The Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue has a spectacular but controversial past, much like Hollywood itself. To be honest, there are some classic VF Hollywood issues that I look back on and still get excited about. Like certain ones from the 90s featuring people who would become Mega Celebrities – who, of course, were almost always white. If I’m honest then, I have to check myself, I have to check the conditioning, the bias because as fun as those “glory days” were, even referring to them as “glory days” is problematic, and as much classic gossip that was produced in those times, many of us are now seeing through a different lens, and perhaps asking ourselves to revisit past perspectives, or at least consider them with a less narrow focus, one that reflects on which stars were elevated and why, and how many more were deserving but not invited, and or ignored.
Over the last decade, Vanity Fair has been asked as well to expand their selection of who is represented in the Hollywood issue and they’ve been criticised when they were slow to meet the moment. So here we are, in 2021, and it’s award season, it’s that time of year, the Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue is here. Three slides below:
Look, I don’t envy the editors and other decision-makers who have to make the call on which grouping is placed on the cover flap, who shows up in the middle, and who gets the third flap. They’re all technically “on the cover” but of course the most prominent placement is where we see Michael B Jordan, Charlize Theron, Zendaya, and Sacha Baron Cohen. If I was in that room where they were debating all of it, I would have struggled with whether or not someone like Spike Lee should be where he is. I understand why the first cover is the first cover. I also could see that an argument could be made that Spike be there, swapped out for Sacha Baron Cohen. But I guess the bigger point is that what we’re seeing in Vanity Fair in 2021 is certainly represents a different approach and discussion than what Vanity Fair was doing in 2011. And if you want to look back at what that was like, click here.
As they do every year, VF’s Hollywood Issue is a whole package, with features on all ten of the performers highlighted and will take some time to truly savour. So a quick note for now before we dive deeper into the specifics.
Maya Rudolph! I love that how she refers to herself as an “elder”, LOL. Maya is in her mid-40s, not necessarily an “elder” in my opinion, but I get it, I get why she’s talking like this, after all her years in the business and the range of work she’s done – which is probably still underrated. Maya Rudolph makes EVERYTHING better. She’s the kind of performer you respond to the moment she opens her mouth. As soon as she starts talking on Big Mouth, I’m laughing; it might not even be funny, what she’s saying, but Maya has a way of adding to material that always, always elevates it. And sometimes I feel like since she seems like she’s always having a good time, people assume that it’s easy. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s quite difficult. There are just some people who show you how hard it is – even harder than it has to be (ahem, Jared Leto) – and people like Maya who aren’t about that flex. So it’s wonderful to see her take her place here. In the almost-splits, LOL.
Head to Vanity Fair for the full Hollywood Issue portfolio.