Target: Vice magazine editor-in-chief Rocco Castoro
Goal: Denounce magazine’s tasteless fashion spread featuring recreations of famous female writers’ suicides
Vice magazine’s 2013 Fiction Issue commendably featured the work of women writers and artists exclusively. However, these efforts to give voice and exposure to talented women were undercut by the magazine’s fashion spread. All of the photographs in the series recreated the deaths of famous female writers who committed suicide.
Vice is known for pushing the envelope, but this fashion spread is offensive and crudely romanticizes the tragic deaths of famous female writers instead of honoring them for the work they did. The photos make light of suicide, mental illness, and violence. Captions include information about what the respective models are wearing, but no specific information about the writers and their contributions to literature. Vice uses suicide as a fashion statement and a crude means for advertising clothing brands.
The photos have been removed from Vice’s website, but still exist all over the Internet and in the publication’s print edition. Vice also removed the multitude of comments written in response to the photos that mostly criticized the editorial and questioned its tastefulness, effectively silencing an important debate surrounding the photos and their implications.
Further, the official apology issued by Vice misses the point. The magazine staff defends their actions by saying the spread was “approached with an art-editorial point-of-view rather than a typical fashion photo-editorial one.” The magazine essentially claims that the fashion spread was just art and the apology takes no true responsibility for any harm or offense the photos may have caused.
There was nothing “artful” about this suicide-centric fashion spread. These women were real women with real lives whose tragic deaths should not be exploited as a motif for a photo shoot. Tell Vice to take responsibility for its actions without hiding behind assertions of artistic license.
Dear Rocco Castoro,
The fashion spread in Vice’s 2013 Fiction Issue offends and unsettles with its recreations of famous female writers’ tragic suicides. The photos make light of these women’s lives by romanticizing and exploiting their deaths.
The apology issued on the magazine’s website is condescending and misses the point, asserting artistic license instead of taking true responsibility or inviting an earnest conversation on the photo shoot and why we live in a society where there are people who thought the spread was acceptable. Taking down the photos from the website did not solve the problem. In fact, by getting rid of the comments that emerged criticizing the photos, you have stopped a very important debate that warrants attention.
The women featured in the fashion spread should be remembered for the work they did and their many contributions to art and literature. Using their deaths to sell fashion is unacceptable and sends a negative message to current female writers.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons