Tag Archives: magazines

GQ Writer Compares Harold and Kumar to “The Happy Go Lucky Negro” Caricature

by Latoya Peterson

Paging through the new issue of GQ, I happened to notice an article on the upcoming Harold and Kumar movie. I browsed the article – which is a critique of the film that gives away way too much of the plot – before pausing at this paragraph:

The lowly stoner comedy has always had interesting underpinnings, too, starting with the ethnic angle that dates from Cheech & Chong’s invention of the genre. Even when the stoners are Anglo, the basic gag amounts to a weird modern spin on old-fashioned race humor. Like the comic minorities white folks used to laugh at in a bygone screen era, they’re funny because they can’t get with the program. Face it, they’re our time’s inoffensive equivalent of that offensive Jim Crow caricature, the Happy-Go-Lucky Negro: those childlike perceptions, that puzzlement about responsibility. Sean Penn’s Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High is the perfect example.

Umm…I didn’t read the movie that way at all. But I suppose I see how that perspective could be argued.

Well, I did see how that perspective could be argued until I hit the next paragraph, which reads (emphasis mine):

Hurwitz and Schlossberg’s trick is to take advantage of all this at the same time they’re turning it inside out. One joke is that the heroes come from two immigrant groups with reps for industrious conformity, not rebellion. Another is that they aren’t slackers: They’re bright college grads on the fast track to success—à la Borat, the clouds of reefer smoke and the actors’ ethnicities barely hide Harold and Kumar’s secret identities as a couple of brainy, affluent Jewish kids who aren’t too unlike, dare I guess, their creators. That just shows how things have changed, since Jewish characters used to have to be disguised as—or in a pinch, played by—goys to keep Middle America buying tickets. Now they’ve got to be passed off as dope-happy Koreans and Indians to avoid looking like juvenile Woody Allens.

Whoa, whoa, whoa – WTF?

I find a great many things wrong with that statement, but I’ll open up the floor on this one – what do you think the writer is implying?

Model Minority: How Women’s Magazines Whitewash Different Ethnicities

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee

Associate Editor Alex Alvarez, befuddled to find that her boobs and hips, or lack thereof, seem to fall in and out fashion like leggings and stirrup pants and poppers, takes a look at the American women’s magazine industry in an attempt to decipher just how, exactly, they can get away with telling women their bodies are ok – if only they’d look more like white girls. (Take The Quiz On Page 62!)

My name is Alex Alvarez. And I hate women’s magazines.

Don’t get me wrong: I like fashion and I’ve worked at several magazines over the past couple of years. I can talk about Courrèges and Two Girls, One Cup in the same breath. But so many women’s magazines, both “fashion” mags like Glamour and Vogue and “sexy” mags like Cosmo and Horse & Hound do women so much more harm than good.

Women’s magazines have long been accused of creating a standard of beauty that will forever be just out of the grasp of most women – prompting them, of course, to wait until next month’s issue for more advice on how to be perfect. (Hint! Transplant your face with this other face.) Selling women this promise not only keeps magazines on newsstands and subscriptions in the mail, it also helps appease the real driving force behind all magazines — advertisers and Satan. And what women end up purchasing is cosmetic “whiteness.” You know you’ve made it, baby, when you wake up looking like you faceplanted on Plymouth Rock.

In this feature, I’ll take a look at women from four, over-simplified ethnic or racial backgrounds and see just how, exactly, magazines are fucking them all up. Then, after a few dozen sex quizzes and several minutes of trying to figure out how you can both “Love Your Body!” and orient yourself on the latest “Plastic Surgery Tips Every Woman Should Know!” without wanting to gag yourself on an exclamation point, I’ll give the magazine industry a few tips on how to talk to women.

Latina

Brief Overview: Latinas are portrayed as being sultry and seductive. They can get away with playing the “bad girl,” possibly because they are allowed – and even encouraged – to have more overtly sexual bodies, with an emphasis on curves, dark eyes and bright, plump, shiny, slick, wet lips shown in loving close-ups, usually while the face to which they’re attached is growling or purring or doing something else that’s totally fierce. They also give better head. Oh. There goes my attempt at subtlety.

