Today Kathy Griffin made a video apologizing for a photograph of herself holding a bloody bust of America’s aspiring dictator, Donald Trump. The picture was the work of photographer Tyler Shields. The video consists of Ms. Griffin begging for our forgiveness and stating “I crossed the line. I move the line, then I crossed it. I went way too far and I was wrong. “
When I searched Google, I noticed that there were many articles condemning Ms. Griffin and the photo. Some articles criticized Ms. Griffin’s poor taste and others called for a criminal investigation of the comic, as they perceived the photo as a death threat. The Secret Service implied they were conducting an investigation over the snapshot.
I was shocked to see that there was little discussion of Mr. Shields and his work and not a single word about his artistic intention in creating the portrait. In the first place, blaming Ms. Griffin for Mr. Shields photograph is like blaming the melting watch if you don’t like a Dali painting. In the second place, condemning the photograph rather than discussing its meaning is the ultimate example of American anti-intellectualism and sloth.
Tyler Shields has always been a controversial photographer. Much of his work criticizes the beauty industry and features woman with knives to their faces or blow dryers pointed at their heads as if they were guns. The photograph of Ms. Griffin shows the comedian holding America’s most famous golfing and borsht enthusiast bloody and decapitated head up by its fluffy orange hair, She is dressed in a conservative blue dress and wears a stoic expression.
I believe Mr. Shields was making a statement about the manner in which comedians have been the most astute observers of Mr. Trump’s shortcomings and the most successful at communicating these shortcomings to the public.
My assessment of the piece maybe incorrect, of course. Anyone who has a different opinion of the piece is certainly welcome to disagree with me. Ya see, art is supposed to prompt discussion and stir up controversy. It is supposed to be interactive and make people think.
Many people have said the photo is crude and only meant to shock people. Take a good look at the photo. The sculpture of Trump is exceptional. I think the composition of bold colors works very well.
Unfortunately, we are living in a world in which thinking has gone out of style. Instead of discussing the photograph as a piece of art, people quickly attacked the subject of the photograph rather than the artist. CNN fired Ms. Griffin from her New Year’s Eve anchoring job and she asked the photographer to take the photo down.
Television talk shows were a buzz with the controversy. The ladies of, The View said the photos were offensive because they, “weren’t funny.” CBS News blurred the photo because they thought it was “disturbing.” NBC called the bust extremely graphic and Chelsea Clinton said it was, “vile and disgusting.”
It is entirely possible that the photo was not intended to by funny, but rather thought provoking. Just because a comedian is the model does not mean it was supposed to be funny (or at least not ha ha funny).
Anyone who thinks this is a death threat is an idiot. Mr. Shields also photographed the comedian taking a scissors to her tongue; I’m surprised no one thought she actually chopped off the appendage.
The famously appearance conscious Ms. Griffin appears in the video wearing no make-up. As she has had a great deal of plastic surgery and admits to covering her entire body in cosmetics when she wears a bathing suit; this could not have been a well-planned decision. She clearly felt a sense of urgency to apologize. If it had just been her conscious bothering her, she would have gotten into makeup, dressed and made the video. I believe she was bullied into apologizing for participating in the piece and this is far more terrifying then the piece itself.
I do not claim to be an art critic, an intellectual or even a collector of photographs. I am a customer service representative who decorates her studio apartment with postcards and movie posters. I am also an American who believes in the First Amendment and in the discussion of art rather than its censure.
Bullying artist and artist models into complacency is one of the characteristics of fascism. If someone doesn’t care for a work of art they are certainly allowed to say so and say why they feel this way, but no one should ever be censored or fired simply for self-expression.
Now, just in case the Secret Service is reading this (and they aren’t), I am not going to behead the president. I wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole or piss on him if he were on fire no matter how much he offered me for the task. There’s nothing in that head that is of any value to me or anyone else in the world. I just thought I would put it bluntly, less I should be misunderstood.