Earlier this week, New York Magazine published a cover story titled “Is Terry Richardson an Artist or a Predator?” That question has followed Richardson for years now — with some models accusing him of wildly unprofessional, exploitive, inappropriate, perhaps criminal behavior during photo shoots, and others defending him against those charges. Richardson has done lots of music videos, too, of course — you might remember, for instance, Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video, which led to a series of open letters with Sinead O’Connor regarding the exploitation of young women in the music industry. Anyway, last fall, Lady Gaga shot a video with Richardson, for her Artpop album track “Do What U Want,” which was initially slated for release in December 2013. But that clip was shelved, wrote Gaga in January of this year, due to unarticulated transgressions by unnamed members of Gaga’s team whom she claimed:
…betrayed me gravely mismanaged my time and health and left me on my own to damage control any problems that ensued as a result.
You can try to parse that statement but unless you’re part of Lady Gaga’s inner circle, you won’t succeed. ANYWAY, today Page 6 posted a story about the video in question, saying that the clip was scrapped due to the growing controversy surrounding Richardson, as well as the ever-present controversy surrounding R. Kelly, who was a guest in both the song and its video treatment. Page 6 quotes a source as saying, “Gaga had a video directed by an alleged sexual predator, starring another sexual predator. With the theme, ‘I’m going to do whatever I want with your body’? It was literally an ad for rape.” And there are details of the clip, too:
According to our source, Kelly plays a doctor in the video, with Gaga acting as his patient in scenes that riff on her real-life hip injury last year.
Gaga asks Kelly, “Will I ever be able to walk again?” The singer replies, “Yes, if you let me do whatever I want with your body.” The not-so-good doctor then adds, “I’m putting you under, and when you wake up, you’re going to be pregnant.”
Gaga spent 10 months with Richardson between 2010 and 2011 while he documented her life for an eventual photo book, so presumably she knew the guy’s deal, but who knows? And she released a promo shot for the video last December (a remarkable THREE DAYS before the Village Voice published its massive recap of the sexual-assault accusations made against Kelly in the late ’90s!), in which she’s wearing a bikini, being straddled by Kelly, in a position that at least suggests he might urinate on her:
Point is, Gaga doesn’t exactly seem like a totally innocent party here, but whatever. Earlier today, TMZ tracked down a clip from the video, and nothing mentioned in the initial description seems inaccurate. Maybe not “literally” an ad for rape, but certainly a playful endorsement of rape. It’s bizarre, and I can’t imagine anyone involved is too upset that this one got squashed. Watch:
But again, who knows? They made the video in the first place. And maybe they leaked it, too. (Yeah, yeah, haha “leaked.”) As model Charlotte Free said in her defense of Richardson:
I love Terry’s raw sexuality, it’s one of the things I really admire about him. Terry likes to do sexy stuff, that’s his shit. If you don’t wanna be part of it, make it clear in the beginning. Don’t willingly blow the man and get all mad and ashamed later. I hate when girls say, ‘But he asked me to.’ You should have said ‘No,’ then, stupid bitch!
There’s plenty of other girls waiting in line, so he’s not forcing you to do shit. When you make a choice you have to live with it — unless someone got you fucked up against your will. That’s how I feel about it.”
I don’t get a vote, but I dunno … I think predator, probably.