Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue 2011

By now I’m sure you’ve seen it – the annual Hollywood Issue, this year featuring Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and the ubiquitous James Franco on the cover, with Jennifer Lawrence, Anthony Mackie, Olivia Wilde, Jesse Eisenberg, Mila Kunis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Andrew Garfield, Rashida Jones, Garrett Hedlund, and Noomi Rapace on the inside flap…as Robert Duvall supervises from the back.

The magazine says that this year’s “formula” was “the most exciting actors and actresses of the moment. Period.”

That obviously doesn’t explain Olivia Wilde. Or, frankly, Garrett Hedlund. You’re telling me Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling aren’t more exciting than Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund? We could go on. We could go on a long, long time with a long, long list of other names. But they also made this happen in December, and I guess even I thought that Hedlund would be a lot more “exciting” back in December.

YES to Mackie. A huge hard YES. And Rapace too. But I hate that they used the shot of her almost clawing herself into the group, like someone’s about to drag her away by her feet any second now. As for the big four who made the cover – um, I’m not really sure Jakey deserves to be there. Franco is annoying as f-ck but Franco is undeniably doing more that’s interesting and challenging than Jakey. Same goes for Reynolds whose box office is solid and has established himself as versatile in independent film as he is in romantic comedy and super hero big budget. Jakey meanwhile keeps losing street cred every single day.

In addition to the players on the front of the magazine, the inside pages also feature a series of portraits that include:

Natalie Portman
Christian Bale
Ben Affleck
Halle Berry
Colin Firth
David Fincher/Aaron Sorkin/Jesse Eisenberg
Tom Hooper/Debra Granik/Lisa Chodolenko/Danny Boyle
The cast of Ordinary People
Helena Bonham Carter
Hailee Steinfeld/Elle Fanning

So, yeah, as so many others have noted, mostly white people. But for Mackie, Berry, and half of Rashida Jones. Which, I suppose, is better than last year when only white people were invited to the cover party.

But while it’s easy to blame Hollywood and the media, is it really Hollywood that’s driving the issue? Or is Hollywood simply a reflection of the issue? It’s easy, and it’s comforting to blame THEM. What’s uncomfortable is asking ourselves, as consumers, what role we play in the lack of diversity in pop culture.

Recently it was reported that Willow Smith will star in the Annie remake. This news elicited quite the reaction. I included the story one day in Smutty Tingles noting that I was supportive of this move. Many of you disagreed. But it’s hard for children of different ethnicities to find their places artistically when no one will let them imagine themselves in certain narratives, especially the period pieces. In my day Emily Wong would never play Juliet in Romeo & Juliet. Tasha Ali didn’t have much hope either. If Willow Smith’s re-imagining of Annie means that art might be more inclusive, I have to say I’m down with that.

Bringing it back to Vanity Fair and the Smith Family, why wasn’t Jaden Smith (at least in the list that was provided by the magazine) included among the portraits? The Karate Kid was a big movie. He was a big deal. The movie was actually well received. With a budget of just $40 million, it went on to gross over $350 worldwide, starring a Chinese dude and a black kid. I don’t know. That seems like an accomplishment to me. So why no love? Both from the magazine and from us?

Is it the Smith children that are the problem? Like it or not, and I’ve already written about it, the establishment has already accepted it. The same way they accepted Abigail Breslin, Hailee Steinfeld, and Elle Fanning, and as mentioned, the latter two were photographed for this Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue and, well, no one will complain about that the way they would if Jaden and/or Willow were included.

So…

We can totally spend half our time slagging the magazine, and the industry, but I wonder if that’s only half the conversation.

Anyway, on a lighter note, the LA Times, in writing about the Vanity Fair Hollywood issue, just misidentified Jennifer Lawrence as Dianna Agron. And here’s a behind-the-scenes video below from the shoot. Click here for more on how the cover came together and photos from the set.

 

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