I just did an interview about Terry Richardson with a TV station in the UK, and I was infuriated by how many mistakes the journalists had made before they even started the story. Here are ten things the media consistently gets wrong about Terry Richardson.
1. Terry Pressured Models Into Doing Shoots
These girls were not models. Look at Jamie Peck. I’m sure she knows she could never be a model. Even if Anna Wintour was her mom and demanded the fashion world take her daughter seriously, she would not get into Vogue. Personally, I disagree with these rules. She looks just fine to me, but fashion is fickle and this person would never make the cuts. Please point to real models with real careers who claimed he pressured them. Caryn Franklin, the woman I did the TV interview with, says these models’ agents don’t warn them of dangerous situations but the girls making these accusations don’t have agents. They’re not models! This is relevant because the whole motive behind this alleged abuse is they were doing it to get more modeling gigs.
2. Terry Pressured Models Into Having Sex
I have been to dozens of these shoots. If a girl doesn’t want to have sex, she doesn’t have sex. The girls making these allegations claim they had consensual sex but regretted it years later. To say this is a pile of bullshit is to be labeled a #RapeApologist. Who said anything about rape? These social-justice activists have gone way past the allegations and invented way more serious crimes. I’ve even heard them saying, “Nobody is above the law.” What law?
3. Terry Pressured Models Into Having Sex, And They Did It So They Could Get Work
This is the basic premise behind the whole controversy, and not one journalist has bothered to investigate how much influence photographers have in the fashion industry. It sounds like they probably do; ergo, they do. Sorry, that’s not how reality works. When women go to a casting, some gay man looks at them and either says, “Yes” or “Your eyes are too far apart—NEXT.” They don’t give a shit if Terry Richardson once took your picture. Terry could call the casting guy and say, “Book her” and they’d say, “No, her eyes are too far apart” and hang up. You could have a portfolio full of David LaChapelle photos and Tom Ford could be holding your hand, but if your bone structure isn’t what’s in that season, you’re out. This basic truth is the errant thread that unravels the whole sweater. It’s ONLY about what you look like. This is why 15-year-old models are spotted at malls in rural Ohio. It’s like the NBA. If you’re shaped like George Costanza, you’re not getting in, no matter whom you fuck. If this controversy were about casting couches in Hollywood, they’d have a case. This isn’t that.
4. These Poor Models Are Scared To Speak Out
This is true in many industries, but fashion sure as hell ain’t one of them. Peck’s entire career is based on this accusation. Google any of the girls involved. Without feminists fawning over how brave these girls are, you wouldn’t have heard of them. These accusations aren’t career-killing, they’re career-making. If a woman speaks out against sexual harassment and she’s, say, a Hasidic Jew, her life will become hell. If she’s in academia, fashion, or media, she’s basically Joan of Arc.
5. These Poor Girls Didn’t Know What They Were Getting Into
Do these girls not have computer machines? Explicit sexual imagery has been part of Terry’s work since his very first photograph. It’s who he is. How could a girl voluntarily go to Terry’s home for a shoot, for free, and have no idea things might get sexual? Was she doing it for “her book”? Why?
6. Terry Has Built His Career On Pornographic Images
Not really. The Katharine Hamnett campaign that launched his career was a bit sordid. It had young couples fully clothed and making out. It was erotic at best. The cum shots and having fags sucking each other off dressed as Batman and Robin does nothing but lose him money. Clients, his agents, his employees, and virtually everyone who makes money off him HATES the porn shit. It’s bad for business. Sex makes mainstream money. Porn scares it away.
7. The Fashion Industry Is A Male-Dominated Hellhole Where Women Are Treated Like Garbage
It’s a GAY male-dominated industry. Fashion is made by homos and consumed by women. Straight men make up a fraction of 1% of the industry. Yes, these gay men can be cruel. This is because there’s big money at stake, and being a model is fucking easy. All you have to do is be born beautiful and not get fat. It’s a job for attractive, lazy, dumb women and if you give these guys any attitude, you’re gone. Straight men don’t really care what you wear. We like long hair and heels and don’t want you to be too obese, but all of these are negotiable. Women and gays, on the other hand, have ridiculously high standards. Do you honestly think a straight male has ever asked a woman to bleach her asshole? We didn’t invent that shit. You guys did. Virtually every time you hear a woman talking about plastic surgery she’s saying, “My husband says I look fine but I’m not happy with the way I look.”
8. There Are An Increasing Number Of Allegations Against Terry
No, there aren’t. There have been about three, and one of them was proven to be a hoax. Even if they were on the increase, sexual harassment has become a racket here in the States, and once someone gets branded with the scarlet letter, it justifies everyone else’s false claim. Having allegations pile up simply means more sharks sense the bleeding.
9. The Change.org Petition Proves This Is Real
The Change.org petition to deport Justin Bieber has several million signatures. There are Change.org petitions to have R. Kelly record the National Anthem and to get veggie burgers at In-N-Out. All this petition proves is that people are so determined not to see women abused, they don’t bother checking to see if it’s true. The woman who started this petition is some British 18-year-old who got her info from the Internet and has probably never even been on the same continent as Terry. That’s what I find so scary about this whole thing, and it’s why I waste my time arguing with these people. We’re all listening to what babysitters say. Some kid invents a hashtag and entire corporations are assuming it’s true and then act accordingly.
10. Terry Has Created A Culture Of Hypersexualized Women
When has sex not been a huge part of photography? Ever seen the way Helmut Newton portrayed naked women? What about Robert Mapplethorpe (NSFW) and his boy toys? Terry featured naked women having sex, crossing their eyes, and laughing. He never airbrushed a zit off a woman’s ass and was always acting the clown by putting on a stupid costume or even having a guy cum all over his face. I’d argue his photography is actually feminist.
His dad is gay fashion photographer Bob Richardson, and Terry is very much his father’s son—a somewhat fey art kid who grew up around other artists and doesn’t understand what all these first-year college feminists are talking about. If you think he’s a creep, that’s fine. It’s not illegal to be a creep. I think he’s a groundbreaking photographer who brought a punk-rock aesthetic to high-end fashion. He made the dirty side of New York City look beautiful and the most beautiful women in the world look like street kids. In all his work, everyday imperfections were put on a pedestal. This is what his legacy should be, not some grumpy rant a teenager created on her blog. This isn’t a crusade against sexism. It’s a war on art.