Vanity Fair covers are notoriously memorable and instantly iconic – once upon a time, because of their untouchable, aspirational images of Hollywood elite; now, because of the magazine’s (hilariously) horrific retouching of images of Hollywood elite. And, this month, men’s mag GQ has set out to ensure that the publication never forgets the latter, by immortalising it in an exquisite troll cover for its latest issue.
GQ's "comedy issue" features Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon, comedian Sarah Silverman and actress Issa Rae with their arms and legs misplaced in an apparent Photoshop disaster. One of McKinnon's disembodied legs is perched next to a nonchalant Silverman, as her other leg reaches across the lap of Rae. Rae has trouble of her own – a gratuitous third arm of hers circles Silverman's shoulder some distance away from its body. Silverman’s own third arm appears to be on the floor.
The cover is a piss-take (or homage to, depending on how you look at it) of Vanity Fair's widely ridiculed Oscars cover earlier this year. The magazine's 24th annual “Hollywood” issue had Oprah, 64, pose for renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, alongside actors such as Robert De Niro and Nicole Kidman, with Reese Witherspoon sitting on her lap. Instead of having imperfections removed, Witherspoon was gifted an entire extra leg for the shoot. Oprah on the other hand, was given another hand in a different image: she had one on her hip, one on her lap and then a third hand wrapped around Reese's waist.
'Well… I guess everybody knows now… I have 3 legs,' she wrote on Twitter about the cover. “I hope you can still accept me for who I am.”
A Condé Nast insider told Page Six that Vanity Fair staff aren’t amused by the cover, arguing that they should have been warned about it, as they are both Condé Nast properties.
One of McKinnon's disembodied legs is perched next to a nonchalant Silverman, as her other leg reaches across the lap of Rae
“There is mass fury at VF today, the staff and editors are really upset… Jim Nelson, the editor-in-chief at GQ, never told Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Radhika Jones, or anyone else at VF, that he was planning this,” the source said.
“They are being mocked by a sister publication, nobody told them in advance and they found out about it at the same time as everyone else, when the GQ cover was released.”
But, online at least, Vanity Fair appears to see the funny side. When they were contacted for comment by Page Six, the publications spokesperson directed their reporter to the following tweet sent just after the cover was released:
“It’s not going out on a limb to say we love Issa, Kate, and Sarah. Props to @GQMagazine for getting a leg up on this trend.”
GQ also released an “apology” for the cover, not to Vanity Fair, but to the actors photographed.
"GQ would like to apologize to Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, and Sarah Silverman for the egregious mistakes made in the process of creating the cover for our 2018 comedy issue," the statement read.
"We deeply regret that the results violated GQ's rigorous standards of editorial excellence and the laws of nature."