Sean Lennon Defends His Homage Portrait After Backlash

Sean Lennon and his model girlfriend, Kemp Muhl, recently posed for a photo homage to Annie Leibovitz’s iconic Rolling Stone cover depicting Sean’s parents, Yoko Ono and John Lennon. But unlike the original, which was taken just hours before Lennon’s assassination and featured a naked John curled up to a clothed Yoko, in Terry Richardson’s version for Purple Magazine, Sean took his mom’s position while Kemp got nekkid to play Lennon. [Huffington Post]

Lots of peeps, including many of you, thought the remake was a cheap objectification of ladyfolk. But Sean Lennon spoke back this week to New York Magazine on his intentions.Apparently, the photograph wasn’t set up—just a tongue-in-cheek snapshot. Sean explains:

“Basically what happened was, we were in bed. We kind of thought that it would be funny if she just rolled over and did that shot. I didn’t want them to put it out necessarily. It wasn’t this like, ‘Oh, let’s do this shot!’ It wasn’t set up. And then they just put it out. I didn’t even remember it until I started getting this vehement hate mail…It seems that people are a little bit uptight these days, I guess.”

The photograph was taken in Yoko Ono’s house, which I guess is really warm. Sean thinks he looks groders with sweaty pit stains—but, apparently, Yoko thinks the photograph is cute. When asked what Annie Liebovitz would think of the shot, Sean said, “I can’t imagine that she would care either … She seems to have other things on her mind these days. Like money.”

While this photo was an obvious nod to his parents, Sean’s constantly criticized that he’s trying to be his father. “One time I was walking down the street and a paparazzi took a snapshot of us. And then there were like all these headlines in like England about ‘Sean tries to re-create a picture of his parents because Sean had a hat on,'” said Sean. “And I was wearing glasses, which I have to wear because I have prescription glasses. They were like, ‘How dare he try to be his Dad?’ I thought that was just so funny. I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t even want that picture to be taken. I’m like walking to the grocery store.'” [NY Mag]

I definitely understand the argument about role reversals and how the original portrait depicted John’s utter love and vulnerability in an unconventional way while the homage showed a typical sexualized female form. But I don’t agree with the Sean-bashing. The photo was taken in good fun—it wasn’t a publicity stunt. And why shouldn’t Sean want to worship his father? Sean is talented in his own right. Have you guys heard Cibo Matto’s “Stereo Type A”? It’s an amazing record! Sean himself tried to play down his heritage, saying once, “I think I found the only label on the planet who doesn’t care who my parents are and what my name is. It’s a good feeling to know that I wouldn’t have gotten the offer if they wouldn’t have liked my songs. That’s pretty rare in the music business.” [Superior Pics]

I know you guys got heated up before, but does anyone think maybe Sean Lennon deserves to catch a break?