One of the photos of Kim Kardashian that’s been circulating around (and around) social media since Paper Magazine released its latest issue inspired a sense of déjà vu in people familiar with the work of the photographer who took the image, Jean-Paul Goude. The outlandish shot is a re-hash of a concept and pose Goude used in a 1976 image of model Carolina Beaumont. Perhaps he thought: I liked that photo of a woman balancing a champagne glass on her jutting buttocks looked good once, why not try it again? There are differences in the photos: While the latest overhyped Kardashian spectacle makes us cringe, the original Goude copied makes us squirm.
The Styleite website has insightfully unpacked what makes his use of the Beaumont image grotesque.
In Goude’s original, the subject, who is black, is nude. In his latest version, the subject, who is white, is dressed in evening gown and jewels. In the first, the black woman is “pleased to serve” while the white woman, Styleite notes, is not. The photo of Beaumont was published in Goude’s 1983 autobiography which he titled Jungle Fever. The image was controversial at the time, and it hasn’t gotten any more palatable when viewed from a few decades’ distance. The website The Grio delves into more of the history of Goude’s photographs of black women and his fetishization of their body parts in an article called “Kim Kardashian Doesn’t Realize She’s the Butt of an Old Racial Joke.”
We wonder: Was Paper so eager for publicity they were willing to court not only Kardashian, but also racial controversy?
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