The ideal: Jennifer Lopez

Hair: Often enough, Latinas have “big hair” with lots of volume, possibly as a middle ground among the various hair textures found among Latinas of different races.

Skin: Latinas are often depicted as having an olive complexion, with lighter or darker generally ignored or unmentioned by mainstream media.

Ass: Big, round. Makes a “ka-ching ka-ching” sound when bouncing in time to a song about cars and beach houses.

Breasts: While Latinas are generally depicted with large backsides, breast size is allowed to vary. As long as they’re big.

How magazines fucked up: “Latina” is not a race. It’s a diverse group made of many racial, ethnic and religious groups. Some who don’t even look like J-Lo. Additionally, women can’t have it both ways. While Latinas have been “en vogue” for a period of time, certain celebrated icons of “Latina beauty,” such as Jennifer Lopez and Salma Hayek, have whittled down their once-celebrated curvy figures as the years have gone by. Wait until Jennifer loses all that baby weight. She’ll look so much better without Marc.

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Garcelle Beauvais derided for her “white twins”

by guest contributor dnA, originally published at Too Sense

There’s a lot of hating going on over at Bossip on a thread that posted the cover of Jet, featuring the gorgeous Garcelle Beauvais and her adorable twins:

(The one on the right is making a black power fist. I’m for surrious.)

Most of the hating takes the form of the “why she datin’ that white man” or “them babies is white and ugly” or “I thought they had AIDS” ect, ect. The kids better get used to it though, because just judging by the choice of wardrobe, Mrs. Beauvais-Nilon is going to be raising those kids to think of themselves as black, so they’re going to hear a lot of this:

That white man got some STRONG genes. What is he german?

And:

Not impresssed at with her ALL WHITE TWINS!!! Just what we need more white folks in this world. Pathetic!!!

Sigh.

Will There Ever Be an African Vogue?

by guest contributor Brigitte, originally published at Make Fetch Happen

Do you remember when Vogue India hit the stands and Australian model Gemma Ward was front and center flanked by two presumably Indian models in what I like to call “the coveted Beyonce spot?” All I could do was laugh at how predictable that move was on the editors part.

In the months since that launch last year, Vogue India has featured a dazzling array of Bollywood actresses and models on the cover. It’s as if to say, “yeah, we thought the cover on that premiere issue was lame too but we fully intend to make up for it!”

Anytime I think about that launch I wonder if an African country will ever get its own Vogue. Maybe a Vogue Nigeria or a South African Vogue.

I’ve debated back and forth on message boards about who would be chosen for the imaginary inagural cover. Legendary Iman? Alek Wek? Liya? Oluchi? Gemma in a safari hat?

I read an article in The Times last week about Oluchi in which she was quoted as saying that top magazines in South Africa (like Glamour and GQ) refuse to put blacks on their covers. This in a country that is 79% black.

She said:

“As a Nigerian and an African I have done so much in my career to represent everything African in Western countries. There is a diverse group of people in South Africa, be it black, white, Asian. …If you pick up Vogue India everything about it, from the first page to the last, is very Indian…I would like to see that in South Africa. They [magazines] need to embrace diversity and show more love …It doesn’t give me joy to pick up a copy of South African GQ and feel like I’m reading American GQ.”

Damn.

This saddens me. I recall seeing the cover of South African ELLE once with a dark skinned woman on the cover and for months I tried to find an issue at various newsstands only to come up empty. I was dying to know if the cover I saw was an anomoly. So far, I’m not willing to pony up the $90 or so for a subscription to find out.

Back to my magazine fantasy…I picture two covers. The first one featuring a mix of models from all over the continent with Iman or Liya Kebede, Alek Wek or Ajuma to show the very different types of African beauty. My second thought has editors mixing it up a bit more with the likes of a Jourdan Dunn, Emanuela dePaula, Chanel Iman, Chrystelle Saint-Louis Augustin, or Damaris Lewis to illustrate how there isn’t a corner of the world that hasn’t been touched by this so called dark continent’s beauty and influence.

Seriously, I could ponder this for hours. I am so much more satisfied by made up magazines than by their real conterparts. Maybe there’s an editor out there dreaming of this launch too, and of Gemma Ward posing on an elephant for the cover.

