Does Terry Richardson Get a Free Pass?

So, in case you missed the cover of this month’s GQ, here it is:

Courtesy of The Wall Street Journal

Yep. The ever-tasteful Terry Richardson shot this spread, he of recent alleged sexual harassment fame.

A lot of the press surrounding this cover deals with the unsettling aspect of the PR machine that is “Glee,” but I’m more concerned with the photographer.

Earlier this year former models of his complained of being sexually harassed by him, coerced into either participating in a nude shoot that they weren’t comfortable with, or into sex acts.  Maybe then, GQ should have rethought assigning him a photo shoot where he’s photographing women who play teenagers on TV?

This isn’t a Terry Richardson-specific issue.  It’s hard to live in New York and not get some inkling that the lives of the glitterati, specifically the fashion industry, often seem devoid of values. Marc Jacobs has defended Richardson. He has the seal of approval from New York fashion queen Anna Wintour.  Scores of celebrities (and, apparently, our President) happily work with him, acknowledging his artistry.

Some people think Terry Richardson shoots a great photo, and that’s what’s important.  (People who revere Roman Polanksi make a similar argument).  But does artistry absolve him of behaving professionally and within the limits of the law on photo shoots?

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46 Responses to Does Terry Richardson Get a Free Pass?

  1. Sarah Ewald says:

    I don’t subscribe to a “free pass,” but I think the degree of excusing behavior hinges on that person’s accomplishments.

    To borrow another example: Remember in 2005, when Kate Moss was busted for coke? She was dropped from many of her contracts, and where was she three months later? Back on top.

    For me, I read that as she’s contributed so much to the fashion world that they’re looking past this. (They were probably thinking about how much revenue and branding her contracts would lose if terminated.) A lesser-known model would not have had that experience of getting work at that same caliber as before.

    Polanski made “Chinatown.” Richardson…takes hyper-stylized commercial-use photos.

    I’m not excusing Polanski or what he did, but I think a lot of people will agree he’s contributed more to lasting Western culture than Richardson has thus far, and probably ever will.

  2. Everyone knows Terry Richardson is a sleazeball. He DOES force his ideas upon his subjects/models, those ideas being equivalent to soft core porn. Unfortunately, the situation is a tricky one; models and celebrities feel like they’re passing up a perfect opportunity for publicity or shelf-life if they pass on a Richardson shoot. His fashion spreads have a raw quality that has grown eponymous with his name, and they do extremely well $$-wise when it comes to covers. They also get circulated around the internet more so than the work from a lot of other fashion photographers.

    The models who stood up and accused him of sexual harassment were courageous, ’cause in that business, it doesn’t take much to get black-balled for talking poorly about such a big name. But alas. I guess the moral of this story is: when one is talented and a MAN, he seems to be able to get away with much more than the average creep would. All because he’s a kick ass photographer. And he’s not even the best.

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