Are The New Gisele Bündchen Ads Racist?

A new photo series shot by Norwegian fashion photographer Sølve Sundsbø, featuring Gisele Bündchen and a crew of super-buff, super-naked, super-dark-skinned male models, is causing a bit of an uproar online. Over at Project Rungay, a commenter wrote: “wow, those photos are fierce. can’t tell if the guys are her slaves or if they’re raping her. interesting race dialogue. the first photo is super sexy.” At Racialicious, they’re “wary of the color contrast idea in fashion photography,” explaining that “darker skinned minorities always seem to end up as background color.” Commenters there questioned why Gisele is clothed and the men aren’t, and wondered if the race and gender issue would be the same if the series featured a black female with white male models (sounds like a Janet Jackson music video circa 1990). Some worry these types of photos reinforced the antiquated idea that white females are adored by everyone, especially black men. Others suggest without the charged racial and gender stereotypes, the photos would be mediocre at best. Personally, I found these issues more provocative when Robert Map[lethorpe addressed them in his photos in the early ’80s. This isn’t a question of gender and race, but, rather: “Are artists running out of original ideas?” What are your thoughts? [Click after the jump to see more of the photographs.]