LeBron James as King Kong on cover of Vogue?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

The King Kong-esque imagery on the latest cover of Vogue is so striking that even bloggers who don’t usually write about race are sitting up and taking notice. Blog Fashionista said: “It shows personality, sure, but the whole “Me, Tarzan. You, Jane,” vibe doesn’t sit well with the french fries we had for lunch.”

Brigitte at Make Fetch Happen wonders “why does Anna Wintour have such a hard nipples for black folks with their mouths hanging wide open on her magazine? Specifically, I’m thinking about Jennifer Hudson’s horribly unflattering cover last year.”

And Chic and Untroubled asks if Anna Wintour is just blatantly ripping off her French counterpart, sans drag queen: “Sure, Lebron could never be confused with the ultra-fabulous Andre J. But look how both covers – featuring black man and attractive model – are so similar in format. Even right down to the cover lines – look how they are both mostly concentrated to the left side.”

What do you think of the cover, featuring athlete LeBron James with supermodel Gisele?

Freaking out over Freakonomics

by guest contributor Jae Ran Kim, originally published at Harlow’s Monkey

I was dumbfounded to read Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt’s response on his NYT blog to a reader’s question about the economic ramifications of international adoption (thanks to durgamom on resist racism for bringing this to my attention). I’ve commented on Levitt before in this post.

Q: What is your opinion on how international adoption affects the economy, race and class divisions, and the widening income gap within the U.S.? What do you think of the argument that children are “readily available for adoption” in the U.S., and, further, that adoption is marketed as a product with benefits?

A: I don’t think international adoption affects the economy in any meaningful way. We are talking about very small numbers of children being adopted from foreign countries into the U.S. each year – perhaps 20,000 children total, compared to the 3 million children born each year in the U.S. Adoption does, however, profoundly affect those families that adopt. My life has been completely changed because of the two daughters my wife and I adopted from China.

You’re right that some people in the U.S. really don’t like foreign adoption. Some have argued that it is a form of subtle racism, in that parents like me will go to China to adopt, but won’t adopt a black child here in the U.S. This is a complex issue – far too complex for me to discuss in all its richness here. But let me at least explain some of the thinking underlying my own decision to adopt from abroad. The first factor was that our son, Andrew, had just died. We were not emotionally prepared to navigate the U.S. adoption scene, which is full of uncertainty for adoptive parents for two reasons: 1) the relative scarcity of healthy but unwanted babies being put up for adoption since the legalization of abortion; and 2) the emphasis on birth parent rights.

We did give some serious thought to adopting either a black child domestically, or adopting from Africa. It turns out that African adoption is extremely complicated, as Madonna discovered the hard way. Ultimately, my own view was that the identity issues faced by a black child raised by white parents would be too difficult. Some of my academic research with Roland Fryer has made clear to me the stark choices that black teens, especially boys, have to make about “who they are.” As a parent, I was not willing to take the chance on loving and raising an adopted child, only to know that when he became a teenager he would have to face the choice of being “black” or “white,” and that either choice would be very costly for him (and also for me). That same sort of racial “all or nothing” choice is not at play for Asian youths in our society.

First of all, Levitt doesn’t really respond to the majority of the reader’s question. He only tackles the economy part in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. Using the average fees for the most well known and respected adoption agency in my state, if adoptive parents paid an average of, say, $20,000 – $25,000 a child then those 20,000+ children adopted from other countries last year add up to $400,000,000 – $500,000,000. We know that not all of this money stays in the United States economy. So, granted, Levitt is correct that this sum is pretty insignificant in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. If you calculate the 108,006 children adopted internationally from 2002 – 2006 at an average of $20,000 per child, that pumps in $1,080,060,000 that pays for adoption workers and adoption agencies. However, Levitt doesn’t mention that the overall “adoption industry” expands way beyond the singular item of agency fees. There are all the post-adoption services provided by agencies, books, those damn t-shirts, culture camps, therapy, trainings, etc. Considering that in 2000, the adoption industry generated 1.5 billion dollars* and prices have only risen exponentially, I argue that Levitt is minimizing the economic impact because, like many of us, it appears unseemly to talk about children in terms of a financial spreadsheet.

