Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Big Gorilla

LeBron James is the first black man to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine. Shaft can’t even claim this accomplishment, and he was by all accounts DA MAN! These days all it takes is to be liked or disliked by the establishment to get attention. Not that Mr. James does not garner attention. He does on the hard wood and while he soars through the air like an agile freak of nature. Actually, he commands respect from the best players playing around in our new Hip-Hop National Basketball Association.

LeBron, one of America’s most recognized sports characters, has become an icon. He is well on his way to cementing his place in sports history. This April he proves to the world again that he is versatile and willing to crossover like Sean Combs. However, Combs has not been called King Kong by his critics.

Gracing the cover of Vogue, I am sure, was never a goal of LeBron’s while he drove a Hummer to high school - and I am certain he never thought taking a picture with a top model would cause such a stir. His immaturity and naivety more than likely prevented him from realizing his historical moment in time would offend and/or generate pride. He just didn’t know! Remember, LeBron James is a basketball player – not a social activist.

There are a few pro black loud mouths and a couple white liberal heart liberals who are shouting he should have known the ramifications of such a picture:

"The photo is perpetuating racial stereotypes. James strikes what some see as a gorilla-like pose, baring his teeth, with one hand dribbling a ball and the other around Bundchen’s tiny waist.”

“Images of black male athletes as aggressive and threatening reinforce the criminalization of black men."

Is this another case of 'black hypersensitivity/white guilt empathy' or is this cover/picture purporting stereotypical images with a bit of racist overtures?

Below are three links to articles covering the story. The second link has several reader comments. They are insightful. The third link will take you to the Vogue cover story.

I must say that Lebron James somewhat resembles the Big Gorilla: King Kong!

What say you?

Written by Muata. Inspired by this:

"I am black; I am a woman and I’M SICK OF THE COMPLAINING!!! I see a magazine cover of two human beings with great bodies." -Proud Black Woman



Muata said...

Reader Response:

Not trying to get into a long thread about this but this is
stereotypical. Like it was pointed out by the brother on the SportsReporters on Sunday (an Easter Sunday in which I did not attend church)the athletes have to just say no sometimes and not allow themselves to be portrayed in negative fashions. Did his manager not see this before it hit the press. I wonder if his manager is white or black? Wait...I did some research LRMR marketing is his management. A company he founded with some friends from high school. It is entirely clear he needs more experienced people working for him.


Muata said...

Reader XXX Responds:

The perception people take when looking at things really is interesting. And yes, our perception of people, ideas, things, etc. is rooted in the way we see ourselves--self image/self hate, but also our self love.

I happened upon this cover yesterday in CVS and was bothered. I immediately thought of the movie King Kong. I then became saddened because I am sure they posed for hundreds of shots but Vogue chose to publish this one. I'm sure they found it provocative. I found it insulting and typical. However, even though Vogue made the final decision that does not exonerate LeBron. He is old enough, smart enough (I hope), and rich enough to have a say, if not full control, over how his image is used.

As for the person who says that the cover made sense because it was about "good" bodies, I disagree. I can only see LeBron's arm and can't see Giselle's body because of the sack she's wearing. Not a good argument. That could be an argument if both were in bathing suits or spandex or anything revealing. LeBron's arm tells me NOTHING about the condition of his overall body.

Next, although I don't want to pick on people, I find it interesting that this same person said LeBron is not universally attractive--like that has anything to do with what we are discussing and please know that VOGUE knew his face was a hot mess when they asked him to pose--but said that LeBron was posed next to one of the most beautiful women in the world. Question? How much world travel have you done? Don't answer. As quiet as it's kept, Giselle is not universally attractive either. Yes, I know. But just because they say she is doesn't make it so.

At any rate, as I was leaving the store I wondered why they didn't choose Naomi Campbell, who has a better body than Giselle any day of the week, to pose with...Tom Brady, A-Rod, any of 'em. Then again, why not choose Kobi Bryant and whomever else? They can't do that because Kobe isn't dark enough or unattractive enough (nice looking fellow) to give them that ape look they were going for.

This is definitely an issue.


Muata said...

Reader LS Responds to XXX:

Bermuda, Canada, Bahamas, Panama, Mexico, Hawaii, Dominican republic (not on the resorts)

On my way to Croatia and Greece. Haven't seen the whole world but I like where I've been thus far.

Giselle is certainly universally attractive and just because you don't think so is fine. It's ok to be in the minority. And the real truth is that you have freedom of choice whether to think so or not. I took a poll at my job and the men agree with me and the women were 50/50. The demographics are 60% black, 20% white and 20% other.

