Digital Media Prompt Due Tuesday 1/29 by 5pm

Digital Media Prompt Due Tuesday 1/29 by 5pm:

Please read  Vogue Features Hurricane Sandy Fashion Spread and the hot links within the article. Visit Vogue’s Facebook page and the viewer’s comments specifically addressing this controversial photo narrative (See Jan. 16 post.)

Please select one or two comments from the Facebook dialogue to share with the class (perhaps comments that support or oppose your own view on the subject.) Post your selected comments along with your own (brief) reaction to this feature in a reply below (use the comment link.)

You may want to consider the visual and political rhetoric associated with this piece, as well as the impact (if any) of the digital distribution of the images.

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35 Responses to Digital Media Prompt Due Tuesday 1/29 by 5pm

  1. Elana says:

    My comment: Although this spread is creative and “artsy”, I think it is a little inappropriate and disrespectful to those effected by Hurricane Sandy. The models take away from the attention and applause that the volunteers should receive. The spread should have solely featured the volunteers and their efforts instead of the high end fashion.

    Facebook comment #1: Tara June Winch- Dressed up in the best New York collections? To the blue collars in this photograph I hope you at least got a tote bag – this is a lame way of highlighting the aftermath of tragic circumstances: leave this imagery to press photographers.

    I agree, these photos did not highlight the aftermath of the hurricane at all. Everything was posed and looked as if the scenes were created just for the photo shoot. The photos did not capture the real destruction that the hurricane created.

    Facebook comment #2: Fayza A. Elmostehi -Tasteless. Egregious wealth juxtaposed with human loss isn’t fashionable. Ever.

    Nice play on words 🙂

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Elana,
      You raise an interesting question in your response to Vogue’s piece, which might be: does “creative & artsy” photography have an appropriate place in the representation of trauma?

  2. knkern94 says:

    Although I can respect the artistic vision for this article and photoshoot (mixing high-fashion with realism and everyday), I don’t think the vision matched the purpose. Getting the word out is alot simpler than selling this “Vogue”-esque look. If Vogue truly wanted to applaud the first-responders and aftermath workers, then why add the models at all? I’m sure just these workers alone would make a graphic statement. Calling it distasteful and disrespectful is a little harsh against the magazine. Clearly, they had a good intention. Also, adding graphic images of the destruction is overdone in the general news media and can get tiring to see such depression. This was a fresh approach, just done in the wrong way. I give a “C” for effort (:

    First Facebook Comment: “It would be much better to do a spread in vogue with the models giving a helping hand to the people affected. Not posed up like manikins, triumphing through the streets in high fashion while people are still displaced. SMH leave the models out if you want to honor the men and women that gave a helping hand!! Only thinking about yourself, paycheck, and the next best shot instead of other people.”

    Although this person has horrible spelling skills, she gives a good alternative. These high fashion models with well known faces could have gone out and helped with the work of the people they posed with. That would have been inspiring and caught alot of people’s attention.

    Second Facebook Comment: “Should have dressed the workers up in designer clothes and photographed them instead. This just seems to be marketing off of their suffering and hard work. They should be the stars. Kinda tasteless.”

    Another interesting alternative, although I feel like if the high-fashion and marketing was the issue, wouldn’t dressing other people up have the same concept? Who knows … I am not one for high fashion and magazines anyway.

  3. Esra Yagoub says:

    My initial reaction reaction…
    I think it is ludicrous to see what Vogue has done as something offensive. Vogue showed there support for all of the people who helped during hurricane Sandy, by using what they they know best: fashion. There really wasn’t another way that Vogue could honor them, without straying from the purpose of the magazine.

    Facebook…
    Sarah Lansey: I’m shocked that people “love” this spread. REALLY?!? By ‘loving” this – does that make it okay to love a fashion spread in front of Hurricane Katrina victims? How about in front of the destruction caused by the hurricane in Galveston Texas? By all means, share the stories of the heroes and I admire Vogue for raising awareness and money for the victims. But REALLY – putting models in front of a disaster where lives were lost? Homes destroyed? Businesses gone? COME ON VOGUE…thought you were smarter than that. As a New Jersey resident and a thoughtful human being, I’m offended.

    My reaction to Sarah’s comments….
    The subject of the photo shoot was the heroic acts, not the tragedy itself. Her comment is the equivalent of saying that a news story about the the lives that were saves thank to the fire department would be offensive, and a waste of time.

    Facebook…
    Teresa Penley Sheppard: I love it! Thank you Vogue for not forgetting the plight of the Hurricane Sandy victims and recognizing the valiant effort of the service men and women featured in your article. It will bring much more attention in the fantastic way that Leibovitz captured it. Great job!

    My reaction to Teresa’s comments…..
    Agreed.

    • Esra Yagoub says:

      Rosina Andrea O’Donoghue-Joy: As a Wife of A New York City Fireman, who is Stationed at the Big House At the Rockaways, I want to Thank Vogue For this Amazing Tribute of thanks to My Husband and Fellow Firemen. It Was A Beautiful Gesture to say thank to them for all their Hard work and Dedication through out Hurricane Sandy. The Guys Really appreciated it. So For Those of You who May Have a Problem with this, don’t it was a wonderful thing that Vogue magazine did. Thank You Vogue. After the Storm you gave them hope and put a smile on their faces. What people don’t understand the Stress my husband and his fellow firefighter where under, sleepless nights, in total darkness, not knowing what was to come the next day. Has everyone 9/11 and what they did for us, and the sheer loss they suffered 343 of their brothers lost their lives in the hopes of saving others. In the crazy world that we live in today, we should be thankful for the little things in life not making a big thing over something that was done in a gesture of thanks

      My reaction…
      I missed this comment initially. She has the right idea. Most people like to jump to negative conclusions, but Rosina here has the right idea.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Esra,
      You raise a lot of interesting points in the context of Vogue’s purpose and their overall “brand” in our culture. In your opinion, are there any occasions when “using what they know best: fashion” would be an inappropriate photographic response?

  4. I would not say that these images are necessarily offensive, just simply a little insensitive. I commend Vogue for trying to bring awareness to the image, but I also feel that some disasters should be–in a way–sacred and not tainted with the status of wealth that those clothes bring. Many people have lost all of their wealth, and to see their tragedy juxtaposed with high-fashion and high cost clothes is a shock and a little callous.

    Jennifer Martin wrote: “I realize this is Vogue, but maybe they could have left out the models this time, and just put the spotlight on the heroes. I find them captivating enough. I don’t quite “get” why the models are in these pictures.”

    I would have to agree with her. The models only seem to serve as a distraction to the stories of the everyday heroes.

    Michelle Jennifer wrote: “In some psychology views (when it comes to personal opinions), it’s said that, “you’re both right”…in this case, everyone is ‘right’. (just thought i’d put that idea out there). (my personal opinion about the Vogue thing….it’s not something that I would agree with. I think it’s honorable for any company to feature “heroes”, but we’re all ‘heroes’ in some way. The thing I disagree with is a company using a ‘disaster’ or ‘important heroic workers’ in a fashion photo-shoot to receive more attention towards the fashions they are selling. I would NOT have the ‘model’ standing above the workers in this particular pic…it sends a message of ‘I’m a pencil thin gorgeous model wearing an expensive garment, while the rest of you wear your blue hard hats….(to me, it just doesn’t “work”…..) JMO:)”

    I definitely agree with Michelle here. There are benefits to both views, but personally I feel that the focus in these photos are off of the heroes and put onto the models and fashion. That is not where it belongs in this case.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Melanie,
      I like that you are trying to look at the photo-narrative from several angles. Do you think that the “distraction” was intentional and potentially part of a larger sub-narrative? Could we read the piece as a criticism on society and its ability to cling to a “life-goes-on” attitude in the face of tragedy?

  5. Sharlene Coco said: They should do a photo shoot in a sweat shop.

    The Vogue piece on the heroes of Hurricane Sandy appears to have the intention of honoring those who selflessly toil in the disaster area, but it instead ridicules them by highjacking their symbolic appeal and misusing it to push the fashion world’s materialistic agenda. The juxtaposition of models in high-end clothing with policemen, nurses and soldiers is an absurd one because it serves nothing to praise of their work. Rather, the images are more like glorified product placement in which the use of real-life hard working people as advertisements is passed off as art.
    Another aspect of the pictures worth mentioning is how it portrays women. Aside the pictures of female nurses in a hospital, most of the photographs contain highly unrealistic female models parading around men. Although it is unlikely that the magazine itself would admit to this, this type of imagery only serves to demean women as objects of sexual gratification in contrast to the men who do the real work.
    The nature of these photos is in reality not an uncommon one, as similar advertisement methods appear everywhere in the media. The digital distribution of these pictures will only help in building these types of insinuations. Although not entirely clear, there has to be an extent in which this suffocating human made zeitgeist brands people and affect their perceptions.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Misrepresentation, misogyny, and exploitation–––oh my! Alejandro, your close reading of the photo-narrative is thought-provoking. Could you elaborate on the rescuer’s “symbolic appeal?” And are you suggesting that materialistic agenda works to minimize what the rescuers represent?

  6. My Comments: Although I think it is a little silly that vogue decided to put models in such a situation, I think it is a little too much to attack the spread as insensitive and “messed up.” From the beginning of the magazines time, they strove to make spreads that no one would expect and that would bring attention. This is exactly what this spread is doing. Not only does it bring attention to the magazine and the clothes they are trying to sell but in a twisted, backwards way, they were able to give “unsung heroes” their 15 minutes of fame. And who doesn’t want that? If anything, these first responders deserve that. Also, it must be notes that vogue raised money to send to the families and people who’s lived were destroyed by this storm.

