Vanity Fair Competes with Playboy


Cross Post from Reasoned Audacity

Tom Ford and Keira Knightly

on the cover of Vanity Fair

I’ll admit that Vanity Fair is not exactly a high defender of morality in our culture, even on a good day. The ads they accept in their pages have been problematic for quite some time. But for the most part, their cover art, even though edgy, has stayed on the right side of discretion.

But this month, they leapt over the line, with a cover photograph of Tom Ford — fully clothed — biting Keira Knightly’s ear. Knightly is completely naked. Reclining in front of them is Scarlett Johanssen, also completely nude.

CNBC Video Clip Here

So much for progress toward female empowerment. That’s the argument I made on CNBC Wednesday night when they asked me to discuss the cover with an editor from Forbes and Todd Myers, Lead Consultant for Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve.

I’ve included the clip up above if you’d like to see it. But WARNING! Almost the entire segment is the three of us talking over b-roll of the Vanity Fair cover. They just replay lingering shots of the nudity over and over and over again.

There are two issues that particularly trouble me about the cover. The first is the juxtaposition of Ford, the man, being fully clothed . . . while the women are nude. Feminists ought to be outraged. I am. What’s the message being sent there? There are several — pick one. None of them are ones you want sent to your daughter.

And that brings me to my second concern. What does this cover say to young women about success in Hollywood? Anywhere? Both Knightley and Johanssen are well-respected young actresses. Keira Knightly, in particular, is one that my own girls have admired.

I wish these two had had the moral courage to take a stand for virtue.

Or, if that couldn’t clear that high bar, at least make a stand for talent over crass commodification.

Rachel McAdams

Let me be sure, then, to send praises along to one who did: Rachel McAdams, another young Hollywood actress (“Wedding Crashers”). Defamer reports that she was supposed to be on the cover with Keira and Scarlett, but when she found out the plan for the shoot involved nudity, she left. . . and fired her publicist. Good going, Rachel.



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2 Responses

  1. D says:

    I didn’t think the folks at MSNBC gave Charmaine much of a chance to make a point the other day. I wish she had been given more time to elaborate.


  2. Jack says:

    D. Your are right and that is how the game is played — 2 on 1, but the host gives each panelist the same amount of air-time — for equal time. But it is not equal, of course.

    And that’s why people read blogs.



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