Superstar basketball player LeBron James becomes the first black man to cover Vogue in its 115-year history. Photographer Annie Leibovitz captures the image of James and supermodel Gisele Bundchen and, "his mouth wide open and teeth exposed holding a trophy, so to speak," notes Jasmyne Cannick, who, like many critics have compared the cover to the iconic image of King Kong and actress Fay Wray.
ESPN columnist Jemelle Hill also notes the similarity:
"LeBron has Gisele in one hand and a basketball in the other. LeBron is dressed in basketball gear, with his muscles flexing, tattoos showing and bared teeth. Gisele, on the other hand, is wearing a gorgeous slim-fitting dress, and smiling.
"She looks like she's on her way to something fashionable and exciting. He looks like he's on his way to a pickup game for serial killers.
"Now, maybe the point was to show the contrast between brawn and beauty, masculinity versus femininity, strength versus grace. But Vogue's quest to highlight the differences between superstar athletes and supermodels only successfully reinforces the animalistic stereotypes frequently associated with black athletes."
LeBron James would have cut a dashing figure in a Lanvin or Armani suit, but, that was probably not "fashion forward" enough for Anna Wintour. Given his stardom, the baller could have insisted on a more flattering image. Then again, this is the same LeBron James that was the only member of the Cleveland Cavaliers to refuse to publicly condemn the Chinese government for its role in the ongoing genocide in Darfur. LeBron James has become the caricature of a ridiculously wealthy entertainer with no social conscience.
Some Background ...
"We All Witness" Darfur Except LeBron James [R20]