    Comment 1:
    “Tasteless. Egregious wealth juxtaposed with human loss isn’t fashionable. Ever.”
    I think that if people were to step back and look for a hot second as apposed to immediately assuming the worst, they would see that rather than putting people down for loosing everything and making it “fashionable”, they are rather bringing up the first responders and the heroes of hurricane Sandy. Personally, when I look at the photos from this shoot, the most noticeable element is not the models with the fancy dresses but rather the first responders. They honestly jump out at me first.

    Comment 2:
    “Sounds like it’s time to take that chill pill. Isn’t it fun to get huffy over stuff that doesn’t impact you?? maybe some volunteer work would take the edge off!!”
    Preach. There is absolutely no negative impact that these photo shoots have had on someone and it was in no way intended to be a personal stab. What does impact people is the tons of money that vogue raised for relief efforts and the man power they put into the Hurricane Sandy relief project.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Sarah,
      I appreciate your perception regarding Vogue as a brand and a magazine that deliberately looks to raise the bar––or push the envelope, so-to-speak. In your opinion, would there be a circumstance in which it would be inappropriate to “bring attention,” despite raising money for trauma victims? In other words, do relief efforts erase lines that should not be crossed?

  7. I found the Vogue feature at first to be a bit offensive, as it seems to trivialize the plight of the people who went through Hurricane Sandy as well as the work of the firemen, Con Ed workers, and others. However, I do think that Vogue’s attempt to use their wide audience for a greater cause was a commendable goal, although I don’t think they entirely succeeded. While Vogue should be recognized for raising support for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, regardless of intention, I think the photoshoot came off as very insensitive.

    Facebook Comment:
    Christine Pawlik: I really don’t think it was meant to offend anyone.
    I agree, it seems that Vogue had good motives for the feature, even if the editors should thought it through more.

    Facebook Comment:
    Sharlene Coco: They should do a photo shoot in a sweat shop.
    This comment again raises the issues of sensitivity and taste. While I do not believe the photoshoot to be as bad as she seems to believe, she makes an interesting comparison.

  8. Steven Crespo says: “Dear Vogue, I live at the NJ shore. Do you think the people who lost their homes and livelihood have any interest in buying an Oscar de la Renta, a Mark Jacobs, or a Michael Kors dress in your spread right now? I don’t think so. If you wanted to honor these people for their service, you could have just used them, not add models with dresses that can cost more than the car that someone lost in this storm while rubbing into our faces. I have a pretty, expensive dress, you have nothing over your head. So distasteful.”

    I completely agree with Steven. I think the photo shoot in Vogue was really distatesteful. They shouldn’t be making profit off of tragedy and while some find the contrast between the devastation and blue collar workers and the glamor and models intriguing, I find it offensive. Someone else mentioned that the actual workers were more interesting to look at than the models and I would have to agree. Their expressions, their posture, and their uniforms tell a story far more profound than malnourished models in expensive clothing. I don’t think Vogue was the right medium to tell this story because it didn’t fully exhibit the models or the service men and women. Either let a photojournalist photograph the aftermath of Sandy or let models pose in studios but trying to mix the two makes both attempts unsuccessful.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Colleen,
      It’s interesting that you bring up this idea of spontaneity (documentary photography) versus modeling (staged photography.) It makes me wonder if if the juxtaposition of those genres are at the center of the resistance.

  9. shjones says:

    My Reaction:
    If I were to look inside myself and truly ask whether or not this photo shoot should’ve been done, the answer would be obvious: no. Even though no harm was meant by it, the shoot certainly did not help anyone (the separate relief efforts did) and was insensitive to those affected by the storm. However, in today’s society, I may have to label the move as “appropriate”. Let’s face it, we live in a capitalist society. This is not to say everything done for money is okay, but in order to stay alive as a lead magazine these days, publications such as Vouge must try such risky, showstopping moves. Like we learned from Plato, man only follows laws because they are enforced. So what if the peers of Vouge condone such actions? Can Vouge be blamed? I’m honestly not sure.

    First Comment: Tara June Winch: Dressed up in the best New York collections? To the blue collars in this photograph I hope you at least got a tote bag – this is a lame way of highlighting the aftermath of tragic circumstances: leave this imagery to press photographers.

    Again, I agree that it was not the most moral thing for Vouge to do, but I believe that ignorant comments like this perpetuate the problem by disrupting communications that convey what the public feels is appropriate. This comment only angers the opposition is offensive with its choice of “blue collars” and “tote bag”.

    Second comment: Angela Aurelio: Should have dressed the workers up in designer clothes and photographed them instead. This just seems to be marketing off of their suffering and hard work. They should be the stars. Kinda tasteless.

    This comment on the other hand offers constructive criticism and does not say anything to offend. Not only does it keep the lines of communication clear, but it also offers a workable solution that Vouge could use to both profit and show their respect.

