December 23rd, 2009
So there’s this photo…
…shot by famed celebrity photographer and surrealist David LaChapelle for the released-just-in-time-for-Christmas deluxe edition of Lady Gaga’s Fame Monster.
Random thoughts that went through my head upon first laying eyes upon it:
Whoa, Lady Gaga’s nekkid. You can almost see her naughty bits. Damn, that’s quite a six-pack Kanye’s rockin’. Nice volcano action — are they in the Philippines? Wait a minute, something’s not right here … Lady Gaga’s torso seems strangely elongated. And Kanye’s arms seem, I dunno, not right. Looks like some serious Photoshop action happened here. LaChapelle’s pretty great, though, I love that shot he did of Brittany Murphy. Awww…Brittany Murphy. Sad. Anyway, what’s with Kanye’s crazy looking eyes? He almost looks like an extra from the KISS “I Love It Loud” video. Actually, coming out of the jungle like that, all barefoot and khaki-d up, it looks like he’s on some Rambo trip. Hmmm, okay … I can’t be the only one to spy some sorta race kinda thing goin’ on here. Is LaChapelle turning the whole white-man-as-hero motif on its head? Or maybe he’s stirring things up, playing off some of society’s lingering Native Son/Bigger Thomas/”the big black man making off with the helpless white woman” fears. Or maybe LaChapelle’s toying with the idea of Kanye as wrecker-of-young-white-pop-starlet’s dreams, portraying him as savior instead, although who knows for sure if this photo was shot pre- or post-Taylor Swift? Lemme see what others are saying online … ahh, is Kanye being portrayed here as “the magic negro”? Or, as Spike Lee once put it, the “super-duper magical negro” — the stereotypical cinematic black character (think Michael Clarke Duncan in The Green Mile; Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost) who helps out the white people in their time of peril? Hmmm … could be? Is LaChapelle mocking the stereotype or playing into the stereotype? I’d guess the former — he’s a pretty sharp guy. But he’s not talking about this photo. Yet. That’s the beauty of art, isn’t it? We can all look at it and interpret it in our own ways and discuss it. Then again, when you ask people to caption the photo on Twitter, you get things like this: “@urbanledjen: Tiger..one of yo white bitches tried to escape!!”