Vanity Fair's influential Hollywood issue stirred up controversy the minute it hit newssands last week, as critics noted that all nine of the upcoming starlets on the cover are thin and white. Only inside did Vanity Fair touch on the meteoric rise of "Precious" star Gabourey Sidibe, who is neither white nor thin. Sidibe said she noticed but "very quickly got over it" -- the critics haven't. Is Vanity Fair snubbing non-white actors, or is the magazine being unfairly accused of racism? (Watch Gabourey Sidibe talk about young Hollywood)
Vanity Fair lives in an all-white "alternate universe": It's ridiculous to suggest there's not one up-and-coming black, Latina, or Asian actress who was "cover-worthy," says Sam Ali in Diversity Inc. By excluding Oscar-nominated Gabourey Sidibe, Vanity Fair's white editors are making it clear that they live in an "alternate universe" where the future of Hollywood is "wispy, waif-like, and white," with no exceptions.
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The magazine isn't racist -- American pop culture is: Race still matters in America, and it still matters in Hollywood, says Joshua Alston in Newsweek. So as "a big, black woman" Gabourey Sidibe is destined for a career as a character actor, not a leading lady. It's not fair, but putting her on the cover with all the "wispy, white" starlets wouldn't have changed anything. Vanity Fair is "a symptom," not the problem.
Gabourey Sidibe, and Zoe Saldana, ARE the new Hollywood: The usually "fabulous" Hollywood issue is supposed to highlight "promising newcomers," says Nell Minow in BeliefNet. Well, Sidibe went from a nobody to a Best Actress Oscar nominee in one year, and dark-skinned Zoe Saldana was the female lead in "the biggest box office movie of all time," "Avatar." Whatever the reason, overlooking them was a mistake.
Black is becoming beautiful, slowly: At least Vanity Fair's not "as monochromatic as some of its competitors," says Jeff Bercovici in Daily Finance. Last year's Hollywood issue had Saldana and America Ferrera on the cover, even if they were, sadly, on the folded-over section. And with Michelle Obama and Oprah disproving the industry adage that black faces don't sell magazines, there's hope that next year's cover could look more diverse.
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