  10. dauneobrien3 says:

    You raise a very important aspect of photo-narratives in the digital space, which is the inherent reciprocity of social media platforms. It reminds me of Certeau’s theory of consumption (do you know it?!)–– and in this case would translate to a photograph no longer being distributed for simple “consumption”–––there are people on the receiving end of the product who are bound to push back against what is being produced and will re-conceptualize what is being represented. The beauty––or the beast, as you pointed out–– is the propensity to generate disparaging discourse. Welcome to the 21st century, no?
    P.S Don’t forget to sign your name to your posts 😉

  11. joezim1994 says:

    Angela Aurelio “Should have dressed the workers up in designer clothes and photographed them instead. This just seems to be marketing off of their suffering and hard work. They should be the stars. Kinda tasteless.”

    Margo Wortham “brilliant, absolutely brilliant, wow, this is art that needs to be framed”

    These two comments seem to show the two extremes to the debate over this photo shoot. My feeling is that this piece lies somewhere in between. Thinking about merely what this is—a series of pictures for a fashion magazine—I think that it can’t be assumed that Vogue was intentionally capitalizing on tragedy. It seems more likely that they wanted an interesting/different kind of photo shoot that would receive attention from the public. I don’t think Vogue wanted to take the spotlight away from the real heroes, but rather to pay respect in an unconventional way by featuring what may be considered normal people in a large magazine publication. Of course, in doing so, they also garner interest in themselves, but I’m not cynical enough in this instance to think that the entire purpose of this shoot was to use public calamity to their gain.
    Still, I’m not convinced that this constitutes high art either, but for what it is I think it is bold and somewhat refreshing (as I look through their other shoots, this one is definitely unlike anything else of what I’ve seen). My initial reaction was this seemed like some mildly offensive gimmick, but after reading more and looking closer, I don’t think Vogue had bad intentions and it is an interesting take on the traditional fashion shoot.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      You raise really valid points about the artistic/business rhetoric employed by a magazine that is quite simply–after-all– a fashion magazine. So if we agree that their intentions were to simply do what they do best, it still raises the question: Is there a line to be crossed when it comes to artistic intentions and attempting to narrate stories that deal with trauma? Or is there an unwritten “anything goes” policy when it comes to photo-narrative and distribution?

  12. Ross Fasman says:

    Barthes summarized my forthcoming argument the best: “Yet the mask is the difficult region of Photography. Society, it seems, mistrust pure meaning: It wants meaning, but at the same time it wants this meaning to be surrounded by a noise which will make it less acute.” (Barthes 36) Shortly speaking, they want the studium (and the studium only, independent of any external influences such as “who took the photo”, “how much money went into the photo”) to speak volumes about itself in order for the punctum to be genuine, as opposed to misleading, which many citizens including Tara June Winch, feel. Here is her comment (I will provide an opposing viewpoint):

    Tara June Winch: Dressed up in the best New York collections? To the blue collars in this photograph I hope you at least got a tote bag – this is a lame way of highlighting the aftermath of tragic circumstances: leave this imagery to press photographers.

    Ms. Winch distrust’s the intention of Vogue magazine in the case of photographing the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy due to the models and high-end, expensive clothes. She feels that the “press photographers” would capture the integrity of the disaster better than Vogue’s professionals. My position is that I greatly DISAGREE with Ms. Winch’s statement.

    To me, the “noise” Barthes discussed is the anti-elitism that inevitably comes with the fame of Vogue magazine. What occurred was that “the meaning was mistrusted” due to Vogue magazine sponsoring the photo-shoot; it seemed the fame of both the model and the magazine exacerbated, rather than abated, the frustration surrounding the “common man” (which, as a business, was certainly FAR from the intentions of Vogue) because it was seen as a marketing ploy. The fact is that if I, Ross Fasman, (or I guess even a “press photographer”) took the photographs to the same extent Vogue magazine did, (holding everything constant) it would not have received the backlash it did (from Ms. Winch at least). In other words, the Operator could not be removed when assessing the photo because there was general mistrust in Vogue’s intensions with the photographs.

    While I can understand the point made by Ms. Winch, I most certainly disagree- sometimes it doesn’t matter who took the photograph, or whether the models involved are famous or even if Vogue makes a slight profit: what matters is that the heroes and rescue workers were publicized and recognized for the beauty of their work through an expression of art to a mass market- can’t there be a different presentation other than the news! But if you want the news, the captions assist in telling the story of the “blue-collar workers” photographed- they are far from forgotten and their individual stories and efforts were certainly acknowledged! If anything, I would go so far as to the photo-shoot as a means of expression helped alleviate some pressure off of them and helped them focus on something different than the storm and recovery process. I feel that Vogue, being a business, still retained corporate responsibility by using their name and influence to publicize the Hurricane Sandy victim’s (they could have easily chosen a more scenic set such as the Cayman Islands, etc.)- sometimes you have to get over the fact that they are indeed a business and happened to use capitalistic means (i.e. profit and advertising) to do said publicity. It isn’t there responsibility to tell the news or play goody goody- they are a private business and need to make money. They did. Commendable in my eyes. I’m all for it and in fact praise them for shrewd (controversy is free advertising) practice and would even go so far as to thank them for even using the workers when they could’ve just used to the set.

