Monday, January 11, 2010

A new low in coverage of Tiger Vanity Fair?

The cover on the latest Vanity Fair, which includes a story by Buzz Bissinger with sordid details about Tiger Woods' extramarital affairs, plays so baldly to racist stereotypes about black, male athletes that the infamous 2008 Vogue cover pales in comparison. A shirtless, sweaty Woods (in skull cap, staring blankly at the camera) is typical of images of African-American athletes, playing to the stereotype of dark-skinned men as hypersexual, deviant and -- to use the magazine's coverline about Woods -- "raw."
Woods -- for all his flaws -- seemed to understand the (negative) power of these kinds of images, as evidenced in his advice to Charles Barkley years ago to avoid a controversial shirtless cover in Sports Illustrated.
It's surprising, then, that Woods posed for these pictures -- but the fact that they were for famous photographer-of-the-stars Annie Leibovitz a number of years ago likely had something to do with the decision. It's regrettable that VF decided to strategically dredge up these photos now, in a context that makes them even more stereotypically potent.
-- Marie Hardin

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