It's February, Black History Month in the United States, and Vanity Fair dares to put nine young lily white up-and-coming actresses on its March (don't ask) cover: Kristen Stewart, Abbie Cornish, Anna Kendrick, Rebecca Hall, Carey Mulligan, Mia Wasikowska, Amanda Seyfried, Emma Stone, and Evan Rachel Wood. Annie Leibovitz did the shoot.
And some have been utterly outraged.
Even though, in all fairness, only Cornish, Stewart, and Mulligan are actually seen on the cover. The others are in the fold-out.
It's silly to call the shoot, the photographer, or the magazine “racist.” I think the nine women look great and the set up is striking. Having said that, I do wish they had included Gabourey Sidibe – and not because of the color of her skin. After all, she is an upcoming actress who received excellent reviews for her abused teen in Precious. In fact, Sidibe just got a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. How many others in the Vanity Fair photo shoot can boast that feat? One: Carey Mulligan. (Anna Kendrick was nominated in the supporting category.)
Freida Pinto is another one who should have been included. I mean, how many of the Vanity Fair actresses have starred in a Best Picture Oscar winner? Answer: none. (Perhaps Pinto and Sidibe were unavailable? That I don't know.)
Avatar's Zoe Saldana is 31. Perhaps too over-the-hill for Vanity Fair's “young” concept. All of those over 30 should start protesting right now.
'All-White' 'Vanity Fair' cover weak sales
June 28 update: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse actress Kristen Stewart, An Education's Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan, and Bright Star co-star Abbie Cornish were featured on the cover of the March 2010 issue of Vanity Fair. In the fold-out, readers could find Anna Kendrick, Rebecca Hall, Mia Wasikowska, Amanda Seyfried, Emma Stone, and Evan Rachel Wood.
An angry debate ensued, with some accusing the magazine of being racist (all of the women are white), ageist (all of the women are under 30), fattist (all of the women are thin), Anglo-ist (all of the women are from English-speaking countries), sexist (none of the women are men), etc.
You'd have thought that, however inane, these kinds of controversies would boost sales. Not so, apparently.
Shot by Annie Leibovitz, the March cover for the “A New Decade. A New Hollywood!” issue was the lowest newsstand seller for the first five months of 2010 according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations Rapid Report. (Via the New York Observer.)
Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish, Amanda Seyfried, Anna Kendrick, et al. sold only 300,000 copies.
With 435,000 single sale copies – or nearly 50 percent more copies sold than “A New Hollywood!” – Vanity Fair's 2010 bestseller to date is the January issue featuring Old(er) Hollywood Meryl Streep on the cover. Back then, Streep was winning Best Actress awards left and right, and was a top Oscar contender for her performance as Julia Child in Julie & Julia.