Academic Tyra

smh at Vogue’s Hurricane Sandy photo shoot

Y’all have probs heard about Vogue’s latest shoot using models and Hurricane Sandy relief workers. My first reaction:

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Of course, Vogue has a history of rilly, rilly problematic photo shoots: glamorizing oil spillscolonial nostalgiathe insufferable Kiera Knightley - it’s always something!

The images themselves are pretty standard fare in the world of fashion photography: 

1. Juxtaposition of working class/upper class. Juxtapositon of hard/soft. Elevation of luxury goods to deity-like status.

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2. Juxtaposition of traditional notions of masculine/feminine.

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3. Fetishizing surveillance and militarization. The police state is gonna be hawt, you guyz. PS: Anyone else shocked at the lack of aviator sunglasses here?

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4. Plugging destination weddings. God, wedding shit is EVERYWHERE!

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But aside from overpriced, boring clothes and predictable compositions from photog Annie Liebovitz (who probs needed to make a mortgage payment or something), there’s definitely some fucked up stuff going on here. Using real-life disaster workers of an ongoing, underfunded crisis to sell luxury goods while the economy still falters and social services repeatedly face austerity cuts is NOT COOL.

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But the thing that is actually kind of mindblowing is the way these images situate the working class subject as set pieces while simultaneously relying on them to communicate the power and efficacy of the state, in the process obscuring the incredible incompetence of systemic government responses to Hurricane Sandy (and disaster relief in general, obvi). 

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We know that cultural mechanisms - fashion mags, ex - do the ideological work to uphold existing political and cultural systems. So I wanna be all:

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The sad thing is, Vogue is totally doing its job here. This actually makes perfect sense.

We love critical theory and, not gonna lie, we also love shiny things and we struggle to hold both of those things sometimes.

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