Thursday, January 7, 2010
Yet Another Magazine Cover Controversy
Another day, another magazine cover controversy (See here for example of one I've discussed previously. It also features a prominent black athlete and pretty white girl. Coincidence?). This time the perpetrator is Essence and the offensive (to a number of black women) image is of Saints running back Reggie Bush with his shirt open. The fact that he’s showing off his abs isn’t at the root of the bruhaha, but rather, the fact that he’s there at all. Those unfamiliar with all things celebrity related might be wondering why a picture of a black man on the cover of a magazine with a black female audience is problematic. It’s not as if the cover boy is Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck. It isn’t even Michael Steele who technically has the melanin count if not the street cred to qualify, being an obnoxious conservative republican and all. So far as I’ve been able to tell, the thing bothering Essence subscribers/readers is that the focus of the issue is “black love” and Reggie is famously not romantically involved with a fellow African American at the moment. His girlfriend is Kim Kardashian who happens to be rather bootylicious, but she’s Armenian, not black. There is some logic to the irritation since one might reasonably if not always correctly conclude that a cover story called “black love” would be accompanied by a photograph of two black people in love. Technically the cover says "Black Men, Love and Relationships Issue" and obviously not every black man is in love or in a relationship with a black woman. So the reasoning for the annoyance is iffy at best. And if one's contention is that Reggie doesn't belong in Essence under any set of circumstances pertaining to his love life or desirability due to his being in an interracial relationship, I'd strenuously object to that theory. The editorial board of Essence (presumably black women dominate it, though not necessarily, I'm too lazy to check) made their decision to feature him for whatever reason, perhaps to stir up this very controversy and generate a few more news stand sales. Times are tough for magazines nowadays and controversy sells. As cover boys go there are certainly more objectionable black men to feature than Reggie Bush, regardless of who they happen to be dating or married to. R. Kelly and Chris Brown jump to mind as particularly bad choices. So far as I know Reggie is a decent enough guy even if he doesn't require that his mate be a rocket scientist. He’s famous, he’s black, he’s good looking and in great shape so therefore popular with the ladies, and he hasn’t been convicted or even accused of any heinous crimes or acts of depravity. If that doesn’t qualify you to be in Essence I have no idea what does. The fact that Reggie’s girlfriend is considered to be a celebrity in her own right may be ridiculous (go here to see what I mean), however that's neither the fault of her, Reggie or Essence, but the taste in entertainment of the American public. One need not look very far to find social issues to be concerned about or troubled by. As I see it, Reggie and Kim shouldn't rate very high in this category.