Thursday, October 03, 2013

An open letter to Terry Richardson


I have probably not done a very good job of this but I have tried!

Basically Sinead O'Connor has written this open letter to Miley Cyrus in which she sends a garbled but possibly well meaning message about the way she is being exploited. I think that she would have been better off sending the letter to Terry Richardson  the man who made the video that has upset Sinead so much (Wrecking Ball). Instead it's full of victim blamey stuff like "when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted" and "We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals"

Anyway - this is my first attempt, it was hard to do because when I got to the bit about prostituting herself I had no real idea how to change that without offending those who work happily in the sex industry (though that is a whole different debate!)

I didn't like Sinead's victim blaming, I don't particularly like the video for wrecking ball. I can't get how Miley Cyrus went to Richardson saying she wanted to do something in honour of the 'nothing compares to you' video and then ended up with someone crowbarring naked shots of her gyrating on a pile of rubble. Or maybe I can get it - that's what happens to artists in the music business, particularly young attractive ones. Maybe Miley Cyrus came up with the whole concept herself, and of course she has every right to. Given Richardson's reputation (Read the wikipedia link) it doesn't sound like it was her idea. Yet who gets all the shit for the video? All the name-calling, the derision, the blame. Yes Miley. same as she did for the VMAs performance.

Anyway - here it is. Needs work but I tried...

Dear Terry Richardson,
I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today I’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon Miley Cyrus having said in Rolling Stone that your “Wrecking Ball” video was designed to be similar to the one for “Nothing Compares” … So this is what I need to say … 

I am extremely concerned  that people like you have encouraged artists like Miley Cyrus that it is in any way “cool” to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos.  It is in fact the case that you are obscuring her talent by allowing her to be pimped, whether it’s the music business or the artist doing the pimping.

Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from exploiting other people, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of female artists or any other young women, for you to send across the message that they are to be valued (even by themselves) more for their sexual appeal than their obvious talent.

I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for Miley and I hope that because of that she will pay close attention to what I am telling you. 

The music business doesn’t give a shit about artists like Mile Cyrus, or any of us. They will prostitute artists for all they are worth, and cleverly make them think it’s what they wanted and IF they end up in rehab as a result of the criticism thrown at them because of your explotation, you will be sunning yourself on your yachts in Antigua, which you bought by selling other people’s bodies who find themselves alone and unfairly criticised.

None of the men oggling Miley give a shit about her; I hope she is not fooled. Many’s the woman manipulated into mistaking lust for love.  you don’t give a fuck about her. All the more obvious when you deliberately allow other people to perpetuate the myth that she doesn’t give much of a fuck about herself and when her record company employs people like you who don’t give much of a fuck about her either. No one who cares about Miley could support your contribution to Miley’s career, and that includes you.

Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for Miley Cyrus. That has to change. Artists should be protected from predatory people like you within the music industry.  This is a dangerous world but everyone should be encouraged to treat other people with respect and dignity including knowing when not to be threatening, predatory and sleazy. Unfortunately a distressing majority of threatening, predatory and sleazy people work in the music industry and its associated media.

Miley is worth more than her body or her sexual appeal but if she chooses to include that in her art then it should be done free of explotation by people like you and free from misdirected criticism from other people who do not understand the way the patriarchy colours the experience of all artists in a negative way.  The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want Artists on their cover, or whatever.. Don’t be under any illusions, I know your game... you all continue to exploit Artists you because with you are making money off their youth and their beauty and they are vunerable in an industry which refuses to change its treatment of the Artist.

I repeat, Miley has enough talent that she doesn’t need to let the music business mould her into this one dimensional sex object. You shouldn’t be allowed to make a fool of her either. I don’t think for a moment that you give a flying fuck about Miley Cyrus. You're there for the money.. She is there for the music. It has always been that way but I hope it will not always be that way. Things need to change so that she can be REALLY in control.You can change them.

Miley said in Rolling Stone that her look is based on mine. The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to allow others to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age.. which unfortunately many female artists, who's managers have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.

Real empowerment of woman would be to in future refuse to make videos for artists which exploit their body or their sexuality in order for men to make money from them. I needn’t even ask the question.. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that you are making more money than Miley is from getting naked. It’s really not at all cool. Please in future make videos that do not rely on an artist having unnecessary sexual exploits and nakedness crow-barred into their videos. Miley can do whatever she wants to do with her body but please educate yourself on why it’s not cool that she or any other artist gets naked just for the sake of it with no relevance to her art.

As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image if someone is telling Miley that getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect her talent. Her records are good enough for her not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She’s waaaaaaay gone by now.. Not because she got naked but because she makes great records.

Women  in the industry shouldn’t have to be the sole role models for women. Men like you should be doing a hell of a lot more to change attitudes. The message you keep sending is that it’s somehow cool to be persuading Artists to deviate from the ideas they come to you with for their videos with, ‘I know, why don’t you take your clothes off’ . It’s so not cool Terry,  it’s dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality, we are not merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your industry.. that they and you are worth more than what you are currently representing in the media. Kindly fire any motherf—er who hasnt expressed alarm, because they don’t care about any of this.

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