The Decline Of Vanity Fair
For the second year in a row, Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue features a photo shoot that includes naked woman and fully-clothed men. This year’s March issue is for a story on The Sopranos, breathlessly hyped on the cover as the “best show in TV history.” Umm…hyperbole, anyone?
On the fully-dressed Tony Soprano’s lap is a nude woman, her face turned away from the camera. On Tony’s left is one of the other male characters, also fully dressed.
Last year’s Hollywood issue featured Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley nude on the cover with the issue’s guest creative director, Tom Ford, who was fully clothed. Rachel McAdams was also supposed to be on the cover, but she declined to appear nude. Anyway, that issue generated a lot of attention for its approach, most of it negative, so it’s surprising that Graydon Carter decided to reprise the approach this year.
There’s always been a sort of sleazy, misogynistic side of Hollywood culture—it’s a worldview and it’s very distinct and it pervades the movie business at a certain level. It seems to me that in the last several years Vanity Fair has to an increasing extent become about that aspect of Hollywood rather than the sometimes-transcendent art that the industry also creates.
Maybe it’s just me, but I used to look to Vanity Fair for great reporting and stories that offered new and valuable perspective. I used to view Graydon Carter as one of the great journalists of his time—he created Spy and he made Vanity Fair a profitable business where even Tina Brown did not. Now Vanity Fair is too often about shameless movie-star puffery. And I have a hard time getting beyond its dirty-old-man covers.