This year's conspicuously white awards season continues: The annual Hollywood Issue of Vanity Fair has arrived.
The 21st Hollywood Issue features a fleet of Oscar-bait actors: Channing Tatum, Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon, Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sienna Miller, and David Oyelow. But you'll notice that only Tatum, Adams, and Witherspoon's faces are on the front panel of the cover — the part buyers see on the newsstand. The "power panel," if you will.
Oyelowo, the star of "Selma" and the lone actor of color is found positioned on the middle fold, behind a bunch of British interlopers (Redmayne, Jones, and Cumberbatch). His face will be hidden on the newsstand. You have to unfold the cover to find the brother. (Latino actor Oscar Isaac is also all the way over on the third panel.)
Vanity Fair has done this before — year after year actors of color are placed off to the right, away from the main panel.
This year, it's just another snub against the talented Selma star and his entire cast, what with the praised Dr. Martin Luther King biopic being shut out of every Academy Award category save Best Picture. But even more, it just feels like a total step backwards for the publication, considering last year's Hollywood issue was a lot more diverse.
In 2014, after years of shoving black actors off the first panel and to the right, Vanity Fair actually placed not one, but TWO black male actors (Idris Elba! Chiwetel Ejiofor!) on the front "power panel" — and four additional black actors (Lupita N'yongo, Michael B. Jordan, Naomie Harris, and Chadwick Boseman) were on the fold-out. You can't go from Idris Elba to Magic Mike in less than a year without someone noticing. That's what we call a downgrade.
But know that our ire is not necessarily directed at magazine covers alone: Hollywood has a race problem, and certainly a problem with what is worthwhile and whom is considered talented. Last year's Academy Awards felt like a huge shift in representation — what with the Best Picture and Best Supporting Actress wins going to 12 Years a Slave and Lupita N'yongo. But was that a passing phase for Hollywood? Is the industry still focused as ever on positioning diverse stories and individuals out of the foreground and into the background? Sadly, from the looks of things, it seems so.
Photos via Vanity Fair.
Marjon Carlos is a style and culture writer for Fusion who boasts a strong turtleneck game and opinions on the subjects of fashion, gender, race, pop culture, and men's footwear.