Not to take away from your focus here, but book covers and movies also "thinwash" and "youthwash" the characters. Especially the female ones. When was the last time you saw a book cover that included a woman who looked like she was older than her teens and not yet a crone? And even the grandmothers are thin.
You and I don't exist in that artwork either. We're invisible between the ages of 20 and 70. And pretty is the rent you pay, for occupying a space marked female.
At least in that world, if not everywhere in this one.
In the world of marketing, women are women, and minorities are black or latino or whatever. If the character on the cover is any shade of brown, it means that's what the story is about, and that there's nothing there for anyone who isn't part of that demographic group. And if the character is female, she better be decorative on the cover, because if she isn't, then the book is only for feminists and you won't sell copies to men or non-feminists. If you want to sell a story about an engineer or a soldier, cover art that shows them as brown or female will drown out the soldier vibe or the engineer vibe.
The part of the book marketing world that caters to a more aware audience, has been sidestepping this by not including any pictures of people on the book covers. If a book is aimed at the "Great American Novel" category and hopes to be reviewed as such, then they'll put a landscape on the cover, or abstract art, or a still life. That way they can avoid looking lame for failing to acknowledge diversity, without getting the marketing kiss of death by showing a brown face or an "unattractive" woman.Edited at 2009-03-26 08:52 pm (UTC)