Rihanna just can't seem to escape controversy. The famous Vogue photographer/director David LaChapelle says the director she hired for her latest video "S&M," Melina Matsoukas, blatantly ripped off his work.
LaChapelle even took to Twitter to blast Rihanna and her music video co-star blogger Perez Hilton back on February 6. The artist tweeted: "The next time you make a David LaChapelle music video you should probably hire David LaChapelle."
He's since deleted the tweet, but now the photog is actually suing Rihanna for appropriating and copying the "composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe, and lighting" of his photographs, including key scenes such as her latex outfit, her walking of a security guard (which is nearly identical, he said, to his 2002 photograph for Vogue), and newspaper-inspired outfit. He says that there are eight sequences in all that steal from his well-known work.
If you're not familiar with the works in question that LaChapelle is accusing Rihanna of pilfering, The Daily Mail posted a side-by-side comparison.
The similarities are striking, and I don't blame LaChapelle for taking this to court. Although I'm not really sure why he's suing Rihanna and not Matsoukas, who a source said left LaChapelle's work lying around "for inspiration" during the video shoot. But it is Rihanna's video, and I'm sure she wasn't completely unaware of what was going on.
Then again, it seems hard to say that LaChapelle should have exclusive rights to some of this imagery. A latex dress is a latex dress ... his photograph of Gaga is much more original and interesting than the clip of Rihanna walking against a newspaper collage background in a Playboy get-up, etc. But when you see the photo entitled "Striped Farce" by LaChapelle and compare it to the similar scene from the video, well, the filching there is just conspicuous.
Ever since listening to Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" on Friday, then hearing people squawk that it's a rip-off of Madonna's "Express Yourself," I've been mulling over this idea of tribute vs. plagiarism in pop culture. In my opinion, "Born This Way" does not sound exactly like "Express Yourself." Yeah, it has similar qualities, but it is different enough for listeners to be able to distinguish between the two songs. It doesn't even sound like Gaga sampled "Express Yourself" -- if anything, it feels like a tribute to me.
But ... in the case of Rihanna vs. LaChapelle, when you watch the video as a whole, there's no question. It's not a tribute, it's not a sampling, and the "S&M" video wasn't just inspired by LaChapelle. It feels more like a retrospective tribute to LaChapelle's famous works. Except, of course, with LaChapelle suspiciously missing from the whole undertaking. Did Matsoukas and Rihanna really think they'd get away with this? It'll be interesting to see how the conflict works itself out in court ...
Do you think Rihanna blatantly ripped off LaChapelle?
Image via YouTube.com