Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Vanity (Un)Fair

As I glanced at the cover of Vanity Fair's, "Africa Issue," I did my usual furrowing of the brow. After all, what can one of my countenance do when confronted with the silliness, the stupidity and just plain full of crap chest thumping that mass media doles out? Truth is, crap has always been a staple. After all, over eighty years ago, what were the Dadaists and Surrealists rebelling against if not the mediocrity of ideas run rampant?

But this was pretty over the top big agency manufactured; 21 stars and otherwise notables, from Ali to Mandela to - god help us - George Dumbya Bush. Shot by no less than Annie Liebowitz.

What I find so annoying about this kind of patronizing - aside from the obvious pat-your-head unctuous-ness that goes along with patronizing - is the utter brazen-ness. I love the way white folks can just figure anything out, how their take is the take on a situation, from AIDS to terrorism.

Just right now I have endured the third viewing of the AmEx spam piece with Alicia Keyes, Cheryl Crow, and, Scorsese???


Much like the absent and sorely missed "Black Looks" blog piece that I posted a while ago, I think that the kind of patronizing our mass media conducts infantilizes the viewer/reader. Simply, they toss celebrity at huge problems, problems that require structural change, infra-structural change. I don't expect that they truly believe that they can help, but it makes me think of how in this modern age one goes to a Lakers game and walks into the Staples Center and is utterly bombarded by spam. Only now, with Vanity Fair and Africa, it's celebrity public relations spam. They're getting us to "buy in" to their "good-ness", no doubt the fruition of many an agent's connections.

A throng of celebs and power mongers imbibe under a BANNER which reads: "Happy B-DAY GEORGE". The CAMERA TRACKS IN to an AGENT and EDITOR - two of the many present.

Agent: I heard you're planning an "Africa Issue."
VF Editor: It's slated for June of '07.
A: Take your pick, you got the roster.
VFE: I dunno Jeremy....
A: Hey, I got you Ricky Martin that time.
VFE: That wasn't the "Africa Issue."
A: I still delivered, and he was white hot.
VFE: Like he didn't need us.
A: You know "People" woulda dropped trow for him then.
VFE: Depends on who was droppin' trow.
A: Ah, well. AFRICA! I like the sound of it...
VFE: You and every agent schmuck here.
A: Nevermind about my aspirations, let's talk cover.
VFE: (spritzes drink) OH LOOK whose balls have grown larger than his big mouth...
A: C'mon man.
VFE: It's gonna cost ya.
A: I got deep pockets. And then some.
VFE: Christ, you went to Yale Law School to ho around like this?
A: Hey, "Thaaaaat's poker." I mean, it's a living.