Levitt’s response to the next part of the reader’s question really begins to veer away into his own personal rationalizations. Continue reading

Asian American Mags Gain Ground: Thirteen Minutes, Audrey, and East West

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

East West

East West
Billing itself as the complete Asian-American lifestyle magazine, East West runs the gamut from business advice to romance. East West (formerly East West Woman) is also the only magazine that regularly features Desi contributors as well as Desi cover girls.

In terms of articles, East West has a wide range of fare to satisfy all sorts of palates. From global news coverage to an in-depth analysis Asian-American roles on televisions to a Sake 101 primer and tips for bargaining at Asian markets, this publication aims to keeps its readers informed and connected to both of their cultures.

East West also features first person perspectives, like “Growing Up ABCD” by Farah Z. Khalid. In the article, Khalid explains the concept of being an American Born Confused Desi and pulls us into her childhood with tales of trading soccer for Islamic school and annual pilgrimages back to visit relatives, laden with gifts.

The fashion spreads are also cute and wearable, but East West feels like it skews a bit older, made for the professionally settled woman in her thirties to forties. While there is plenty of content for younger readers, East West occupies the same sphere as Essence – a publication designed to reach their demographic in all walks of life. It is a great challenge, but the East West editors handle it well.

Thirteen Minutes

13 Mins

“A Bicultural Asian-American Magazine.”

I must admit it was the tagline that caught my eye on the newsstand, even while accompanied by a very striking cover image.

Thirteen Minutes distinguishes itself with truly gorgeous and distinctive fashion, buoyed by excellent photography. The spreads are so engaging, I literally caught my breath a few times just looking at striking images that leaped off the page demanding my attention. The magazine manages to walk the line between high fashion and wearable with aplomb. I used some of my purloined Yes/No/Maybe stickers from a Lucky Magazine to mark up the pages – and it is one of the few times where a fashion magazine has inspired me enough to track down a designer and pay for an item displayed in spread, rather than using the spread as inspiration for my own budget conscious finds.

The articles are also useful, if a little boring. All the standard women’s interest fare is in here, with a distinctly Asian twist: “How to Lose 10 Pounds by Lunar New Year,” “Finding Your Inner Feng Shui,” and “This Isn’t Your Mother’s Plastic Surgery.” There are also excellent articles on Asians and Asian Americans in the media, featuring everyone from Anna May Wong to Alex Thuy. Thirteen Minutes even manages to cover international pop stars and local acts. It’s a music lover’s dream. Continue reading

Glamour Magazine on Women, Race, and Beauty

by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson

I’ve been waiting for this shoe to drop.

Last August, a former Glamour editor found herself in a hailstorm of controversy after she gave a speech to a law firm where she indicated that an afro was not an office appropriate hairstyle. Jezebel had the scoop:

[A] recent slide show by an unidentified Glamour editor on the “Dos and Don’ts of Corporate Fashion” at a New York law firm shed some light on the topic, according to this month’s American Lawyer magazine.

First slide up: an African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no, announced the ‘Glamour’ editor to the 40 or so lawyers in the room. As for dreadlocks: How truly dreadful! The style maven said it was ‘shocking’ that some people still think it ‘appropriate’ to wear those hairstyles at the office. ‘No offense,’ she sniffed, but those ‘political’ hairstyles really have to go.

In November of that year, Glamour tried to make amends to its readership by hosting a panel to discuss Women, Race, and Beauty. The March Issue of Glamour contains the transcript from the panel as well as some extra information about the panelists and some sidebars.

Reading the finished product, I notice I am left feeling unsatisfied. It’s kind of like when I saw The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift soundtrack advertised. DJ Shadow, Mos Def, Verbal from M-Flo, Dragon Ash, The Far*East Movement, and N.E.R.D. were all featured but after I previewed the tracks, I ended up leaving the CD in the store. How did something so right go so wrong?

I got the same feeling from this Glamour article. All the all stars are here: Farai Chideya (NPR, News & Notes), Vanessa Bush (Essence), Jami Floyd (TV Anchor), Daisy Hernandez (Colorlines), Lisa Price (Carol’s Daughter Hair Products), Venus Opal Reese (PH.D, University of Texas), Mally Roncal (Celebrity Make Up Artist/make up creator), and Barbara Trepagnier (Professor of Sociology). And yet…

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