“Vanity Fair” has a young, white Hollywood


Vanity Fair caused a controversial splash in the blogosphere yesterday when they released photos from their annual “Young White,” er, I mean “Young Hollywood” issue. The images are conspicuously thin and pale, and the cover has en eerie time-warp component to it — as if the entire group is lounging on the lawn between English Lit and Home Economics at an all-girls boarding school in 1953.

Even the descriptions of the actresses are oddly Eisenhower. Abbie Cornish has “downy-soft cheeks [and a] the button nose.” Patricia Hall has “patrician looks and celebrated pedigree.” Amanda Seyfried exhibits “dewy, wide-eyed loveliness.”

Kristen Stewart is the only actress in the group who could win Sesame Street‘s “One Of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)” game, mostly because she just looks bored out of her mind. (Interestingly, Vanity Fair calls her a “tough-minded, no-frills anomaly.”)

But the real question isn’t “What’s up with the vestal imagery?” It’s “Where are the women of color?”

Noticeably absent is Precious star Gabourey Sidibe, who was nominated for both a Golden Globe and an Oscar this year. (Anna Kendrick, who was similarly nominated, made the list.)

The complicated thing about “Young Hollywood” is that there’s no singular organization at which we can point our finger. Gabourey Sidibe , at least, feels like a blatant exclusion, but in all fairness, there were very few breakout roles in 2009 for women of color. Certainly Vanity Fair should diversify — if that diversity is representative of Hollywood. Sadly, it’s not. And that’s an even larger issue.

Even so, there were a few young women of color who caught our eye this year, and could have been considered for the list.

Clockwise from top left: Gabourey Sidibe, Alia Shawkat, Jamie Chung, Nicole Beharie

Alia Shawkat, who is of Iraqi descent on her father’s side, had a breakout year with Whip It and Amreeka. She’s co-starring in The Runaways this year, and the Arrested Development movie is rumored to be well on its way to having a script. Jamie Chung was in three feature films in 2009, and is in three more that are slated for release in 2010. Nicole Beharie has received acclaim for both American Violet and The Express: The Ernie Davis Story.

Zoe Saldana would seem like a weird exclusion too, but at 30, she’s a not young by Hollywood’s standard. (A tough blow to my ego, since I just turned 31!)

Hopefully Vanity Fair‘s definition of “Young Hollywood” isn’t the same as “Future Hollywood.” If so, it’s going to be an awfully boring place.

What do you think of VF‘s “Young Hollywood” issue?

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