Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Vanity Fair Follows Oprah Magazine with Breonna Taylor Cover, Debuts Black-Centric Issue But Does Their Audience Want It?

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Last month, Oprah’s O Magazine put Breonna Taylor on the cover. The African American woman was murdered in her own home by police on March 13, 2020 and no one has been arrested. It was the first time Oprah herself wasn’t the cover subject. Brilliant.

Now, Vanity Fair has followed Oprah’s lead and put Taylor on their cover. Instead of a photograph of Taylor, they commissioned a painting.

The September issue of Vanity Fair is black centric, guest edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates, with stories and contributions by at least 40 African American writers whose names are largely unknown to Vanity Fair readers. It’s an unusual move for editor Radhika Jones, who’s facing declining circulation and low online numbers. She’s clearly aiming for magazine awards, a la the New York Times Magazine’s historic 1619 project. The question is, Do Vanity Fair readers want this?

Coates writes of Black Lives Matter in his searing Guest Editor’s Letter: “A thousand Eric Garners will be tolerated, so long as they are strangled to death in the shadows of the American carceral system, the most sprawling gulag known to man. And so evil does its business in the shadows…”

Last month, Oscar, Tony and Emmy winner Viola Davis — one of my favorite all time people — graced Vanity Fair’s cover. Change is here. The old Vanity Fair of Graydon Carter and Tina Brown is officially dead. Jones is declaring that and so is Conde Nast. Today we are seeing the grisly video of police shooting Jacob Blake in the back as he’s in his car with his three sons. There is no going back. No more celebrating white wealth and whim.

I’m looking forward to reading “The Great Fire” issue — and seeing “carceral” become a word that Microsoft 360 doesn’t run a wavy red line under.

Vanity Fair video

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedmanhttps://www.showbiz411.com
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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