February 28, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Vanity Fair Hollywood issue under fire for excluding Latinos

Vanity Fair’s kaleidoscopic attempt at an inclusive Hollywood issue cover was celebrated on social media Tuesday, but fell flat with a number of critics who called out the magazine for excluding Latinx stars.

The brightly hued pullout cover and its splashy presentation on the magazine’s website debuted Tuesday to applaud the actors, producers and directors “who pushed storytelling forward with hope and humanity during a surreal year.”

The cover features several awards season contenders and pandemic-era stars — Michael B. Jordan, Charlize Theron, Zendaya, Sacha Baron Cohen on the main cover, and Spike Lee, Maya Rudolph, LaKeith Stanfield (riding a white horse, no less), Awkwafina, Michaela Coel and Daniel Levy on the second panel — in a psychedelic aesthetic.

Some commenters were quick to point out that no creatives of Latinx descent were included in the shoot.

“I’m here to ask where are the Latinos?” one Twitter user wrote. To which someone else replied: “We’re the life of their parties, but very rarely get an invitation.”

That sentiment echoed a long-simmering frustration among Latinx creators in Hollywood who are fighting to be seen on-screen and behind the scenes.

Other critics noted that the magazine’s A-list star power felt out of step in a year marred by so much turmoil brought on by politics and the pandemic.

Nonetheless, Vanity Fair reveled in its endeavor.

“The 27th Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue is here! In a surreal year, these 10 stars rose to new creative heights, plumbed new emotional depths, and showed us hope and humanity,” said the caption on Vanity Fair’s Instagram post. It aimed to “create a dazzling fantasia in celebration of these visionaries who have been leaning in, learning, and lighting the way forward.”

The irreverent portraits and accompanying video were shot by conceptual artists Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari, who directed the portfolio shoots from Costa Rica.

The annual issue usually pulls off the herculean feat of gathering the luminaries in one room for the photo op. But stars were shot individually and remotely this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic and later super-imposed on surreal sets with imaginary bears, gargoyles and chandeliers.

This year’s shoots were still a grand undertaking, taking place virtually over 10 remote locations spanning six cities and four continents. In a statement, the magazine said it was “executed with a level of collaboration that takes on extra meaning and value in a time of isolation.”

“We could not have asked for a more talented, transcendent cast of characters than our cover stars this year,” editor in chief Radhika Jones wrote in the issue’s editor’s letter. “They have helped push the boundaries of what entertainment can be, and the stories it can convey, whether in a theater or on your television or someplace in between. This issue exists to celebrate Hollywood and take measure of its evolution, and on both fronts, we found plenty to talk about.”

Per Richard Lawson’s cover story titled “Let There Be Light”: “[E]veryone we’ve tapped for our 27th annual Hollywood Issue worked to keep important conversations alive either onscreen or behind the scenes, or both.” His essay also spoke of “the twin wounds of halted production and the shuttering of movie theaters” that pushed Hollywood “into an existential crisis.”

It’s unclear who else the magazine tried to recruit for the issue and who declined. Reps for Vanity Fair did not comment Tuesday on the lack of Latino representation when reached by The Times.

It’s also the second year in a row that the magazine ditched its usual portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz, who shot more than a dozen of the splashy covers.

Last year, Ethan James Green photographed the cover, which featured Eddie Murphy, Renée Zellweger, Jennifer Lopez, Laura Dern and Antonio Banderas, among others. In 2019, photographer Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki’s cover featured stars such as “Roma” actress Yalitza Aparicio, Chadwick Boseman, John David Washington, Rami Malek, Tessa Thompson and Henry Golding.

The 2021 issue includes stories on the 10 cover stars, plus a profile of actress Amanda Seyfried, a history of the Snyder cut of Warner Bros.’ “Justice League” and an investigation of the Hillsong megachurch.

The print issue hits newsstands March 2.