SELF LOVE is as a noun means"
1. feelings of excessive pride [syn: amour propre]
2. an exceptional interest in and admiration for yourself; "self-love that shut out everyone else"

Thus a person with true self love would no be so easily offended by a magazine cover. Secondly, how many of you know what was on the cover of Vogue last month? I'd bet you each a drink that less than 5 of you know. MAYBE YOU don't get it. Cool. Maybe it wasn't marketed to you. Lebron owes none of us anything. Why should he be someone we invest pride in? He is 23 and plays basketball. He is still a kid. AND btw whoever said he was smart? I don't think that's ever been a rumor. Role model? nah NOT EVEN close unless you want kids to drive a hummer to high school. Why should Lebron not be in Vogue posing as King Kong if he feels it suits him just because a bunch of oversensitive people who don't buy Vogue get mad?

Read Adam Smith.

As for the cover not revealing anything about his body. Lebron's body is a subject of conversation during ecery basketball telecast. They talk about his size and speed. He is a freak of nature in that regard. Thus it wouldn't do the articel justice if you put him or her on the cover half naked.

As for why didn't they choose anyone beside Lebron. It's simple if you follow sports. He is the world's most marketable athlete and has the best body in sports according to many.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

OK I DO NOT LIKE THIS COVER!!! Why can't he be in a nice suit and look civil? When I saw the pic, to me it does reflect a "King Kong stereotype"… La Bron probably doesn't care what people think, listened to his Publicist and saw he $$ signs and went for it… what people do for money!!!!


Muata said...

Reader LS Responds again:

Interesting the perception people take when looking at things. I suppose it goes back to self image/self hate. I don't see this as anything but a display of one of the world's most beautiful women and the world's greatest athlete.

The cover says world's top bodies. Could they have done it differently? Sure but Lebron obviously didn't mind it so what's the issue.

I don't think him in a nice suit would have done the article justice because first it's not liek Lebron is a universially attractive figure. They were talking about his body. What better way to show it than him in a familiar outfit doing what he does.

This is liek Martin's description of pool in the movie Boomerrang. Ridiculous.

This is a non issue. It's not like Lebron didn't have a choice. And when they mentioned all of the other players like Barkely and Rodman, please are you serious? It's Barkely and Rodman. bad boys. The cover should reflect that.

When I first saw the pic I was like, I wonder if Tom Brady was there and if Lebron got her number.


Muata said...

Two Readers agree with XXX:



I agree as well.


Muata said...

Reader Response:

I think we need to check ourselves and that sometimes we send mixed signals. I read this online a few days ago. After seeing the picture, I wondered if there was a different shot that could have been used. You know everything is done to make sells......look at all the attention Vogue is getting right now.


Muata said...

Reader PM responds to LS's response:

You nailed this Larikus. Let's move on. This REALLY is NOT SERIOUS!


Muata said...

Muata responds as some readers begin to 'dismiss' the issue:

The issue lies with us. Some of us are offended and we cannot dismiss the insult or pain the photo has created. Hypersensitivity is tied to emotion. Emotion typically leads many of us to over react. We are a damaged people. We are hurting, and we want to be respected - but fail at times to address the issue the white man has assembled through cultural destruction: The Man in the Mirror. We need to start over with a healing process that is directed by us, and not some white power structure. It is interesting that we dismiss this, the demeaning of black women, crime committed by us on us, and everything else associated with our pain - but NEVER address our self hatred. I find that to be sad!


Muata said...

Reader J Responds:

I think the controversy is absolutely hilarious!! Lebron is strong, mentally and physically! A fierce competitor on the court and an absolutely ruthless business man by all accounts! He is accumulating economic freedom and wealth just as quickly as he is accumulating points in the NBA, youngest to reach 10,000 points in the history of the league! It is estimated that he will be worth 3/4 of a billion dollars by 25 at his current pace, and possibly a billionaire by 30!! He is a monster!!

So for him to pose for a photo, showing emotion and tenacity does not suprise me! As far as Giselle...well people have to understand that Brazil does have similiar race problems as we do in this country! I have heard other black people refer to her as a woman of color because of her Brazilian heritage! But black folk in this country dont realize that although legal slavery ended in the good ole "USA" in 1865, it wasn't until 1888 that the practice was outlawed in Brazil! People that looked like Giselle weren't the slaves though! It was black folk, just like us that worked that sugar cane for the rum we still love

Giselle by all accounts, is a white girl!! But do you know of any white woman today that would be distressed by having a soon to be 30 year old black billionare with his arm draped around her tiny waist? If he was in a rap video, played repeatedly on networks owned by whites at all times of day, pouring rum or expensive champagne all over some young video hoochies
ass...NOTHING would be said!! It wouldn't matter if the video model was black, white, Brazillian, Puerto Rican, or Swedish...nothing would be said!!!!

