a meditation on VOGUE, kanye, kim, covers, sarah michelle gellar, and the american dream

so do you know about this? given the number of friends who have asked me for an explanation, it seems the majority of us are at least reading headlines and sarah michelle geller’s tweet.

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 9.01.17 AM

so let’s back up a bit.

firstly, this happened:

vogue cover

which, given all the other things happening in the world, seems rather minor, but which also- given our apparent need as modern human beings to always be in a state of hysterical crisis over something- is, i suppose now, being manufactured into a huge big deal.

let’s start with good things…

(and yes, there’s a whole quagmire of problems re: vogue here i’mma gloss- chief among them that minorities are notoriously underrepresented on its covers.)

like, this is a depiction of an african-american man that is millions of times better than the 2008 lebron cover


and the kimye vogue also depicts an interracial couple, which is- still, sadly- a huge big deal.

ok, back to why this is the end of the world.


that’s, in part, due to all of these other things that did or didn’t happen before, which gave us a previously manufactured narrative of ‘anna wintour don’t want anything to do with kim kardashian.’

"PUNK: Chaos To Couture" Costume Institute Galathat narrative dates from the met ball last spring. you know, the one where the punkiest thing about gwynnie was that she said- in a vair vair uh-mazing interview– that it was hot and sweaty and all the plebs were there.

presumably that included…


which we might not know had we consulted vogue‘s slideshow of the event…


thus, the ‘anna wintour hates kim kardashian’ narrative was born.

along with this narrative came the ‘kanye is determined to get kim on the cover of vogue‘ narrative.

via perez hilton

via perez hilton

for those with an ear to the ground of gossip, there’ve been rumblings about a kim vogue cover for months. in october,  kanye told ryan seacrest ‘there’s no way Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be on the cover of Vogue.’ in november, page six reported he was ‘pushing hard’ for a cover, because she was more relevant than michelle obama, who’s made the cover twice.


(an assertion i’ll contest with all my might  because FLOTUS > the kardashians forever and always. though i can also see how this would play out in kanye’s head as michelle’s just married to the president whilst kim is engaged to yeezus and presumably, for him, yeezus > POTUS forever and always so there you go.)

so the question then was whether anna wintour would hold out against kanye. remember anna wintour?


perhaps she is more recognizable as this…


or from here…

sept issue

so, basically, in this scenario, anna wintour was the bulwark standing between us (as americans? as snobs? as human beings? idk) and the legitimization of kim kardashian as a person of cultural significance.

which seems a rather moot point when you consider that blake lively’s been on the cover of vogue twice…

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 9.27.35 AM

and her only cultural contribution, thus far, has been gossip girl.

blake Alone-blake-lively-blonde-girl-gossip-girl-gif

blake 2

so people (SMG, in particular), perhaps we were expecting a little too much from vogue?

regardless, somehow the inclusion of kim kardashian on the cover has become a tipping point for what, i imagine, is a relatively small number of people when compared to the fuss being made (primarily on twitter, and then repeated by the media as a legitimate news story about there being a fuss on twitter).


wintour apparently anticipated the drama, as she takes pains in her editor’s letter in the issue, to defend the cover (there seems to be confusion as to whether this was a statement or is, in fact, her editor’s letter… i’mma go with that):

‘Part of the pleasure of editing Vogue, one that lies in a long tradition of this magazine, is being able to feature those who define the culture at any given moment, who stir things up, whose presence in the world shapes the way it looks and influences the way we see it. I think we can all agree on the fact that that role is currently being played by Kim and Kanye to a T.’

she also tries to kill the pre-existing narrative, writing, ‘You may have read that Kanye begged me to put his fiancée on Vogue‘s cover. He did nothing of the sort. The gossip might make better reading, but the simple fact of the matter is that it isn’t true.’

