Vanity Fair’s Beautiful Game

Vanity Fair’s latest cover is proof that we live in an era in which men have the privilege of being just as objectified as women.   Nominally a celebration of the 2010 World Cup that kicks off in South Africa in June,  the magazine’s gay porn-ish cover features soccer superstars Didier Drogba of the Ivory Coast and Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo in nothing but their flags, photographed by Annie Leibovitz.  Within (oh, my stars & stripes!) you can behold the U.S.’s Landon Donovan, as well as Brazil’s Kaká, Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon, England’s Carlton Cole, Germany’s Michael Ballack–all in their undies.  Cheers to you, Vanity Fair: Your enterprising shamelessness truly knows no bounds.

is a staff writer for The Millions living in Virginia. She is a winner of the Virginia Quarterly's Young Reviewers Contest and has a doctorate from Stanford. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Times, In Character, VQR, Arts & Letters Daily, and The Daily Dish.


  1. I really don’t see how this is “gay porn-ish”. It’s just guys in their boxers. They aren’t even touching. I don’t necessarily disagree about the objectification part, but I really don’t see how this cover could be construed as being specifically gay. Cheesy? Sure.

  2. That kind of objectification of the male body–nearly naked, oiled abs, muscles flexed, standing in intimate proximity–does mimic the tropes of gay porn. Remember the accusations of homoeroticism made about the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogues and adverts a few years back? Same thing’s happening on that VF cover.

    Perhaps it’s a matter of taste? You say cheesy, I say gay porn. But I think it’s more than cheesy: At the very least, obscene, shameless, and kind of demeaning. (Though I doubt the self-loving Mr. Ronaldo sees it as such.)

    My other problem with the cover: As if soccer doesn’t already have a hard time being taken seriously in this country.

    Anyhow, thanks for the comment, Emily

  3. i feel like in france or someplace “shamelessness” would not be a word used in conjunction with partial or full nudity.

  4. It’s not the nudity–it’s the whole package. Ronaldo’s Mr. Universe pose, the body oil, the snuggliness with Drogba, the flag panties.

    I’m all for nude photographs of the sort taken by Edward Weston or Manuel Alvarez Bravo, the occasional Mapplethorpe. And I’ve like A.L.’s nudie pix for VF before. Again, a matter of taste: you say puritanical, I say tasteful.

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