So why all the fuss in this instance? Because Lebron is frightening and menacing to white america? He doesn't look like the wholesome, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, or Tiger Woods! Doesn't have those great smiles and non-threatening appearances of these "greats"!! The greats that either destroyed their families for white women (Michael) or nearly lost everything because he literally had to have a white woman at that moment (Kobe), or just decided to give half of his empire to one through marriage (Tiger)!!

Nah, Lebron looks like a Mandingo Warrior!! Huge frame, big nose, long sloping forehead pertruding jaw-line...BLACK MAN!! Is white america afraid because of
his looks? Simply put...hell no!! He can have any white girl he wants, he is accepted now..he is not rich, he is wealthy!!!! Black folks are the ones struggling with this issue because the most hypocritical folks on this planet
are black!!!

Accept me, allow me to assimilate into your culture and into your world white folks! Give me all the freedoms to choose the things that are near and dear to my life, just as you have! And once you do, I will behave just like you and criticize my brothers and sisters for exerting their rights to choose what they do with their lives, just as you did to us since the passing of the Civil Rights Act in 1968!!!!

Boy whitey sure trained us well!!


Muata said...

Reader J Responds again:

Thanks again for provoking some thought amongst us all!! I dont understand how a white boy can put on a monkey suit, pretend to be King Kong in an adult video and the white community ignores it and goes on about its business,
but we get hurt by a photo like this!

We cant heal, because we wont recognize whats wrong! Black folks aren't suffering physically or emotionally, its all mental and I have been telling you this all along!! Mental illness leads to phyical and emotional distress!! When we have a community that's up in arms about Imus and his comments, but says nothing about young black gang members that murder innocent people, to now include young white people, then I know that we are not mentally well!!!!


Muata said...

Reader JA responds to L Scott:

TO LARIKUS SCOTT & all that agree with his comments - you are right. Everyone has a right to their own opinion. But please, think about some things...

For the first time in history, we have significant leadership by black men in this country - one running for President and another recently appointed to be Govenor of New York. MAJOR moves for this country and for black men.

The LAST thing we need imposing on such positive turns is ignorant & yes racist pictures - VERY SUBTLE - but racist - belittling the INTEGRITY & BRILLIANCE of our black men. Despite the attack our black men have endured for centuries and the attacks they have brought upon themselves - THEY ARE STILL PHENOMENAL MEN and we HAVE TO STOP thinking or acting like ads or pictures like this Vogue mess is OK or it is not a big deal. IT IS A BIG DEAL. I personally am tired of the stereotypes. And you should be too!

Am I angry in writing this? No - just sick & tired of being sick and tired. GROW UP!! We may be living in the year 2008 - but the racist ignorance taught by generations past is still reigning. WAKE UP and stop acting like black folk have arrived or are not impacted by this ignorance depicted in Vogue! This garbage ranks right up there with the ignorance our black sisters faced at Rutgers University.


Muata said...

Reader L. Scott responds to JA:


First things first. The GOV of New York should not be a role model. He has had how many affairs? I mean geez if we are just that desperate as a people that we should be proud every time and of us get appointed to anything despite their moral conscious? Should we be proud that Kwame in Detroit is gonna get off from perjury? If you rejoice in that, all good. That's about as silly as some black being happy because Clarence Thomas was appointed judge. He fooled some of yall eh? lol

That article was not racist at all. If you read it there was nothing subtle about it. It did it's job. It got people talking about Vogue that never do. Do you read the magazine or no? I'd venture to say that you don't and that you haven't and you won't. Fine. But you shouldn't be so quick to jump to racism as the reason that they put Lebron on the cover. They picked several top athletes and top models who played sports before. Guess who was number 1? They put the top model and the top athlete on the front. The King Kong idea was a bit odd but racist? Please tell me that King Kong is not a symbol of racism.

And you seriously can't compare Vogue to Don Imus. That's offensive to the young girls and their coach. I do apologize that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. That's a very sad state. If you are sick and tired of stereotypes then you might want to move to mars. Stereotypes exist everywhere because most of them have some element of truth.

When you are resting from being sick and tired of being sick and tired do yourself a favor.


-L. Scott

Muata said...

Reader EJ Responds:

His name is King James in the basketball world; He is the most dominant player in the game; He plays baskettball. "King Kong aint got shyt on me"....You ever
heard that? The picture on vouge falls in line with all of that. The Rutgers women were not whores! How can you compare the two?