    I am from North Jersey and saw the destruction myself. It was AND IS a horrible situation. But the fact of the matter is, they are a business. And they did what they felt was best for their business.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Ross,
      Barthe is an excellent way to explore this dialogue! What, then, would you say might be the “mistrusted pure meaning”—the one of cultural resistance— of the Vogue piece?

  13. Emily Schweich says:

    The Vogue Hurricane Sandy fashion spread has been lauded for its recognition of first responders. It is rare for a magazine to create this blend of photojournalism and fashion. The studium of this photograph is, in fact, the acknowledgment of the first responders of this photograph as hardworking heroes.

    Luxury Culture, a media website whose slogan, “Luxury is a philosophy,” seems to counter the struggle of Hurricane Sandy’s victims, commented, “wonderful shooting with a great story! we love the contrast within all the photographs!!” Yet for me, this “contrast” is the punctum of the photograph. Just look at the difference between Karlie Kloss’ sultry pout and the weary, crease-lined faces of the first responder whose arm she grasps in this photo: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/storm-troupers-hurricane-sandy-service-men-and-women/#/magazine-gallery/storm-troupers/6. As many viewers have commented, this contrast seems to exploit the first responders and their efforts.

    This contrast is particularly evident to me in a photograph that was not featured within the article but can be found by visiting the Vogue website at http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/storm-troupers-hurricane-sandy-service-men-and-women/#/magazine-gallery/storm-troupers/3. This photo, taken at Con Ed’s East River Generating Station, features a model standing on a platform above eight somber-faced workers. This positioning of the model above the workers suggests that she is more important than the workers and their contributions. Whether or not this message was intentional, this photo exudes a subliminal message that our society values fashion and beauty over the hard work and contributions of our true heroes.

    Facebook user Eddi Frantz commented, “It’s great that the first responders were recognised, as one of them who was in the actual Vogue shoot acknowledge…but just HOW it was done ( just plonk a few models in evening dresses here and there) is SO lazy, out of touch and frankly insulting. I’m a long-time Vogue reader (25+ years) and sorely miss the Vogue of old, where it was more intelligent and actually had something relevant to say. It took risks (particularly when Avedon or Newton were shooting) but did it in a way that excited…not insulted. This takes Vogue’s irrelevancy to new, very stupid heights. I think some people really need to ‘retire’ from there.” I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. I appreciate that these first responders were recognized for their contributions, but the use and positioning of models in this spread was insensitive and demeaning to the workers. If photographers are going to set their spreads against the backdrop of tragedy, they should be delicate and avoid belittling the efforts of those who have helped us most.

  14. Emily Schweich says:

    Ms. O’Brien:
    I made a couple of minor changes but couldn’t figure out how to delete a comment. Could you keep this one when you approve the comment and discard the other one?
    Thank you!

    The Vogue Hurricane Sandy fashion spread has been lauded for its recognition of first responders. It is rare for a magazine to create this blend of hard-hitting photojournalism and fashion. The studium of this photograph is, in fact, the acknowledgment of the first responders of this photograph as hardworking heroes.

    Luxury Culture, a media website whose slogan, “Luxury is a philosophy,” seems to counter the struggle of Hurricane Sandy’s victims, commented, “wonderful shooting with a great story! we love the contrast within all the photographs!!” Yet for me, this “contrast” is the punctum of the photograph. Just look at the difference between Karlie Kloss’ sultry pout and the weary, crease-lined faces of the first responder whose arm she grasps in this photo: http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/storm-troupers-hurricane-sandy-service-men-and-women/#/magazine-gallery/storm-troupers/6. As many viewers have commented, this contrast seems to exploit the first responders and their efforts.

    This contrast is particularly evident to me in a photograph that was not featured within the article but can be found by visiting the Vogue website at http://www.vogue.com/magazine/article/storm-troupers-hurricane-sandy-service-men-and-women/#/magazine-gallery/storm-troupers/3. This photo, taken at Con Ed’s East River Generating Station, features a model standing on a platform above eight somber-faced workers. This positioning of the model above the workers suggests that she is more important than the workers and their contributions. Whether or not this message was intentional, this photo exudes a subliminal message that our society values fashion and beauty over the hard work and contributions of our true heroes.

    Facebook user Eddi Frantz commented, “It’s great that the first responders were recognised, as one of them who was in the actual Vogue shoot acknowledge…but just HOW it was done ( just plonk a few models in evening dresses here and there) is SO lazy, out of touch and frankly insulting. I’m a long-time Vogue reader (25+ years) and sorely miss the Vogue of old, where it was more intelligent and actually had something relevant to say. It took risks (particularly when Avedon or Newton were shooting) but did it in a way that excited…not insulted. This takes Vogue’s irrelevancy to new, very stupid heights. I think some people really need to ‘retire’ from there.” I agree wholeheartedly with this statement. I appreciate that these first responders were recognized for their contributions, but the use and positioning of models in this spread was insensitive and demeaning to the workers. If fashion photographers are going to set their spreads against the backdrop of tragedy, they should be delicate and avoid belittling the efforts of those who have helped us most.

