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Author Topic: 'African Queen' Editorial  (Read 1796 times)

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Offline Oniya

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #25 on: February 28, 2013, 03:18:52 PM »
I'm kindda bemused as to why someone with tanning/bronzing is black face. I thought it was common practice in certain parts of america.

Calling the model an african queen, though, that's painfully absurd.

The term 'black-face' is applied when a white person is using the color with the intent of appearing like a black person.  It derives from old minstrel shows when white actors would apply something about the consistency of shoe-polish to create black characters (usually portrayed as a derogatory caricature.)

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #26 on: February 28, 2013, 03:21:07 PM »
I know what it means, but to claim bronzer = boot polish?

Offline Avis habilis

Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #27 on: February 28, 2013, 03:28:52 PM »
Not exactly. In this case it wasn't just to look fashionably tan, it was flat-out FX altering her apparent ethnicity.

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #28 on: February 28, 2013, 03:45:59 PM »
Apparently not on set. The way the photographer apologised, it sounds like they were unaware of what the campaign would be titled. If the title was different, would what they did still be distasteful and wrong? I'm not defending the photos, it's just... people bronze themselves all the time.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2013, 03:58:19 PM »
People don't slather on bronzer an inch thick all the time. At that level of application, something else than just looking a little tan is going on. I don't know whether the photographer knew or not what the title of the editorial was going to be, but the model was right there in front of him wearing clearly African-styled costumes, so I don't think they have the excuse of not knowing how this was going to be read.

Numero's not helping themselves, either: their "apology" affords some more great examples of Derailment / Avoidance techniques. It's the classic passive-aggressive "we're sorry all you thin-skinned oversensitive people were offended" non-apology, stirred together with a teaspoon of "how dare you call us racist" and a tablespoon of "we have a number of black friends and they totally love us, so there" into a fine mess of self-pity that only adds to the offense of the original incident. Seems to me that if they were going to say "we stand by our article," they should have just said so.

Offline Avis habilis

Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #30 on: February 28, 2013, 03:58:58 PM »
... people bronze themselves all the time.

True enough, but if they wanted a person with that skin tone to go with those outfits, surely they could have found an actual black model for the shoot. From what I hear not-Caucasian models have a hard enough time finding work.

I mean, look at the girl - to my eye she's not just tan, she's practically painted mahogany.

Offline Caeli

Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #31 on: February 28, 2013, 04:15:02 PM »
As Cyrano points out, the editorial was meant to use Middle Eastern and Morrocan fashions as inspiration. Images can be seen here in larger sizes.

To me, it's clear that Kim wanted someone of a specific skin tone to wear these outfits, and he wanted a specific ethnic fashion to be represented. If that was the case, then why not hire an African American model instead? If he was artistically seeking an "ethnic" look, I'm sure that the agency representing Hardin had several African American models who could have been considered. Because he was deliberately seeking to use makeup to not just darken her skin tone, but alter her apparent ethnicity - yes, I call this blackface. Maybe he didn't intend it in that manner, but this is essentially what he did.

The argument above can be made regardless of the title of the editorial. The fact that it was titled 'African Queen' only makes the slap in the face harder.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2013, 04:21:14 PM by Caeli »

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #32 on: February 28, 2013, 04:15:48 PM »
People don't slather on bronzer an inch thick all the time.

Having been on several photoshoots, behind the scenes, I can tell you, yeah. They do. Every model has make up applied with an air brush on every bit of exposed skin. To my experience, though, the reason why these images look the way they do is post production, through the magic with photoshop and some cruddy filters. I'd be interested to see some pictures that weren't post-edited.

True enough, but if they wanted a person with that skin tone to go with those outfits, surely they could have found an actual black model for the shoot. From what I hear not-Caucasian models have a hard enough time finding work.

I mean, look at the girl - to my eye she's not just tan, she's practically painted mahogany.

Given that these sorts of photoshoots don't pay the model or behind the scenes crew, it's not a financial loss for whoever might have taken this model's place. I agree they should have used someone of the right skin colour.

Caelie, she's 16, might want to use a link instead.

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #33 on: February 28, 2013, 04:22:30 PM »
Having been on several photoshoots, behind the scenes, I can tell you, yeah. They do.

Fair enough. Strictly-speaking, it is entirely possible that regular shoots involve an inch of bronzer, I'll defer to your experience. Point being it is not normal to take it to the point of blacking the model up. Whether it was done with bronzer or in post-production is not of as much interest in the greater scheme of things as the fact that it was done; it may simply mean that someone other than the photographer was directly responsible, I don't know that photographers have much say in post-production work.

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #34 on: February 28, 2013, 04:40:04 PM »
Yeah, the bronzed-into-black is very "whut" invoking. The reason why I'd be interested in when the darkening took place would be so I could know if the photographer and model were in on it or if they were innocent. It wouldn't effect that it happened.

It's happened before, too, in Vogue.



 

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #35 on: February 28, 2013, 04:52:17 PM »
Wow, that example from Vogue is even worse.

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #36 on: February 28, 2013, 04:54:22 PM »
How is it worse to blackface someone of African decent rather than middle eastern decent? They are both bad, but why is Vogue's more so?

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #37 on: February 28, 2013, 04:55:24 PM »
Because that is more true to black face than the Africa Queen spread was in my view..

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #38 on: February 28, 2013, 05:06:47 PM »
How is it worse to blackface someone of African decent rather than middle eastern decent? They are both bad, but why is Vogue's more so?

