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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: How many things can you find wrong with the cover of Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue?

Vanity Fair’s annual Hollywood issue is out, with the its traditional cover featuring young talent on the rise. The selection of actors and the way they’re photographed always comes under massive scrutiny and complaint, and the ritual is in full swing this year. First, here’s the cover:
Vanity Fair Hollywood cover 2012

(Click here for a full size version.)

The thing that strikes me most is what Crushable points out, that the actresses are “virtually unrecognizable”:

[T]he makeup artist went way overboard on the smoky eyes and red lips. The eleven young actresses all look beautiful, but they also look interchangeable. Really, it’s impossible to identify more than one or two of them without scrutinizing it really closely.

This would just seem to highlight the fact that has underscored the notion of “the Hollywood starlet” from the beginnings of Hollywood: actresses should be mostly interchangeable. There’s certainly no point in standing out and being different when the roles available to women are mostly as furniture anyway.

Crushable’s cheat sheet on who’s who:

I’m gonna tell you who’s in each panel, and I bet it’ll surprise you. Left panel: Rooney Mara, Jennifer Lawrence, Mia Wasikowska, and Jessica Chastain—these ladies are all mostly recognizable since two are Oscar-nominated, but I was sure that Mia was actually Amber Heard.

Middle panel: Elizabeth Olsen, Adepero Oduye, and Shailene Woodley. You would never have realized that was the tiny Descendants/Secret Life of the American Teenager star, right? Maybe it’s her head tilted almost ninety degrees, but the look just overwhelms her.

Right panel: Paula Patton, Felicity Jones, Lily Collins, and Brit Marling. Honestly, Felicity and Lily look almost identical, and I was sure that Brit — who I’ve interviewed in person and who comes across as very down-to-earth — was Castle’s Stana Katic.

Chicology notes that the cover is “very white, very thin”:

Do you think Vanity Fair purposefully left out Octavia Spencer (or better yet, Melissa McCarthy) due to her weight?

The Improper runs down a list of names that might have been included in the shoot:

[I]f being a breakout star is a criteria what about Emily Browning, 23, who starred in the mesmerizing movie “Sleeping Beauty.” Also a surprise miss is Emma Roberts, 20, who was crazy good in “The Art of Getting By,” and “Scream 4.”

Missed but maybe also falling into the “already established” category is Ellen Page, 24, who was awesome in “Inception;” Ashley Greene, 24, for her work in “Twilight;” Emma Watson, 21, for “Harry Potter” and Amanda Seyfried.

Also where is Olivia Wilde from “Cowboys and Aliens?” At 27, she may skew a little too old for this group, but that would be the only excuse not to have included her.

Overlooked but should have been included stars: Elle Fanning, Abigail Breslin, Chloe Moretz and Hailee Steinfeld. Sure, they are all underage, but still doing great film work.

Jezebel can’t help but notice that black actresses have been pushed aside once again:

Pariah‘s Adepero Oduye and Mission Impossible‘s Paula Patton are the only two ladies of color, and they are not on the power panel, but on the right two-thirds of the cover, which is folded up and tucked away when on newsstands.

This cover is an improvement from the 2010 Young Hollywood cover, which only featured white actresses. But it upholds the unfortunate tradition of shoving the people of color to the right and off if the main panel. Something Vanity Fair has been doing for years.

(And click over to Jezebel to see years’ worth of examples.)

How many things can you find wrong with the cover of Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue? Which nonwhite or nonthin actresses would you have included in the mix? Do you like the anonymizing makeup? What else strikes you as not quite right about the cover?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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