Photo: VOGUE/Annie Leibovitz.
It's been a minute since Vogue released its April cover, and the polarizing consensus is love it or hate it. True to Wintour's form, a celebrity covered the publication, but Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are, apparently, not the celebrities the general public wants to celebrate. Wintour's editorial defense raises Kardashian as today's "courageous" icon — something Tina Brown, writer/editor/all-around woman's woman has choice words on.
In an op-ed published today on The Daily Beast, Brown takes issue with Wintour's praise and the "aspirational" qualities the cover and its subjects present. Claiming Vogue's head honcho may have "gone a little overboard" with her celebration, Brown's sermon takes the publication off its media pedestal. "The cover of Vogue is not exactly the Nobel Peace Prize," Brown writes. And, it's not. Though it rightly praises notable women around the globe, the cover is still just a cover.
Brown's point (and fabulous pivot in the Kimye/Vogue conversation) is that Vogue is not wrong in its cover selection and referring to the pair as "aspirational." She writes: "A Vogue cover is a mirror. Sometimes it’s a funhouse mirror, sometimes it’s Cinderella’s stepmother’s mirror, and sometimes — this time — it’s a mirror of our aspirations." What, then, do Kim Kardashian and Kanye West represent when viewed through the lens of cultural dreams? No-holds-barred self-promotion to get what we want? That's happening on a large scale with the rise of selfies. Vanity, egomania, and self-entitlement? Is that not what the millennial generation has been pigeon-holed into since the term "millennial" was coined?
Just yesterday, we dove into a Reddit thread about what kids are into these days. What was essentially cool 15 or 20 years ago is still cool today, only now it's pursued with a sense of irony, throwaway hashtags, and a self-awareness that's so heightened it reads as lacking. Aspirational does not mean a house, kids, and backyard for the dog to play in anymore. It also does not mean happiness (though "Pretty Hurts" would lead you to believe otherwise).
Our current definition of excellence, in Brown's eyes, is shifting more towards aspirations of celebrity. And, she's not saying that's a bad thing, necessarily. It just means a heightened sense of perspective is in order, to be aware of what it is we're shifting towards. Brown offers up some notable women in her essay, and will introduce more tonight at the Women in the World Summit. Really, she's suggesting we just own our icons and idols, and she gives a perfect example of how to start. (The Daily Beast)