Aside from the photos just looking worse for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, Vogue was even ballsier in calling an entire issue their "Women of Color" issue and then having no women of color appear in its pages... plus a blackface spread to boot.

Offline Dim Hon

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #39 on: February 28, 2013, 05:11:09 PM »
Aside from the photos just looking worse for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, Vogue was even ballsier in calling an entire issue their "Women of Color" issue and then having no women of color appear in its pages... plus a blackface spread to boot.

Okay, now my disgust for Vogue has reached a new level.

Offline Oniya

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #40 on: February 28, 2013, 05:18:07 PM »
Because that is more true to black face than the Africa Queen spread was in my view..

I think the Numero photographer (or the makeup director) at least gave the model brown contact lenses.  The Vogue magazine didn't even try.  The model in the Vogue spread looks more artificially colored than the Numero one as a result.

Offline Caehlim

Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #41 on: March 04, 2013, 06:13:45 AM »
I hate these discussions. Ideologically I believe that we should be blind to colour and that anyone should be allowed to be an "African Queen" if that's what they fancy.

... And yet as much as I wish that's the way the world worked, from a practical perspective I just don't think it's good enough. I think the years of abuse have made wounds too deep for us to gloss over now with colour-blindness, at least not until some of those wounds have healed.

In short I don't know how I feel about these things but that picture bugged me, the same way the cast of Avatar: The Last Airbender did. You have this perfect opportunity to employ a diverse cast or a model of a different racial background and instead they waste it on yet another white model.

Edit: Just a random question. Would anyone care about a white model playing the role of 'African Queen' if the rest of the issue had given plenty of opportunities to black models playing a variety of different (non-typecast) roles themselves? I know I wouldn't.

I don't think the problem is that a white model is playing an african queen. I think the problem is that black models are so under-represented that they're deprived when they're not given the typecast role. That just sucks.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2013, 06:22:58 AM by Caehlim »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #42 on: March 04, 2013, 10:55:42 AM »
I'd say it's problematic in both ways. People of colour are grossly underrepresented in a lot of places, including fashion. Using a white model here is almost certainly denying work to someone who has to fight for it in the first place. But leaving that aside... no. Appropriating the culture of a minority with a long and continuing history of oppression is Not Cool. Especially when you're making the all-too-common mistake of treating all of Africa - an entire continent, remember! - as a monolithic culture. This is a form of erasure that happens depressingly often - it's rare to see Africa's existence acknowledged in the first place, and when it is, all of its diverse cultures are glossed over into a single bland mass.

Offline Caehlim

Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #43 on: March 05, 2013, 06:24:11 AM »
Especially when you're making the all-too-common mistake of treating all of Africa - an entire continent, remember! - as a monolithic culture. This is a form of erasure that happens depressingly often - it's rare to see Africa's existence acknowledged in the first place, and when it is, all of its diverse cultures are glossed over into a single bland mass.

While that's true, I'd say it also happens to everyone. People out here in the rest of the world think of the U.S.A. as a single monolith, despite the fact that Texas and Massachusetts are quite different. South America is lucky if people realize that it's a different place from Central America. Europe is balled up into a single entity as is Asia or the middle east. 

When you think about Australia, what do you imagine? We're an entire continent too, but I doubt most people's conception of us takes into account the difference in culture between the miners of Mt Isa, the farmers of Karlgarin, the city-slickers of Sydney or the hospitality workers of the Gold Coast. If they're aware of the existence of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders of Australia, have they considered the difference between the Ngarrindjeri people and the Kaurna people?

Edit: This reminded me of something from work the other day. We were having a really hot day and one of my Indian co-workers commented that she wasn't used to this sort of heat. Another person there asked "Aren't you from India?" and the Indian woman looked quite shocked before explaining "I'm from the part of India near the mountains where it's cold. It's a big country."
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 06:30:12 AM by Caehlim »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #44 on: March 05, 2013, 10:30:21 PM »
While that's true, I'd say it also happens to everyone. People out here in the rest of the world think of the U.S.A. as a single monolith, despite the fact that Texas and Massachusetts are quite different. South America is lucky if people realize that it's a different place from Central America. Europe is balled up into a single entity as is Asia or the middle east.

I'd argue not to the same degree. Without seriously thinking, resorting to the most broad-strokes stereotypes that jump to mind, I could think of at least two for every one of your examples, and generally significantly more. Africa gets one. I can think of one book that I didn't have to seek out that treated Africa as anything other than a single homogenous culture. Anecdotes != data, and I'll concede the position if it turns out my experience is atypical, but... is it really?

(Yes, I'm including Australia here. You make a point in that outsiders never get the full picture, but my argument is that Africa is special in getting a single particular picture time and time again from countless places.)

Edit: This reminded me of something from work the other day. We were having a really hot day and one of my Indian co-workers commented that she wasn't used to this sort of heat. Another person there asked "Aren't you from India?" and the Indian woman looked quite shocked before explaining "I'm from the part of India near the mountains where it's cold. It's a big country."

Heh! Now that's just beautiful.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 10:32:49 PM by Ephiral »

Offline Caehlim

Re: 'African Queen' Editorial
« Reply #45 on: March 06, 2013, 08:39:47 AM »
Yeah I think you have a point Ephiral. Africa does probably get it worse than anywhere else for that.