LeBron – LeKing – LeKong

I knew I’d seen this somewhere before…


Way back in the memory archive…way back in the realm of repressed cultural recollection.


Thanks to Bryan Burwell, ESPN’s Sports Reporters, for flagging the Vogue cover.

The Jungle Fever Fantasy is alive and well on Madison Avenue.  Blond dreams of opening Mandingo Clubs from Cleveland to Connecticut and all  the way back to Catalina (NOT WORK SAFE or FAMILY FRIENDLY).

It’s time for Mother James to have a talk with her baby.   Bryan Burwell is right that athletes and their “image handlers” bear responsibility for these types of depictions.  LeBron needs to clean house – then clean head – rinse and repeat.  He’s young – his handlers are not.  He should be surrounded by people who know better.


  1. Lebron’s Vogue Debut

    The April 2008 Vogue cover is supremely naive to the real racial dichotomies of “this” world… It’s a powerful allusion to King Kong and Fay Wray. And poor Lebron James doesn’t want to (or is too stupid or too vain or too deluded to) admit that he bears a resemblance to a gorilla in that particular pose. It is understandable on his part to take the: “My @#$% don’t stink”, route. But, keep in mind that images can be manipulated to make anyone look like anything…

    There are so many other allusions to KK going on in the photo that I would waste my word count doing an inventory of them… However, a couple of instances of this would be how Lebowitz has Giselle posing like some stiff doll in Lebron’s “hand”? Not his arms…his HAND….it’s like all of her weight is effortlessly supported by his fingertips…and if you look at her feet, its as if she is not supporting her own weight but being suspended in air… Also, notice how she is holding her arm and leaning back… And, pay attention to those jungle sandals she’s wearing and that ropey, mass of blond ringlets…A direct allusion to the film. The photo’s intent is also highly nuanced on down to Lebron’s savage, teeth gnashing expression contrasted with Giselle’s Doris Day “tra-la-la” laughing, unconcerned smile. She knows her Kong won’t hurt her…”good Kong”. Rather an unlikely “couple”, in the traditional sense of the word. It took a lot of evil to get all of this just right…

    Vogue has NEVER featured a black man on its cover… And, its been around since 1914… Now, all of a sudden, this odd cover photo pops up…

    Check out the photo they (Vogue)could have used at:

    Now,look at the photo they DID use at:

    Compare it to a picture of King Kong found on Google Images at:

    Hmmmmmmm…….. What’s going on here? THIS:

    Any attempts to “white” wash Lebowitz’s and Vogue’s clear affront to the dignity of Black People deserves this retort : Maybe we shouldn’t end with “imagining” that any racially insensitive statements were being made with the Lebron James cover ; maybe we should also delve deeper and ponder whether or not the Holocaust actually happened… I would love to see Lebowitz come up with a Vogue cover featuring a Shylock-type character holding a pound of raw (pig) skin in one hand and a fist full of gold coins in the other as he smiles gleefully…How about seeing if Robin Williams is free? The headliner could read: “Was It All Hype??” And,… inside, you would have bone thin models sporting designer concentration camp outfits with planter soil rubbed onto their ruddy cheeks as they smile their carefree smiles and give their High Fashion poses around the deserted grounds of Auschwitz.

    What do you suppose the response of the Jewish community would be?

    How artistic! Nope. I don’t think so.

    And,… boy! If I had a penny for every evil,stupid,hateful person on this planet, …I would be richer than God…or at least, Oprah.

    I urge anyone smart enough to see and to be offended by this blatant insult to people of color to contact : http://www.naacp.org

    Make your thoughts known to them and perhaps we can see justice rule the day in this particular incident.

    God Bless.

  2. You’ve inferred handlers means he is a creature. In fact, it simply refers to the people in his employ whom he dispatches to handle his business – not to handle “him.” The inference is not linear or required, though understandable given the use of terms like “baggage handlers.” Thanks for the info.

  3. LeBron’s “handlers” are actually pretty young. He fired his agent a couple of years ago and turned over the running of his “business” to some old friends of his (I’m pretty sure they’re all in their 20’s). They’re pretty smart (though I don’t think any of them have a college degree) and have mostly been doing a good job, but they hadn’t represented anyone until LeBron. Make of that what you will.

  4. Interesting stuff. I certainly would not expect young persons to be familiar with the entire culture of movie art, posters and such which surround the King Kong story. The Vogue folks knew exactly what they were doing. The poses are almost identical.

    I guess this was Vogue’s way of signaling their readers that things really had not changed all that much.

  5. Pingback: vogue lebron
  6. Annie Leibowtiz knew exactly what she was doing and the pre-shoot and post-shoot meetings that we will never know about, did indeed discuss and anticipate the fallout….its what they do. The very first black male to be on the cover of Vogue in its entire history….and that cover wouldn’t be complete without a blonde damsel on the arms of the black buck now could it?

  7. Miranda:

    You could be right. I don’t even need “proof of intent” here because images (the province of the right brain) never lie…they are what they are. It’s not as if this is a memo where you need to read between the lines. This is it – it’s all there is. No back story, no narrative, no explanation. None of that is necessary. This picture is traditional – in every sense of the word – as it relates to non-Black and anti-Black depictions of Africans. That’s all.

    If they want to apologize fine. If not, that’s fine too. It’s not as if Black folks can adversely impact the bottom line of Vogue by coming between white women and their fashion fix. Shit ain’t happenin’. This is about flagging the unacceptable and moving on. Black folks in the fashion industry need to tackle this…they should be able to handle it.

  8. Just got the ok from the Library’s Legal Department to show during my Mad Movie Mondays both King Kong versions and, I’ll be allowed to use as a tagline:

    “See the movie that inspired the controversial Vogue Magazine cover featuring LeBron James and decide for yourself!”

    I think I’ll pack ’em in…

  9. Actually, I also like:

    “You’ve seen Vogue magine’s controversial cover featuring LeBron James, now see the infamous movies that started it all: King Kong.

    In the spirit of “flagging the unacceptable,” I’m using this as a teachable moment because way too many Black folk do not have a problem with King Kong, period. Way too many of us haven’t seen the original (1933 Cooper & Schoedsack’s) King Kong to fully appreciate the dialog that is basically a blueprint of how to enslave humans (Africans) and subvert their humanity by “teaching them fear.”

  10. It’s a wrap. These pictures are all structurally IDENTICAL. Same pose. Same positioning. Implement in free right hand or dexterous hand. The woman is dangling in the left hand – or the sinister hand. Wide open mouth…

    No accidents…only psychopathic recurrences.

    It will be interesting what other photos people are able to come up throughout the sphere.

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