|Marc Jacob's Stephen Sprouse campaign shot by Richardson.|
If you're into fashion and/or photography and are acquainted with Fashionista, Fashionologie, The Cut or any other website that I frequent religiously, you have heard of the Terry Richardson controversy.
Till less than a week ago, the name "Terry Richardson" evoked more awe, respect and, in my case, fangirling than say, horror, disgust and/or mortification. This has taken a rather surprising twist as the blatantly accusatory statements of two models, Rie Rasmussen and Jamie Peck (I don't have a clue who she is, either) has inspired a flow of anti-Richardson stories and outbursts, albeit largely "anonymous". Of course.
Now, let's get this straight before anyone goes apeshit down in the comment section. I am a girl myself, from India for crying out loud. I'm a feminist and far from a misogynist. I'm completely unbiased in saying "I don't give a shit" about this.
Let's take Rie first, shall we? At the closing of Paris Fashion Week, she declared : “His work is completely degrading women. He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and take pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them to do a job and they’re too young to stand up for themselves.”
Coworkers have sex with their colleagues in every single industry in the world. Terry may be a perv, he may be a “horndog” but it in no way warrants this kind of backlash. Such relationships exist in every industry! So once in a while someone gets pissed off and spews venom. One washed up, possibly frustrated model said something. How do we know it was legitimate? She complains he’s going around telling people she called him names in front of clients in Paris. Well, maybe that’s because she went around calling his names in front of clients in Paris!
Let’s bear in mind that Rie is the same model who said she joined Victoria’s Secret because she wanted to hook up with another model. Ironic much?
|Blake Lively and Leighton Meester shot for Rolling Stone by Richardson.|
Now onto Jamie, the mythical model of sorts. Her story, thoroughly boggles me. She wrote : ” This man has built his business/pleasure empire on breaking the cardinal rule of asking a young girl you don’t know to come over to your house and hang out naked: don’t be a fucking creep.”
Oh, alright, Jamie. You make about as much sense as my donut right over here. She claims she’s “not a model, just a vain girl with nice tits who likes to pose for the occasional cheesecake photo”. She also admits to have posed “au naturel” for other “fine folks”, although she would not put Terry in that category. Undeterred, she went to his studio twice, called him “uncle Terry”, danced around naked for him and gave him a handjob. AFTER all that, she goes ahead and says he’s a sick human. What I’m asking is: WHEN does the model say NO? He can’t legally force her to do anything and considering he’s a bachelor, he has ever legal right to insinuate sex. Why did she go ahead with it? Oh, and perhaps the most important question: Who IS Jamie Peck? Google is not very forthcoming with information.
So what is the issue here? Is it the fact that Terry Richardson, everyone’s favorite alternative photographer is a slimeball or that agencies need to stop booking underage models?
I have to agree with the latter. I think there’s a line agencies need to draw when they’re sending models to a photographer whom they know has a reputation of being too sexual and send older girls.
Two girls came out. Why are all the other apparent “victims” anonymous? Good job, Jezebel. You guys are really following your policy of "Fuck fashion. It's an evil industry that reeks of crazies" absolutely to perfection.
|T with Barack Obama|
At the end of the day, Terry’s job description is to make art. Great art has always been controversial (think Pollock, McQueen, Manet). Good art challenges norms and societal ideas and stereotypes. This is the fashion industry! The industry where Tom Ford was revered for carving a “G” in a model’s pubic hair! Fashion is, has and always will be sexy. Apart from the art side of it, sexy sells. That may seem a bit simplistic but that’s the truth.
Terry Richardson is Terry Richardson. Do not go to a man so infamous for shooting nudes, that he’s made a career out of it and then squirm at the idea of posing nude. Do not go to a horror movie and complain about it being scary.
Younger models have been all praises for his work for years. Why would girls who have been coerced and forced to blow him be doing that?
Many are comparing this mess to Kate Moss’s and industry insiders all seemingly believe that it will blow over in a while, just like Kate, after using abusive substances and being condemned globally for it, came back in her highest element, snagging every big campaign around. Nobody in the industry gives two shits about two models (one, completely unknown) waxing eloquent about something without proof and being illogical and irrational about it, at that.
I just think that models need to be smart, and more essentially, agencies need to be smarter. I don’t see peer pressure as a good enough reason for being “coerced”. You are an adult model, going to shoot for a nude photo session for a photographer whose work is all about sex. Do the math. We want teenagers to say no to sex, drugs and alcohol but adult women can’t say no to one photographer? I’m talking exclusively of Jamie and Rie here, because they’re the only two who came forward non-anonymously. I just don’t buy the whole “my career needed a real boost” cock and bull story because well, if it did, you have to choose: fame or your morals. These two obviously chose the first. Then don’t complain about it later!
None of these two models were “exploited”. They were adult models, not subject to any violence or threats. Situation getting too creepy? Walk out. Domestic abuse? That’s exploitation. Giving a famous photographer a handjob to give your career a boost may make you feel a little icky but it is most certainly not exploitation. Sorry. They were unpaid gigs, for their lookbook. They didn’t “need” it so desperately.
|Natalia Vadianova by Terry Richardson|
People just need to hear the words “young girls” and “nude photos” and "older, fashion photographer" and there’s chaos and unthinking comments. I am not promoting Terry’s behavior (he’s an incredibly talented photographer who’s made major strides for the fashion industry but he has his issues) or blatantly lashing out at the models. I’m just stating that they were, in no way “abused”, “coerced” or “exploited”. I’m simply begging the question: When does a model say NO?