i know i’ve been touching on a lot of serious issues these past posts (interviews excluded) but i just can’t help myself. it’s more important to me to talk about real issues in the real world than just gab on about what i’m wearing, what celebs are wearing or how i’m painting my nails. although…trust me, you’d all totally wanna hear about how i’m painting my nails. on the real though, this post has been something i’ve been considering for a while now and it’s a bit of a touchy subject (pun totally intended!)- it’s been all over the news recently (at least in the fashion world): infamous horndog/pervert fashion photographer terry richardson.
terry richardson making out with chloe sevigny as terry richardson – via terrysdiary.com
okay, maybe that’s a little judgmental…but i’m a judgmental person, get over it. in a real way, i didn’t make that name up, in fact, richardson is a self-proclaimed “pervert like the rest of [the] fashion [industry]”. the scandal went public almost a year ago, when one jamie peck (from my understanding, she’s not a model) described her meeting and subsequent photoshoot with richardson when she was 19 for the gloss magazine, wherein he behaved like a real creep. seriously perverted behaviour includes: asking peck to remove her tampon so he could play with it/make tea with it, getting naked for no reason, having her take his photo while he was naked and suggesting she touch his penis. seriously. i know what you’re thinking, and don’t worry, i’ll get to that, let me just lay the ground work for a sec. peck goes on to confess that she gave him oral sex, at his suggestion, in order to please him. i know, i know. just wait.
so once peck’s article began to go viral, a whole can of worms was opened up (or whatever the appropriate expression is). articles are popping up all over the online fashion world, debating whether or not richardson is the creep that models are now making him out to be. recently, freelance model felice fawn released an online conversation between herself and richardson, where he asks her for sexual favours in exchange for shooting her. she politely declines. supermodel rie rasmussen released statements alleging that richardson abuses his power as a highly successful photographer to get young girls to take their clothes off or perform sexual favours. rasmussen stated “he takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures they will be ashamed of. they are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves“.
this seems somewhat open and shut, at least it did when i first started reading about richardson. even the fashion industry at large is well aware of richardson’s behaviour. even, perhaps especially, richardson’s own staff is well aware of his behaviour. jezebel released an article that detailed numerous models’ accounts that are similar to peck’s. i’m not going to go into detail about the situations that arose, as that’s not really the point of this post. what i do want to talk about, is who is in the wrong. when i first started reading articles on gawker and jezebel about richardson, i whole heartedly believed that richardson was in the wrong. it came as a huge shock when commenters started defending richardson’s behaviour – “why didn’t the models say no?” “they made the choice to do what he asked” “no one forced them to take off their clothes” “why are they only coming forward now” etc. does it really all come down to choice? yeah, okay, they made the choice, but for young models especially, being shot by someone as famous and who holds as much influence as richardson, can make or break your career. they felt that saying no or defending themselves would ruin any chance they had in the industry. fear or manipulation is probably to blame as well. what people fail to see is the huge disparity of power distribution between photographer and young, fresh model. the desire of the young model to break into the industry, and the fear of what would happen had she said no, push her to comply without really knowing what she’s doing. and richardson knows that. it also doesn’t help that richardson has photographed everyone, and i mean everyone who is anyone in the celebrity world. my main girl charlize theron, gwyneth paltrow, lindsay lohan, lindsey wixson, dakota fanning, lady gaga, adam levine, jared leto, charlotte free, candace swanepoel, just to name a few. and that’s just in 2012. name-dropping is also (apparently) another tactic employed by richardson, according to peck – naming all his celeb friends in order to further impress and thus, manipulate the girls he’s shooting. furthermore, just the suggestion that the model would be the “debbie downer” of the room if she said no…well, when you’re surrounded by the industry’s elites…wouldn’t you be scared to say no?
even as i write this though, phrases like “without really knowing what she’s doing” are jumping out at me. i can see how it can be argued backwards – she did know what she was doing. it’s a slippery slope, though, no? it’s hard to say…sometimes you act rashly because you don’t know what else to do. that has a lot to do with being young and naive.
this would be a completely biased article if i didn’t also point out that many women, models and celebs alike, willingly pose nude for richardson and allow him to post the images on his blog, as you’ll see if you check it out. but…can we really let that speak for the entire community of women that he’s photographed? seriously, can we? are these accusations just an attempt to cover up a past mistake? i say, probably not. i mean, asking you to take off your clothes is one thing, asking you for sexual favours is another.
richardson refuses to comment on most of the gossip sites and fashion blogs. his own blog reads a lot like a creepy soft core porn site. lots of shots of girls’ boobs, naked girls, naked him, naked him with naked people, naked naked naked. and i mean, whatever, nudity is incredibly natural but there’s something about the way he shoots it that makse it provocative, and not in a good way. unfortunately, the general consensus is that even with all the news being spread about richardson’s behaviour, his career probably won’t be affected. how insane is that? our society, the fashion industry especially, has glorified celebs to no fucking limit. it’s absurd. take, for instance, the kate moss/coke scandal or even the situation i mentioned in a previous post about chris brown/rihanna/domestic violence. we seem to just forget about any kind of scandal based on whether or not the person in question is popular or inherently good at what they do. and of course, terry richardson is both. his photos never fail to shock and awe, and that’s obviously his goal. despite what’s being said about him, his work continues to push the limits of fashion photography, enough that we conveniently forget that he’s a fucking perv. what do you think? who is at fault here? is this soemthing we should blame on terry richardson or the fashion industry at large? or society at large? or ourselves for feeding into it?