which, according to Hill Collins in her piece “Booty Call: Sex, Violence and Images of Black Masculinity,” consists of, “…aggression and claiming the prizes of urban warfare… Being tough and having street smarts is an important component of Black masculinity. When joined to understandings of booty as sexuality, especially raw, uncivilized sexuality, women’s sexuality becomes the actual spoils of war” (151).

Is this just a harmless cover with James showing his “game face”, or is there a more racist undertone (Huffington Post, 2008)?

Works Cited:
Hill-Collins, Patricia. Black Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender and the New Racism. New York: Routledge, 2005.

Zaleski, Katharine. “LeBron James Vogue Cover Criticized For “Perpetuating Racial Stereotypes”.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 2008. Web. 31 Oct. 2013. .

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