Every year, Vanity Fair does a fold-out cover for their Hollywood Issue. The issue traditionally comes out right around the Oscars, and features some of the year’s biggest players. Here’s what the cover looked last year:
10 actors, eight of whom are white, none of whom were over 40. (Amy Adams was 40 at the time, and the oldest actor on the cover.) Here’s what this year’s cover, released today, looks like:
While most of these women are putting on their borderline lackluster Very Serious Faces, I like to imagine that’s because Annie Liebovitz was playing with the unofficial theme Bored With the Patriarchy. Oh, except for Diane Keaton, off in the corner, refusing to be anything but amused with herself and life.
This isn’t the first time the Hollywood issue has featured all women, but in the past, these issues have been limited to ingenues and bombshells, with the occasional Streep or Jane Fonda thrown in.
The women on this year’s cover range in age from 21 to 78, and they include Hollywood longstanding legends and powerhouses of all ages. While their is a lot of sexiness on that cover, the tone is not sexual. It is not coy or “fresh” or any of the other descriptors all-female covers tend to get. These women are powerful. (Even Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who for some reason looks like she may be on the verge of fear-weeping.)
The comments on the Vanity Fair Facebook page (never read those, by the way) are full of cries of “WHERE’S MERYL?” This is valid; of course we’re going to wonder why a cover celebrating women of all ages in Hollywood wouldn’t include Meryl Streep. Except that she is usually the ONLY woman representing women of a certain age in this industry. That’s why Russell Crowe can stupidly tokenize her and hold her up as an example of why it’s not really that bad for women, you can still totally have a career that lasts your whole life. Meryl can doit! So can you! Tina and Amy get it.
This cover does not mean that ageism or sexism in Hollywood is fixed. Just like the inclusion of three black women doesn’t mean racism in Hollywood is fixed. But it’s a step in a great direction, towards an industry I think we all want to see, away from the current one where the only women on a cover are young starlets, the only woman of color on a cover is the token sexy pigeonholed bombshell, and the only exception is Meryl Streep.