via perez hilton

via perez hilton

in her justification, this is particularly tantalizing: ‘Kim, through her strength of character, has created a place for herself in the glare of the world’s spotlight, and it takes real guts to do that.’ given that kardashian’s notoriety largely comes from being paris hilton’s best friend and having had a publicly released sex tape.
paris and kimnow’s probably as good a time as ever to ask the obvious question: why do we expect so much from vogue???

and also to state the obvious fact: which is that vogue in no way represents real life.


it’s a magazine about haute couture and it’s characterized by the same things that make haute couture so beguiling: its exclusivity, and the fact that it’s something to which we can aspire but are unlikely to attain.

the furor surrounding the inclusion of kim kardashian on the cover of vogue seems to be about the puncturing of that exclusivity. the sense that if kim kardashian can get in then anyone can. which is pretty much the american dream, non?


so why’s everyone against it?

does it really come down to the sense that, in a society where suddenly everyone can be famous, everyone can be a star- on twitter or facebook or instagram or the internet at-large- vogue was seen (by, admittedly, a very select and privileged few) as the last remaining bastion, the last place this sense of ‘everyone’s a celebrity’ hadn’t infiltrated?

Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 10.07.15 AM Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 10.08.05 AM

and does kim kardashian’s appearance in its pages represent that era’s end?

i’ve nothing but questions, no answers. but if we go by the platitude that our thoughts about celebrities often tell us more about ourselves than about them, then what does the fact that kim kardashian’s landing the cover of vogue incited such a frenzy say about us?

she’s obviously not going away. she is possibly maybe even the future. so perhaps it’s time we start thinking seriously about what that means…


10 thoughts on “a meditation on VOGUE, kanye, kim, covers, sarah michelle gellar, and the american dream

  1. This is very interesting. I often think its strange the way people rail against the crass and petty editorial decisions of popular media as though they were something other than advert-fueled profit engines. Ms. Kardashian, almost certainly for worse, fascinates our collective unconscious lately. To talk of her strength of character can only be disingenuous begging off from Wintour, I’m sure, since she, Kardashian, is quite evidently a profoundly shallow person. That Mr. West claims she is more important than Michelle Obama is, to be obvious, beneath acknowledgement except as an illustration of his own stupefying narcissism, which ostensibly leads him to hypostosize the rewards of glamour and elevate them to the level of meted cosmic justice. As though it could possibly matter who wins a VMA or who shows up on the cover of Vogue. The only sensible conversation to have about such things is, as you practice here, to wonder why we bother to talk about these things at all. As you say: we crave crisis and we’re not above manufacturing it. Or, as the case may be and is, we invest vacuum with gravity to distract ourselves from the weight of real and genuine crises, like the sleeping mind makes anxious dreams to capture our troubles and put them in a manageable, and ultimately dismissable form.

    Or something. In any case, thanks for the engaging post.

    • thank you. i sometimes feel rather inept saying that there’s really nothing to do but to interrogate the reasons why we’re annoyed by something or talking about it- seems an intellectual throwing up of the hands, one i fall back on time and time again- but, in the end, it truly is the most profitable dialogue to be having in the midst of so much manufactured nonsense. why do these (admittedly, at times terribly, trite) things matter so much and elicit such attention when there are so many things that matter so much more that we willfully overlook? blurgh. that said, i really appreciate that you referred to everyone as ms. and mr. in this comment, like we’re living in the new york times!

  2. Pingback: girl fight! (ie. the resurfacing of the ‘victoria beckham really wants to be on US vogue and anna wintour ain’t ever gonna let her’ narrative after the kanye/kim vogue) | finding jackie

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  5. I’m no fan of Ms. Kardashian (I also want to live in the NYT, but only briefly), I’m not sure why my girl SMG was so upset. B-list actress criticizing reality star seems silly. C’mon girl your in your 30’s, time we left high school behind. Jealousy is a green eyed monster. Beyond building a brand for herself, Kim has always been able to afford the clothes in Vogue it’s not like she’s new money. (plus the sex tape was so 2007, crazy)

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