    • dauneobrien3 says:

      Emily,
      Thank you for sharing the additional photo. You and Melanie raise similar considerations and one that I think are worth exploring. I wonder if there is any possibility of crediting the editors of Vogue for their generating sub-narrative? Meaning, do you think it is possible that the writers at Vogue meant the piece as a criticism of our culture and relentless ability to cling to a “life-goes-on” attitude in the face of tragedy? Or some-such-discourse?!

  15. shulamitshroder says:

    Initially, I was quite confused about the purpose of this Vogue spread. Why did they have to put supermodels wearing designer clothes in the middle of scenes of people at their places of work? Why could Annie Leibowitz not just have photographed the hard-working men and women who saved lives and property during the terrible storm, as that would have been interesting enough? But then, of course the whole question of publicity and profitability came in. Of course the editors at Vogue knew that this would cause a stir, that some people would find it tasteless and beyond the pale. That, though, spurs more people to look at Vogue and discuss their products and view their ads – and after all, that is what they mean to do. So while I think that it was entirely inappropriate to put the models in the midst of people who had actually done the hard, terrifying work that needed to be done and that continues to be needed, I can also see that it was a smart decision to make for the company’s bottom line.
    What I found most interesting in the comments section was that there was a very definite difference in the type of arguments espoused between those who liked the spread and those who detested it. For example, many of the supportive comments were only one word, like Max Karczmar’s “brilliant x”, while many of the comments denouncing it were longer, often even full sentences, like Frankie Guzman’s “think you should have left the models out of this and just focused on the workers and citizens of New York.” The difference in length and argument complexity between the spread’s supporters and detractors makes it evident that it is often difficult to articulate why one does not approve of some image, but so much easier to state that one loves it.

  16. alangdon93 says:

    I have mixed feelings of the spread. For about half of the pictures I had initial mixed feelings, such like Jajmin Joana Cardoso Taveira, who wrote quite concisely: hate the concept love her. I feel like half of the pictures hit the mark and half of the pictures were not quite right. It might have been nice to have more cohesion in some of the pictures with the outfits and the backgrounds. However, the designers don’t necessarily plan for this type of commemoration. I agree that the firefighter picture reeked of misogyny. However, on second glance the excitement or proud looks on the firemen “playing model” is captured in the picture. This idea that Vogue allowed the first-responders to have a little fun as a break from their highly stressful and emotionally taxing job plays as a redeeming quality of the photograph. The second thing I noticed about my reaction to the photos was the more I liked the outfit, the less I minded the awkward/controversial juxtaposition.

    Another comment that stood out to me:

    Arnel Asonto the editorial had captured the real glamour of American people- rebuilding through cooperation.

    Although i don’t believe that it depicted as the “rebuilding through cooperation,” maybe through sponsoring, letting the workers play “model,” and raising money. for a good cause it is cooperating for the greater good. I really agree with Esra’s observation that what was highlighted was the first-responders, not the disasters or the victims.

    Although I still hold some mixed feelings, in balancing the insensitivity against the charity gains, the charity money wins. I feel this way because the more I look at the photos the less offended I am.

    -Anne Langdon

  17. Comment 1: Jennifer Martin- “I realize this is Vogue, but maybe they could have left out the models this time, and just put the spotlight on the heroes. I find them captivating enough. I don’t quite ‘get’ why the models are in these pictures.”
    Comment 2: Steven Crespo- “Dear Vogue, I live at the NJ shore. Do you think the people who lost their homes and a livelihood have any interest in buying an Oscar de la Renta, a Mark Jacobs, or a Michael Kors dress in your spread right now? I don’t think so. If you wanted to honor these people for their service, you could have just left used them, not add models with dresses that can cost more than the car someone lost in this storm while rubbing into our faces. I have a pretty, expensive dress, you have nothing over your head. So distasteful.”
    I agree with everyone who says this photoshoot was distasteful. The models have no place being in these photographs with people who worked endlessly and risked their own lives to help others. I agree with Jennifer Martin that the heroes are interesting enough, there’s no need for the supermodels to be there, it just adds an imbalance to the spread. I understand where the photoshoot was going…the two sides of New York’s finest, but lifeless models that are basically mannequins take away from the true kindness and bravery that these heroes demonstrated. Like Steven Crespo said, a $10,000 dress that looks like it was designed by a two year old is probably the last thing the victims of Hurricane Sandy want to buy right now. Anyone that knows me understands that I really don’t care about the fashion industry or clothes. This photoshoot only affirms my belief that the fashion industry is full of a bunch of materialistic airheads who care about nothing besides the designer label.

  18. Comment 1: Jennifer Martin- “I realize this is Vogue, but maybe they could have left out the models this time, and just put the spotlight on the heroes. I find them captivating enough. I don’t quite ‘get’ why the models are in these pictures.”