Muata said...

Muata interjects to bring the dialogue to an end:

Let's end this. Some of you are getting upset, and offended. And, a couple of you are being offensive and it is appears you are doing it intentionally. If that is the case, I don't appreciate it. Each person on this chain is important to me and I respect you all - I just ask that you do not use a platform I begin to take stabs at each other. Also, if you are taking purposeful shots you are the worst of us. Yes, I said it.


Muata said...

Reader PM Responds to Muata:

You don't have to take up for adults who passionately express their perspectives on a subject to one another. This dialogue is regarding a very passionate subject, race relations. Everybody participating would like to experience better race relations yet have different perspectives. We lose focus when our frustrations lead us to communicate to adults that they should "grow up" and that THEY, NOT THEIR PERSPECTIVE, is "AMONG THE WORST OF US".


Muata said...

Muata responds to PM again:

When you intentionally try to offend it is wrong. And, any one of us who is purposeful in offending is in my opinion the worst of us. It is disrespectful. What would you say about that white man who calls you a nigger? I will venture to say he is stupid, and is a poor representation for other white people thus he is the worst of them. PERIOD.

We disrespect each other but respect and tap dance for white folk who hate the sight of us! Blacks!


Muata said...

Reader LS Responds to Muata:

I agree with you but I don't think anyone one was offended. The REV made her point. No one agreed. AGAIN. Why does a woman get a pass? I merely gave a rebutal. It wasn't all nice but 100% real. Why open a forum and then censor it.


Muata said...

Muata responds to LS again:

She does not get a pass.

Not trying to censor, just don't won't anyone to be PURPOSELY hurtful and to use sarcasm to be a smart azz.


Muata said...

Muata has a question for LS, EJ, and PM:

I have a question though:

Have you asked yourself if you have a seed of hatred toward black women? Just think about this. Don't dismiss me or the question. In some regards we (a lot of black men) respond to women in ways that resembles hatred. Again, just think about it. I am currently addressing this with myself. Think about it, fellas.


Muata said...

LS responds to Muata's question but does not answer the question:

The woman told us to grow up and she gave a weak argument. I just asked her to read the article. Simple. It's all good. I won't defend myself and my love of black women over this debate. I don't have any ill will towards women but her comments were intended to insult. My comments were merely to refute her weak and emotional argument. Emotion inhibits reason.


Muata said...

Reader JA responds to LS's directive" "READ THE ARTICLE":

Perhaps you misunderstood my writing below - I referred to the BLACK GOVERNOR of New York that was JUST appointed on March 17th because the FORMER GOVERNOR was asked to resigned due to an illegal prostitution ring. And I NEVER spoke about Kwame in Detroit being released of his moral obligation to be truthful and legal responsibility to not lie under oath.

You know Larikus, you talk like the weak-minded. "They don't agree with me - so I am going to misquote and make-up stuff about what they said". You didn't get anything I wrote correct.

Misunderstood? - it happens to the best of us. Press on brother. And YOU remember - Reading is fundamental. Get the full facts before you start being critical and unnecessarily critical.


Muata said...

Reader Response from another blog site:

Can someone please pay attention to the caption under the picture. Lebron and Giselle are there to illustrate the best bodies. Why would he look any other way. Its a Fashion magazine and Giselle is a high end Fashion model. If Tyra was still an active model, its very well possible she would have made the cover. This is the problem with us as a race. We currently have an election going on, trying to put the 1st black man in office. But we choose to concentrate on something as trivial as a magazine photo. Thats exactly what the world wants. We want to be respected as a race and have our values and opinions mean something, but we are so easily distracted from whats important. Its so sad that this is actually getting this much attention.


Muata said...

Reader AR responds to Nikia:

I would certainly agree that there are more pressing issues for blacks, as a race, than who is on the cover of vogue. But that should not cause us to completely ignore the images that are used to portray us in e mass market. The inside of the magazine presents what might be called a more tasteful presentation of what the magazine says it is trying to examine; “… athletes, athletic prowess and healthy bodies.” Out of the hundreds of images that were probably taken for this photo shoot, this is te image of they chose to put on the cover. He is only the third man ever to grace te cover, period, and the first black, as well as the first athlete. Whether this is a conscious or subconscious decision. This cover says a great deal about the editors and designers of the magazine and how they feel about blacks, our society, and our collectively place in it. they may very well have designed the cover for the particular controversy and attention they are getting. How we respond determines how we define ourselves and how we choose our place in society. I agree that this issue should be given its appropriate level of priority in regards to the various problems we face, but to ignore it would be to allows others too free a hand in how we get portrayed in mass mediums.