My jaw hit the floor when I first got wind of the news: Vanity Fair had reproduced its controversial cover featuring a duo of naked Hollywood starlets -- but with men. The magazine, I'd heard, had Annie Leibovitz reproduce her original shot with a handful of leading actors. It can't possibly be true, I thought. Oh, but it is.
Except, uh, there are a couple minor differences? They aren't naked; instead, the quartet is covered up in beige body suits. Also, the male stars aren't exactly international sex symbols -- they're goofball comedians Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, Jonah Hill and Paul Rudd. Also, instead of making the cover, the photo is hidden inside the mag. Way to be edgy, Vanity Fair!
Look, I've never been a fan of the Judd Apatow clan's brand of we-can-joke-about-being-gay-because-eww-we-totally-aren't hilarity, which seems to be on display here. (Although "Freaks and Geeks," I will love you always.) So, it's no surprise that I saw the photo and immediately began grumbling about lame dude humor and Hollywood's double standards. That's why I tossed it to my fellow Broadsheeters for a more balanced round table.
Rebecca Traister: All this silliness does is amplify the point that men can become famous in Hollywood, and famous enough to be photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair, without having bodies that you want to see unclothed. There is not a similar path to success for Hollywood's women.
Sarah Hepola: OK, but honestly? I would like to see Paul Rudd unclothed.
Lynn: I was thinking the same thing, sistah friend!
Tracy Clark-Flory: Ditto.
Mary Elizabeth Williams: Between the hack work and the pawning of her photos, I guess Annie Leibovitz really is hard up. That this drivel is being peddled by the same woman who shot one of the most famous male nude photos ever -- the beautiful, vulnerable image of John Lennon curled up against Yoko Ono for Rolling Stone, just makes the whole business all the more cynical and pitiful.
Please. Parody something that's iconic and interesting and anybody gave a damn about the first time. But if you insist, for God's sake, have the cojones to show some cojones. (I will concede, however, that an unbuttoned Paul Rudd is never an entirely unwelcome image.)