Michelle Williams, actress in the new Oz: The Great and Powerful movie, is in the middle of a controversy for a photo shoot she did.
She was recently featured in the British fashion magazine AnOther dressed as a Native American and it’s causing a very big deal. The picture features Williams in a dark braided wig, feathers, and a flannel shirt.
TheNation.com’s Aura Bogado, who is Native American, posted an open letter to Williams, where she says, “Playing Indian not only promotes stereotypes, but violates profound spiritual significances, is tantamount to wearing blackface, and prolongs a violent history of genocide and colonialism. You’ve done all of that with your photo-shoot costume.”
According to OMG Yahoo!, they received the following statement from AnOther magazine:
While we recognize the seriousness of this debate, the image in question in no way intends to mimic, trivialise or stereotype any particular ethnic group or culture, as recent reports suggest.
The image (which is not, in fact, the cover of the magazine) is one of a suite of images taken from inside the magazine, presenting Ms. Williams in a series of eight different imaginary characters.
All the characters in the story were inspired by multiple fashion and cultural references, characters and eras, as well as by our admiration of Ms. Williams as one of the most respected and talented actresses of her generation.
While we dispute the suggestion that the image has a racist subtext in the strongest possible terms, we’re mortified to think that anyone would interpret it in this way.