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 B√ľndchen.

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.


Anonymous said...

It is real simple.

I'm sorry, but it is proven with the money many of our people will do things blindly and not realize it. The magazine will be like, "He didn't have a problem with it." How say did he have in that picture and why not a black woman? I mean again, we complain about this and that, but $$$ seems to put all that stuff in a locked cabinet untouched for years.

LaVistas said...

I feel we have been led to believe that gracing the cover of various magazines means that we have made it, we are now of a certain prestige. I think we, as a people need, to re-define our meaning of pretigious. If we do not start looking for that honor within ourselves we will continue to allow others to dictate what is and what is not worthy to be honored. Even if that means taking a picture that is of a blatant resemblance to an ape.

Creative Commons License
Negrointellectual by Vernon C. Mitchell, Jr. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at