Each year, as other representations of our melting pot try to rise in the ranks of Hollywood, there is the weight of the status quo to contend with. Magazines need to sell because by now they are all fighting for their lives. They go with the sure bet most of the time. They want to be the defining statement of the Oscar race, the glamour, the “Hollywood issue.” Last year’s cover, like last year’s Oscars, was mostly diverse. Oscar did not honor Idris Elba or anyone involved in Fruitvale Station but at least the publicists were on top of it anticipating those Oscar nominations.
The same way that Oscar snapped right back to business as usual, Vanity Fair did follow with this cover:
When I look at that cover I see the hard work of Oscar strategists: Sony, Fox Searchlight and Weinstein Co. get the cover, then Focus, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony Pictures Classics. They represent the earlier part of the race because this stuff has to be planned way in advance, hence only one out of the three on the cover nominated, and only four out of ten nominated overall. They hoped to be nominated and they each star in films that are represented in some way in the race. I guess they are supposed to sell well and that’s why they’re on the cover.
This is how the United States breaks down in terms of demographics:
For Vanity Fair it is supposedly a bottom line issue. Capitalist driven culture chases the dollar – it has to. They use this excuse selectively — look at how popular the Superbowl was. Did you see all white faces throwing the football around? The Grammys always have high ratings. Do those faces look at white to you? The gossip sites are richly slathered with the Kardashians 24/7, Beyonce, Kanye – a variety of different kinds of stars draw major traffic based not on that one rigid standard but on a freer one. The truth is that this power dynamic is really only excluded to the so-called “Hollywood glamour” and how that continues to be defined, after eight decades of Oscar setting the bar for what defines that glamour.