OUR COLUMNIST MIKE SAYS ABOUT TERRY RICHARDSON’S ABUSIVE BEHAVIOUR THE FOLLOWING:
‘This creature brings to mind two events for me.
One is the BBC’s “uncovering” of the decades of abuse by Jimmy Savile and others. It has the same sense of:
1. “everyone suspected” (read “knew but didn’t take any action”).
2. The celebrity was too powerful and influential, so people were scared to take action for fear of repercussions.
3. The time and environment was more “open” and “permissive” (which still doesn’t make abuse less abuse or exploitations less exploitative).
4. The victims are those who are placed in a confusing situation (issues of trust, power and hope) and then taken advantage of (children with their adult icon in the Savile case) or (aspiring models in the Richardson situation).
The second is a book I am reading on cults, which describes both those who become cultic leaders and those who become followers. There are some chilling similarities with this Richardson character and, if the stories of the aspiring models are true (and there is no reason to suspect they are not), the methods used to “persuade” the models to comply, as well as the legal aspects of the release form.
I imagine there are some models who are confident, intelligent and pragmatic and enter the field with eyes open and avoid these types of pitfalls, compromises and predators. I also imagine this industry is full of those who are not confident, intelligent, experienced or grounded, and seek a dream of glamour, wealth and celebrity but have no concept of how to go about it, and no one to advise them on a safe path for their career. I would think that these would be the types who are starstruck by the name and CV of Richardson, and would think that what he asks is what is needed. I also imagine he possesses some level of charisma and cunning.
Of course the grey area is where does someone move from becoming a consenting individual to an exploited and abused victim?
What are the moral and legal responsibilities of someone in Richardson’s place?
Where is the line between art and pornography?
These will be the issues involved in any sort of legal action against Richardson, as well as the shining spotlight on anyone who tries to come forward, as they will not only have to relive the experience, but they will be scrutinized and portrayed in the worst light possible. If many come forward, there may be a chance of something, but that would take a level of courage and support that sadly is often lacking. Still, if these women who are sharing their stories want to take on this alleged sexually abusive, coercive predator, then a group effort will be needed. Like Savile though, once the closet is open, it’s funny how quickly the “friends” of the accused suddenly jump ship and cut ties and fall back onto the excuses of 1 to 3 above.
In my opinion, fashion is a vile industry that thrives on exploitation in all stages from conception, manufacturing, marketing and it’s pervasive and pernicious influence on shaping ideas of body image, self-worth, and even aesthetics.’