Friday, March 21, 2008
King James or King Kong?
There has been some intense discussion about the recent cover photo of VOGUE magazine and the depiction of basketball-star LeBron James (left) with super model, Gisele Bündchen.
The comparison to the beast, King Kong, appears more than evident here.
In a recent study appearing the the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, they engage this issue at length. The findings of the researchers was that "historical representations explicitly depicting blacks as apelike have largely disappeared, in the United States, yet a mental association between Blacks and apes remains." The researchers go on further to argue that in criminal cases particularly dealing with capital crimes are "more likely to contain ape-relevant language than news articles written about White convicts. Moreover," they continue, "those who are implicitly portrayed as more apelike in these articles are more likely to be executed by the state than those who are not."
So the question is does this picture of LeBron depict him as an apelike being holding the chaste embodiment of white womanhood in his arms like a sex raged brute found in D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation (1915)? Or maybe the response to the photograph is just an example of folks being a bit too culturally and racially sensitive? Either way, LeBron needs to get some real advice about the photographs he takes. Compare LeBron as "Kong" to this shot of LeBron as a "man":
Now why couldn't they use a picture like this one? To my knowledge LeBron might be the only black man ever to grace the cover of the well-known fashion magazine. Additionally he is third man to appear on the cover of the 116-year old fashion magazine. Actors Richard Gere and George Clooney have preceded James. In world driven by subtle and not so subtle racial stereotypes why couldn't he wear a suit or sport coat and give a more gentlemanly demeanor than what has been photographed? Maybe I'm being sensitive too? Then again, maybe not.
Posted by negrointellectual at 1:53 PM