Audrey Gelman, if her name means anything to you at all, is best known for being one of Lena Dunham’s best friends. In fact, she is the real life inspiration for the character of Marnie on “Girls” and has appeared on the show herself as Marnie’s ex’s new girlfriend. Gelman is also an accomplished political consultant and the spokesperson for NYC comptroller Scott Stringer. Oh, and until very recently, she was Terry Richardson’s girlfriend of three years. Last week, the pair broke up. The day before, Dunham was at the center of a small Twitter shitstorm over some anti-R. Kelly sentiments she had posted on the site. Many questioned how Dunham could decry Kelly’s history of sexually abusing young teenage girls when she had posed for photographer Terry Richardson, who is well known for preying on young models and coercing them into undressing for him and other lascivious activities. Dunham was photographed by Richardson for a spread in V Magazine, but others pointed out that the two seemingly had a friendship as well, likely built around his relationship with her bestie, Gelman.
Shortly after Gelman and Richardson’s breakup became public knowledge, Dunham responded to the accusations of hypocrisy and, for the first time to my knowledge, indirectly addressed the controversy surrounding Richardson. She tweeted, “I responded asking that my feminism not be picked apart because of one PR experience. You don’t learn to say no overnight.” And after that, “Any man who takes advantage of any woman sickens me. That’s all and that’s always. No debate.” And today, Gelman spoke up for the first time as well, tweeting:
re: terry photos, @lenadunham tried to see the good i saw in someone & we both have regrets. the online discourse on these issues is vital and pushes us forward everyday. biased perhaps, but i see lena as a courageous champion of women, a critical voice who scrutinizes and challenges female representation in the media, and most of all, a wonderful and loyal friend.
Oh, the subtext contained in that first sentence about trying to “see the good” and having “regrets.” I suspect we won’t get much more detail, at least not for awhile, but I think putting the focus of anti-Richardson rage on Dunham, who has technically only “worked” with him once, in a capacity where she very likely had no real power, won’t have much impact anyway. And while I am personally dying to know why a seemingly smart, talented, capable and beautiful young woman like Audrey Gelman dated that grotesque perv Richardson for three years, I guess it’s kind of not my business.
However, that Dunham finally commented on her association with Richardson — and that Gelman made a subsequent admission that they both “have regrets” — suggests that industry acceptance of Richardson is on potentially shaky ground. The fact of the matter is, Richardson is one of the most widely used fashion/celebrity photographers working right now. His personal blog is filled with outtakes from photo shoots for magazines like Harper’s Bazaar, V, Rolling Stone, etcetera. Outtakes from photo shoots featuring models almost always include those models — who usually don’t look a day over 18 — in some state of undress. Practically everything I know about the popularity of certain pubic hair styles comes from the photos on Terry’s blog. The outtakes of celebs (mostly from photo shoots for magazines like the ones I listed above) are usually more clothed and I suspected Richardson is on his “best” behavior during those shoots. But regardless, while I’m sure it’s possible that a few of those celebs are specifically requesting Richardson, it’s the magazines that are ultimately hiring him for those jobs.
Why? I don’t know. I happen to find Richardson’s “talent” tiresome, boring and utterly lacking innovation or soul. And if I see one more celeb wearing that perv’s disgusting glasses and giving the thumbs up — always captioned “[FAMOUS PERSON'S NAME] as me!” — I will barf. Seriously, what is so special about Terry Richardson’s photography? What is so special about his work that it’s worth overlooking well-known sexual harassment allegations? Of course, if you ask me, his talent is irrelevant and the guy should be blackballed regardless of whether his work is genius or mediocre. Dunham has officially made it known that she is aware of and bothered by Richardson’s icky history and indicates she will be saying “no” going forward. And she’s now in a position to do so — her fame is large enough now that she can get away with having demands. So can Beyonce, who hired Richardson to direct the video for “XO,” which is on her new album. (Maybe when Bey is finished watching videos about feminism on YouTube, she could Google “Terry Richardson model allegations.”)
But other people in the position of saying no, who can have an impact on Richardson’s career that he’ll actually feel in his pocketbook, where it counts? The editors, publishers, art and photo directors at the magazines who hire him regularly. Many of them are on Twitter too. It’s beyond time they explain themselves too.