If you wonder why Hollywood stayed so quiet so long about casting couch abuse behind closed doors, just look at how the entertainment industry enabled perverted sexual exploitation of women in front of the camera.
Fashion magazine moguls at Conde Nast have now reportedly blacklisted soft-porn celebrity photographer Terry Richardson from working on shoots for Vogue, GQ and Glamour. Count yourself blessed if you’ve never been exposed to “Uncle Terry’s” stomach-turning pictures of women simulating oral sex with bananas and cow teats; models urinating in snow; a college intern (now his wife and mother of twin boys) inside a trash can wearing a diamond “SLUT” tiara while fellating Richardson; or his countless self-portraits standing naked, erect or sucking his thumb with the rich and famous (most in their underwear or topless).
Let’s be clear: This new “ban” on contracting with Richardson was not instituted because of industry disgust with his 20-plus years of misogynist images of young models and starlets. It’s about protecting business backsides.
“Conde Nast would like to no longer work with the photographer Terry Richardson,” a top executive wrote in an email to editors first released to The Daily Telegraph this week. “Any shoots that have been commission(ed) … should be killed.”
The unwritten reason? Reports of Richardson’s foul behavior with his subjects resurfaced in British tabloids last week. Print and runway models (several of them underage) had recounted for years how they were manipulated and molested while working with the shady shooter. In the wake of the toxic Harvey Weinstein scandal, industry gurus had no choice but to finally disavow the skeevester with a camera dubbed “edgy” and “controversial” by hipster rags and porn apologists.
Here’s the thing: These newly woke defenders of women are as full of disingenuousness as a Pathological Liars Club global conference. While they now rush to condemn backroom sexual harassment and the corporate “rape culture,” they’ve capitalized on explicit sexual degradation to sell magazines, clothes and cosmetics. They’ve commodified and normalized pedophilia, adultery, promiscuity and prostitution. They (SET ITAL) are (END ITAL) the culture.
When social conservatives criticized Richardson’s raunchy filth marketed as high-fashion art over the years, we were mocked or dismissed. I wrote about longstanding tales of Richardson’s lurid, sex-crazed, drug-infested shoots four years ago. I pointed to his twisted work on Miley Cyrus’s phallic-drenched “Wrecking Ball” video (which she now regrets), troubled Lindsay Lohan’s photo shoot in which he got her to point a gun at her head, and the group-sex simulation with “Glee” TV stars Lea Michele, the late Cory Monteith and Dianna Agron (which she now regrets).
Liberal feminists laughed. Hillary Clinton campaign alumna Audrey Gelman, Richardson’s ex-girlfriend and BFF of actress Lena Dunham (who posed pantless for Richardson for a magazine spread), responded to my criticism on Twitter by posting an animated gif of fellow feminist heroine and comedienne Tina Fey rolling her eyes. Dunham attacked conservatives before expressing mild regret about working with the porn king.
Despite being the mother of a daughter, a female entrepreneur, female writer and female public speaker (who has never dated sicko photogs or shed clothes to promote my work), Dunham’s and Gelman’s friends at feminist blogs scoffed at my voice as a promoter of women’s empowerment. They expressed more disgust for me than they did for Richardson’s serial depravity.
When CNSNews.com, a division of the conservative Media Research Center, spotlighted creepy Richardson’s 2007 photo shoot with Barack Obama for Vibe magazine, the media outlet was ignored. CNS News noted that several news articles about Richardson’s sexually exploitative exhibits and book spreads had been published prior to Obama posing for and with Richardson. One online interview, published several months before Richardson’s shoot in Obama’s then-U.S. Senate office, quoted Richardson bragging:
“Like I’ve always said, it’s not who you know, it’s who you blow. I don’t have a hole in my jeans for nothing.”
Another piece, celebrating Richardson’s “TerryWood” exhibit in New York City in 2004, described how “the whole show consist(ed) of self-made images of Terry thrusting, rucking, prodding, pumping and, sometimes, grinning at the camera like a nerd let loose in porno heaven.”
CNSNews.com contacted Obama presidential campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, strategist David Axelrod and Obama White House press secretary Jay Carney for comment on whether Obama regretted giving Richardson credibility “given the sexually graphic nature of Richardson’s photography and the way he presents women.”
LaBolt, Axelrod and Carney all failed to respond or declined to comment then. Where are they now?
And how about Richardson’s most powerful subject, Barack Obama, who last week finally expressed disgust with his former top donor Harvey Weinstein and stated:
“Any man who demeans and degrades women in such fashion needs to be condemned and held accountable, regardless of wealth or status.”
Yet, President Obama, father of two daughters, held hands with sleazeball shutterbug Terry Richardson while giving a big thumbs up and grinning from ear to ear (Richardson’s signature pose with porn stars, rappers and runway models).
Where’s the condemnation and accountability? Children are watching, as they say.
Featured image by Christophe Becker via Flickr public domain