Oh, what troubled times we live in. As of today, we must now double check to make sure that all symbols of America are not wrapped up in some form of drama or another.
Yesterday, John Carney, an economics and finance editor for Breitbart, took to Twitter to criticize one of Vogue’s four September covers. “We’re going to have to create a full #MAGA shadow cultural industry because the Opposition Media can’t even do fashion without attacking us,” he wrote underneath Annie Leibovitz’s picture of Jennifer Lawrence in front of the Statue of Liberty. (In case you missed the news this week, there was an argument in the White House press room as to whether or not the administration’s proposed immigration reform is in line with the poem at the base of the statue, and now the whole country is divided on a 131 year-old gift from France.)
Naturally, this means that Vogue’s inclusion of the landmark is some kind of political jab. I know that fashion folk have a reputation for being passive aggressive and mean, but this claim is far too wild to be taken seriously. For one thing, the cover (as it was pointed out by the magazine’s communications director) was shot in June. Anna Wintour, even if she wanted to, does not have the power to create a cover starring a major celebrity and send it off to print in a week. (Creating a print magazine is slow, which is why the Internet is killing the industry.)
But this is the world we live in now. A controversy can be made out of something that is so deliberately uncontroversial it could be the visual definition of “safe” in The Idiot’s Guide to Making A Magazine. No, really. It’s an old wives' tale of magazine publishing that the best-selling covers are ones that feature blonde-haired, blue-eyed women wearing red, staring directly at the camera. Add in the fact that said woman is the down-to-earth everywoman (despite having an Academy Award and a Dior contract) Jennifer Lawrence, and you have a sure-fire hit. The statue’s inclusion is nothing more than a lazy attempt at patriotism. If there is anything worth criticizing about this Vogue cover, it is that it is an utter snoozefest.
In the spirit of giving credit where credit’s due, we should mention that the magazine itself features a standout profile on Chelsea Manning that is definitely a must-read. Imagine how powerful it would have been if she had been on the cover? Controversial? Sure. Divisive? Perhaps. Profitable? Probably, though perhaps not amongst Vogue’s core audience…but we digress.
In the meantime, Mr. Carney has not let basic facts like dates deter him from peddling this conspiracy, and has actually proposed the need for a right-wing fashion outlet. Please, youth of today—there is no need to be so reactionary. Take a moment to apply, at the very least, basic logic to your argument before posting it online, lest you accuse an entire publication of conspiring against you, somehow bending the rules of space and time in the process. But by all means, do retain your outrage at mediocrity, whether it be on the covers of magazines, or in Congress. Holding people accountable is the only way to truly make America (and American Vogue) great again.