I Guess the Answer is “No.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the King…

Big man, little womanExactly one week ago, I ran a photo of the current LeBron James/Gisele Bündchen VOGUE cover, right, and noted, upon seeing it, “my first raw thought was that James looked bestial. They look like King Kong and Fay Wray.” (This, in the context of my reporting on a recent study that found many Americans subconsciously associate Black people with apes.)

I then asked, “Is it just me? Am I just imagining this?”

Apparently not. According to this Associated Press piece (thanks, Ray Winbush) titled, “Vogue cover starring LeBron James is called racially insensitive by some”:

the image is stirring up controversy, with some commentators decrying the photo as perpetuating racial stereotypes. James strikes what some see as a gorilla-like pose, baring his teeth, with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen’s tiny waist.

It’s an image some have likened to “King Kong” and Fay Wray.

“It conjures up this idea of a dangerous black man,” said Tamara Walker, 29, of Philadelphia.

The piece also quotes James, himself, who reportedly told The Cleveland Plain Dealer that

he was pleased with the cover, saying he was “just showing a little emotion.”

“Everything my name is on is going to be criticized in a good way or bad way,” James told the paper. “Who cares what anyone says?”

Magilla and OgeeRight. In other words, LeBron, this is about you.

Even more damaging was the critique of legendary media analyst Samir “Mr. Magazine” Husni, who said he

believes the photo was deliberately provocative, adding that it “screams King Kong.” Considering Vogue’s influential history, he said, covers are not something that the magazine does in a rush.

“So when you have a cover that reminds people of King Kong and brings those stereotypes to the front, Black man wanting white woman, it’s not innocent,” he said.

In an excellent piece for ESPN.com, columnist Jemele Hill, also quoted in the AP article, thinks

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.

A Black athlete being reduced to a savage is, sadly, nothing new. But this cover gave you the double-bonus of having LeBron and Gisele strike poses that others in the blogosphere have noted draw a striking resemblance to the racially charged image of King Kong enveloping his very fair-skinned lady love interest.

LeBron is just the third male ever to appear on Vogue’s cover, but it’s hard to believe Vogue would have made Brett Favre, Steve Nash or even David Beckham strike his best beast pose. And even if Vogue had, it wouldn’t carry the same racial undertones as having a fear-inducing Black man paired with a dainty damsel.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.



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