Beige is the New Grey
Dakota Johnson covers the new issue of VOGUE in anticipation of Fifty Shades Of Grey’s February release. It will be one of many interviews and photos we see of her, but this is certainly a showpiece of her promotional push. I mean, it’s VOGUE, right?
Before we get into the interview, let’s talk about Dakota Johnson getting a VOGUE cover to promote a film that no one has seen, based on a terrible book that almost everyone has read. That’s the starting point – an unknown on the brink of superstardom. How often do we see VOGUE take this kind of leap on a new face? Sure it helps that she’s the “right” kind of face (pretty and pedigreed), because she’s certainly not a fashion powerhouse. In that sense, she isn’t alone: Blake Lively and Jessica Biel? More buzz than IMDb credits, by far. For someone who is reputedly hard to impress, why is Anna Wintour so formulaic when anointing her pick for Next Big Thing? Seemingly, all you need is a Jen Meyer necklace, a few fashion week invites and a connection to other famous people (preferably via parents or a significant other).
This cover brought me back to Lainey’s piece on what it takes for a black woman to cover VOGUE (read a refresher here), so I guess I started the piece in an annoyed state – and stayed there.
There’s a focus on her family (mom Melanie Griffith, dad Don Johnson, stepdad Antonio Banderas, grandmother Tippi Hedren, famous friends like Reese Witherspoon, Kate Moss and Stella McCartney – they were introduced by a mutual NYC driver), the requisite comparison to an Old Hollywood starlet (Vivien Leigh) and musings on LA – I live there but I just want to raise chickens on a ranch! There’s also quite a bit of talk from Sam Taylor-Johnson (why didn’t they put HER on the cover?), and about the chemistry between Dakota and Jamie Dornan. Really? At the Golden Globes, they presented like two people waiting in a dentist’s office.
Dakota also talks about how no one has ever gone through what she’s about to experience (hi, Kristen Stewart and Jennifer Lawrence). I get it, she’s supposed to transition from unknown to mega-famous overnight, and is supposedly relishing the last moments of her anonymity. Do actresses know they can keep their anonymity by not starring in massively hyped studio features? Someone might want to inform them because this seems to be a real problem, people stumbling into fame when all they really wanna do is grow a vegetable garden and brush their horses.
We keep hearing about how funny she is (yet she doesn’t actually say or do anything funny during the interview), how “discombobulated” she is (even though she always knew she would be in the business), how she really wants to just hide away in Nashville with her boyfriend who plays in an indie rock band (of course he does) and how she loves Patti Smith (as is the law for white girls under 30).
Dakota and the interviewer attend a few fashion shows and visit art exhibits, which is supposed to highlight Dakota’s worldliness and stylish bent. They don’t talk about her take on Anastasia Steele, and I wonder if it’s by design. For me, the sexism of Fifty Shades Of Grey is not in the sex but in Ana’s complete lack of identity. She’s a 20-something with no social media, no computer, no email address and no experience other than school and a job in a hardware store. Sadly, in her entire time at college, she could not find even one boy suitable to make out with. She is invisible to most people but him. Throughout the books, she’s made into Christian’s image of a woman, and I’m curious to see if Dakota can add a dimension to the character that wasn’t in the book, like Kristen Stewart did for Bella.
As it stands though, she’s really nailed Anastasia’s indistinctiveness.
Click here to read the VOGUE article and to see more pictures.