    Comment 2: Steven Crespo- “Dear Vogue, I live at the NJ shore. Do you think the people who lost their homes and a livelihood have any interest in buying an Oscar de la Renta, a Mark Jacobs, or a Michael Kors dress in your spread right now? I don’t think so. If you wanted to honor these people for their service, you could have just left used them, not add models with dresses that can cost more than the car someone lost in this storm while rubbing into our faces. I have a pretty, expensive dress, you have nothing over your head. So distasteful.”

    I agree with everyone who says this photoshoot was distasteful. The models have no place being in these photographs with people who worked endlessly and risked their own lives to help others. I agree with Jennifer Martin that the heroes are interesting enough, there’s no need for the supermodels to be there, it just adds an imbalance to the spread. I understand where the photoshoot was going…the two sides of New York’s finest, but lifeless models that are basically mannequins take away from the true kindness and bravery that these heroes demonstrated. Like Steven Crespo said, a $10,000 dress that looks like it was designed by a two year old is probably the last thing the victims of Hurricane Sandy want to buy right now. Anyone that knows me understands that I really don’t care about the fashion industry or clothes. This photoshoot only affirms my belief that the fashion industry is full of a bunch of materialistic airheads who care about nothing besides the designer label.

  19. I am not completely opposed to the idea of the first responding men and women in a Vogue photo shoot with other models , however I am opposed to this happening during a time when these people could be using their time a little more wisely. If it was maybe a year or two later when the community and victims of hurricane Sandy was more put on their feet, I believe this photo shoot would be a little more appropriate. Into further reading, I clicked on a hot link within the article and landed on another article on the site, The Cut on the same subject. There was an update that read, “Con Ed has reached out with the following statement about the Vogue shoot: ‘This photo is a great tribute to all of Con Edison employees who worked to restore power to our customers after Sandy devastated New York. We were extremely proud to be a part of it.’” This statement makes me think, “If the photo shoot was a tribute, why do the models have to be in the picture? The models are the ones with their gowns blowing in the wind and with glamorized make up on. If vogue really wanted to help, why not use to money that was used on the photo shoot to add to the money that they have already donated?” There is not even emphasis of the working men and women in the picture; the models have flashy gowns and outfits on that obviously set the spot light on them (In fact, in one of the pictures, all the working men and women are in blue which matched the blue-green colors in the background of the factory, while the model is in a white-grey dress which makes her stick out of all of them). The impact of the images was the extravagant clothing, not the hard work of the men and women. I think the intent of this photo shoot may have not been totally negative, however in the process, the focus on the important people was not there.

    One Facebook comment read: “As a Wife of A New York City Fireman, who is Stationed at the Big House At the Rockaways, I want to Thank Vogue For this Amazing Tribute of thanks to My Husband and Fellow Firemen. It Was A Beautiful Gesture to say thank to them for all their Hard work and Dedication through out Hurricane Sandy. The Guys Really appreciated it. So For Those of You who May Have a Problem with this, don’t it was a wonderful thing that Vogue magazine did. Thank You Vogue. After the Storm you gave them hope and put a smile on their faces. What people don’t understand the Stress my husband and his fellow firefighter where under, sleepless nights, in total darkness, not knowing what was to come the next day. Has everyone 9/11 and what they did for us, and the sheer loss they suffered 343 of their brothers lost their lives in the hopes of saving others. In the crazy world that we live in today, we should be thankful for the little things in life not making a big thing over something that was done in a gesture of thanks.”

    While I admire this woman’s optimism and thankfulness, I think she may be depreciating what her husband really deserves. It’s hard for me to totally understand her situation because she is looking through a completely different perspective, but I can’t help but think that a greater tribute to her husband would be that these pictures would be without the models in them and ALL the focus would on the first responders. I can’t also help but question what this woman means by “hope.” How does posing with vogue models give a person hope? Perhaps because these men and woman are being recognized by a big name fashion company. If that is that case, I think more hope can happen when these first responders can witness more progression and recovery within New Jersey, not being the side kick of vogue models.

    Another Facebook comment read: “Dressed up in the best New York collections? To the blue collars in this photograph I hope you at least got a tote bag – this is a lame way of highlighting the aftermath of tragic circumstances: leave this imagery to press photographers.”

    Using a good sense of humor, this commenter makes a statement I agree with. This photo shoot is not a very good way to “highlight” or elicit the work that these heroes have done; it seems very out of place. If I wanted to give tribute to the first responders, a photo shoot with Vogue models would be the last thing on my mind. In a way, I feel it is a bit selfish of Vogue to try to spread awareness and give tribute yet whilst they are trying to do this, they stick models in the image causing a sense of displacement or confusion to the viewer.

