Radar Magazine and Race

By Jorge Rivas Oct 22, 2007

Radar Magazine, an American online and print publication that features a mix of entertainment, fashion, politics, released this statement on the cover above:

“Candidates have become as manufactured as movie stars: coached on every aspect of their dress and demeanor, and supplied with perky sound-bites for spontaneous delivery on Letterman. Which is why, as we set out to plan the cover of Radar’s Politics issue, it seemed appropriate to do a little facile packaging of our own."

As an artist, I have a deep appreciation for social commentary through art—tasteful, tactful and responsible. And although I agree with Radar’s statement, their art-imitating-art knock off of Vanity Fair’s now-infamous 2006 Hollywood Issue cover fell short. The gender and racial implications of this cover are disturbing– just look at the placement and hierarchy of the candidates. At the highest point of the layout we have the white male (and the only candidate worthy of clothes), Guilliani, second to a nude Clinton– and at their feet a naked Black man, Obama, lying down! If the potential Presidential candidates were all white men, they’d be in suits. During the 2000 election, Al Gore and George Bush were shown in masks or comic strip satire. Even Schwarzenegger didn’t get the nude treatment and there were plenty of those to go around—no photoshop needed. Now, we finally have a woman and a Black man running and the first instinct is to objectify and hypersexualize. But what’s more shocking: this cover or that Barack Obama and Vice President Dick Cheney are cousins?