Posts Tagged ‘Vice’

Jezebel calls out Vice‘s Women in Fiction issue for its distasteful fashion spread that features models reenacting the suicides of famoussuicide fashion female writers.

In the photos, the authors — including Virginia Woolf — are styled and posed to depict the times of their deaths. The title of the spread is “Last Words.”


The online Vice article was to appear in this month’s fiction issue of the popular news and culture magazine, which is based in the US. But after an outcry from commentators and mental health groups, the company took the feature offline late yesterday afternoon and issued an apology, according to today’s Independent article.

Perfect storm of criticism

Other writers and bloggers responded disapprovingly as well. And the heavies weighed in with a full storm of criticism:

Thanks to Kaylee Baucom, English professor at the College of Southern Nevada for alerting Blogging Woolf to the original Woolf sighting.

A class on famous last words

In a related bit, ABC News reported on a class that analyzed some of history’s most famous last words, including those of Adolph Hitler, Virginia Woolf and Kurt Cobain.

The talk among academics

Finally, here are quotes from the discussion regarding the offending fashion spread and the 2002 film The Hours from the VWoolf Listserv:

“I’m just wondering of those who oppose this, are you equally offended by the portrayal of the same event in The Hours?”

“Apart from VW, the characters in The Hours were fictional, and VW’s death was decades ago, whereas Iris Chang’s family and loved ones probably are still very much processing their grief over her suicide. The image of her was breathtakingly insensitive and offensive to me for that reason.”

“It seems to me that there is a perhaps slight but nonetheless significant difference between the depiction of suicide in *The Hours* (film) and this project insofar as* The Hours *attempted to portray Woolf’s life and (perhaps to a lesser extent) her battle with mental issues before portraying her suicide whereas the Vice Magazine project shows readers only the moment of suicide itself. Although perhaps the Vice spread also contained some information about the authors and their lives? I would argue that neither work did a very good job of portraying mental illness (particularly not when it came to Woolf herself). Unless there was a significant written component to the Vice piece that I’m not aware of, it seems to me that the Vice Magazine project uses suicide as a jumping-off point for an exploration of aesthetics (if I were to be generous) or (if I were to be less generous) as a point of provocation rather than exploring the deep and complex health issues that led these authors to suicide.”

“There is no comparison. The VICE spread is using suicide to sell fashion and in doing so it glamorizes and aestheticizes female bodies in pain. It also takes our attention far away from the amazing work all of these women accomplished. You would think that in an issue announcing itself as covering Women’s Fiction that the work would be their concern. Whatever you want to say about Michael Cunningham and/or the film version of his novel The Hours, he isn’t guilty of promoting suicide to sell shoes and vintage attire!”


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