    • Here is a shorter version on the first paragraph, I did not realize how long it was until i posted it:
      I am not completely opposed to the idea of the first responding men and women in a Vogue photo shoot with other models, however I am opposed to this happening during a time when these people could be using their time a little more wisely. If it was maybe a year or two later when the community and victims of hurricane Sandy was more put on their feet, I believe this photo shoot would be a little more appropriate. Into further reading, I clicked on a hot link within the article and landed on another article on the site, The Cut on the same subject. There was an update that read, “Con Ed has reached out with the following statement about the Vogue shoot: ‘This photo is a great tribute to all of Con Edison employees who worked to restore power to our customers after Sandy devastated New York. We were extremely proud to be a part of it.’” This statement makes me think, “If the photo shoot was a tribute, why do the models have to be in the picture? If vogue really wanted to help, why not use to money that was used on the photo shoot to add to the money that they have already donated?” There is not even emphasis of the working men and women in the picture; the models have flashy gowns and outfits on that obviously set the spot light on them. The impact of the images was the extravagant clothing, not the hard work of the men and women. I think the intent of this photo shoot may have not been totally negative, however in the process, the focus on the important people was not there.

  20. maxinesrich says:

    As I first looked through and read about the spread, I felt fairly ambivalent. It’s not quite offensive to me, but I don’t find it to be a good spread. In all honesty, I find the spread to be absolutely ridiculous. To me, it offers no artistic value, and does not highlight the brave workers it is meant to highlight, as the focus is on the models. This is seen both in the brighter lighting on these women, but also the brightness of their clothing in contrast to the functionality of the firemen, nurses, and others. This really did not seem to be the place of a fashion model, amongst brave men and women. I did not, however, find it outright offensive, as they were not amongst the tragic destruction of the storm. When looking through the Facebook comments, I wish I could have had further knowledge of the lives of those who left comments. I wonder if those home-owners or New York or New Jersey residents would have differing opinions from others.

    “I think you should have left the models out of this and just focused on the workers and citizens of New York.” -Frankie Guzman
    I most connected with the comment above. This is an entirely valid suggestion; Vogue could easily have done an article, not a fashion spread, regarding Hurricane Sandy, and this controversy would not have arisen. They would still have been able to honor the workers, which was their stated goal, without seeming to glamorize the incident.

    “Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, wow, this is art that needs to be framed” – Margo Wortham
    This statement shocked me, and not only because some found this highly offensive and it is a glorification of the hurricane. Rather, I simply find this statement ridiculous. The models look out of place and uncomfortable in this environment. As I stated earlier, I find the spread itself odd and frankly ludicrous. The idea that someone could find these photographs so beautiful is baffling to me.

    I also wonder whether these comments would differ if those leaving them knew that they would later be analyzed by our class. The Internet is often seen as a “no-consequences forum”, but these comments clearly did not go unnoticed in our academic setting.

  21. megmck12 says:

    Something about this collection immediately did not sit well with me. I understand that the juxtaposition of “pretty” and “ugly” could be used to highlight the tragedy and disastrous conditions of New York after the hurricane but the purpose of these photographs seems to be exactly the opposite. This juxtaposition, rather than producing an evocative message regarding the destruction and sorrow, results in showcasing the models and their clothing. Despite the models being somewhat integrated into the scenes of disaster and rescue efforts, the eye is immediately drawn to the fashion and away from the heroism and tragedy. I can’t help but think the photographers must have been aware of this.

    “Should have dressed the workers up in design clothes and photographed them instead. This just seems tone marketing off of their suffering and hard work. They should be the stars. Kinda tasteless.” -Aneta Arelio

    This comment caught me because of her thoughts on “marketing”. I believe art should not be excluded from tragedy. I consider Pulitzer prize photographs that depict tragedy art and I believe artful memorials and statues inspired of tragedy are beautiful. I also understand that fashion is indeed an art. However, it seems to me that fashion is inextricably connected to commerce and marketing. For me, marketing should be very much excluded from tragedy, though it often is not. This collection of photographs seems to be an unsavory example of that.

    “What is there to celebrate when people are still suffering….?” -Catherine Toussaint Lord
    I actually disagree with this comment. While I feel that these Vougue photographs are very disrespectful of the tragedy, I think people should find reasons to celebrate life when so much of it has been lost. Respect of the tragedy, however, needs to be paramount.

  22. I found these photos distasteful and, more to the point, worthless. I did not care to look at what the models were wearing so much as I cared about looking at the firefighters, policemen, and other rescue workers. Putting the models in the photos makes it seem like the photographer, Annie Leibowitz, wanted the observers of the photos to care more about them then the important part of the picture. I didn’t find it aggressively offensive so much as I found it pointless and, to be honest, rather dull.

    Comment #1, Angela Aurelio:Should have dressed the workers up in designer clothes and photographed them instead. This just seems to be marketing off of their suffering and hard work. They should be the stars. Kinda tasteless.
    This comment precisely sums up how I feel. “Kinda tasteless” implies my dislike of the photos but my ultimate disinterest. It also shows how the magazine seems to be trying to take attention away from the more interesting parts of the photos.

    Comment #2, Fayza A. Elmostehi: Tasteless. Egregious wealth juxtaposed with human loss isn’t fashionable. Ever.
    Against, this commenter sums it up. There are people who lost everything in Superstorm Sandy and this photo spread just rubs in their faces how much they have lost.

    Also, sorry for the late post! Thought it was due at 6.

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