Kathy Griffin Holds Decapitated Donald Trump in Photoshoot: Too Far for Publicity Stunt?

Kathy Griffin Holds Decapitated Donald Trump in Photoshoot: Too Far for Publicity Stunt?

At what point do we say something is too far? My opinion is that using photography as a medium to gain fame, be it good or bad, isn’t a new thing. But as time goes on, seemingly, these things are lacking in taste more and more.

Kathy Griffin recently faced a large backlash for a photoshoot that showed her holding Donald Trump's decapitated head. The old saying "there’s no such thing as bad publicity" seems to be a potential reason for doing something like this. The photographer, Tyler Shields, likely knew it’d go viral, which would spread his name everywhere; even if it’s in bad taste, people are still hearing his name. Personally, I’d stay away from something that goes quite this far with it. In the past, depicting something such as murdering a president even in “acting” was considered a threat and would garner a visit from the FBI, potentially with criminal charges. Now, with the Internet being what it is, people seem to get more brazen.

If someone didn’t like the current president and made a “clown nose” on an image in poking fun, ok sure, whatever. But heinous violence? Especially for a man with children, this is, in my opinion, super tacky. How would you like to have to explain that to your children when they asked what the deal was?

And for Kathy Griffin, is doing what she did, then apologizing somehow going to make it go away? Would she have apologized on her own based on her own morality if the Internet hadn’t flamed her for it? If so, why do it in the first place? If knowing doing something like that causes a firestorm, then apologizing (knowing it doesn't do any good) seems like that was the plan all along, a tacky publicity stunt to try to not become irrelevant in her own industry. Regardless of one’s political opinion, I don’t feel things should ever go this far.

What do you think? Is it worth it to participate in something like this for the publicity, or should morality come into play? And should her apology mean something?

Image source: Tyler Shields (uncensored image is displayed here)

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Patrick Hall's picture

I have noticed on Twitter (where I found this news breaking last night) that lots of people are saying this did indeed happen to Obama. However, when you look at the racist-esque images posted about Obama, it's clear that they were not done by celebrities or people with a large following AND, if it matters, the Obama noose photos were poorly designed dummies that looked pretty silly actually. This one is very graphic and very "well executed" and posted by a celebrity with a ton of reach.

I think you have to look at the response too. Kathy Griffin felt the heat immediately and sent out an apology hours after the image hit the internet which to me shows that she herself knew she was over the line. The last comedian backlash I can recall where it was way over the line was when Michael Richards went off on the black guy in the club.

For me personally, this is less about comedy and more about freedom of speech and maybe some sort of weird art. I don't see how this photo was funny at all (who laughs at this sort of thing) but I don't think it should be illegal to do it either just like it shouldn't be illegal for Richards to say what he said. In both cases the comic has to be ready to take the consequences and clearly it hurt Michael's career and it appears to have already hurt Kathy's a lot.

Felix C's picture

Everyone I know who thinks Trump is the worst president we have ever had all believe this went over the line so I am not sure who you talked to Lee. If someone on the left cannot see how this went over the line then they cannot complain when someone of the right does the same thing.

Rob Mynard's picture

I thought it was hilarious when I first saw it, but I thought it was pretty badly conceived and shot. Less blood on the face but more viscera could have been more striking (wrong word usage I know, but I'm not sure what the equivalent of viscera would be for the neck region).

Donny Cotten's picture

Tell us.. How is he the worst president? Specifically.. You and your leftist friends are just butt hurt that Hillary lost and you hate the man but he has done nothing to be the worst president. How on earth could he ever compare to the train wreck that was Obama...A man that violated the constitution more than a few times, raped morality and divided a nation with his racism and open hatred for anything that was good and decent.

Indy Thomas's picture

I would note that many prominent Republicans called for hanging Obama. Ted Nugent advocated "chopping off Obama's head" yet there was scant comment. Trump called Nugent's comments unfortunate.

This is a lot of false outrage for their base.
I will extend them credulity when they start calling out their own in the same terms.

Robert Nurse's picture

Don't hold your breath waiting.

Rob Mynard's picture

I think a lot of the outrage is just due to party politics. Does anyone remember Erwin Olaf's "Royal Blood" series with Princess Diana?
https://jeannierebecca.com/reviews-and-essays/erwin_olaf_royal_blood/

Jon Winkleman's picture

Lee: Griffin is a satirist and comedian. She has never advocated or incited actual violence. Neither has Tyler Shields. However Alex Jones, Breitbart, Ted Nugent, Ann Coulter and company actually do incite and advocate hate and violence. The loudest critics of Griffin and Shields were silent when people with actual white supremacist leanings were creating multiple images of Obama being lynched which represented an actual desire and not a satirical statement.

Eric Salas's picture

People did do this with Obama when he won both elections.

The backlash she's receiving is the mass reaction intended but not the specific emotion. Sometimes people just need to filter themselves in self-preservation because perception is everything.

I can't stand this administration but I'd never put myself on a pedestal thinking my voice is worth any weight or one that I could easily be shot from ESPECIALLY WITH MY PHOTOGRAPHY. This guy is an idiot.

Jane Callaway's picture

Totally agree that if this had been Obama there would be such a social outcry Kathy Griffin would be sent to donkey island, or worse.

Rob Mynard's picture

But there were these types of images made of Obama, just not by celebrities. Probably because he didn't do as many things to make people so angry they felt they needed to lash out (at least not in the USA, I'm sure there are a number of Iraqi wedding guests who would disagree).

Anonymous's picture

So..."He did it first"? As to the relative anger each president elicited, that's subjective. I could easily name the things Obama did that I liked. The things I didn't like, you don't have that much time.

Tom Cuffari's picture

Is it any wonder that the NEA funding is under attack. Art is supposed to do many things but disgusting people is not one of them. Tyler Shields, shame on you.

Anonymous's picture

You may be the only person on the planet to make this ridiculous, innapropriate connection.

Rob Mynard's picture

Since when is art not supposed to be disgusting? One of the strengths of art is it's ability to create controversy, and through that, discussion.

Anonymous's picture

Congratulations! That was the stupidest comment I've read on this, or any, blog in a long time. Where should I send your prize? It's a mock decapitated head that looks just like one of your children.

Ken Yee's picture

If you have to hesitate before posting something like she claims she did, you know it's probably not a good idea.
Or for another yardstick, if it were done to someone you love instead of hate, would you be offended? I suspect if someone did this to Obama, Kathy would be screaming for blood while screaming "racist!" (Assuming she's pro-obama). That is hypocrisy.

Indy Thomas's picture

She was wrong.
However the hypocrisy is strong with the right.
I note that there are any number of vile memes and images on the internet about the Obamas. In addition, vile comments were made about their daughters and Ted Nugent advocating chopping off the President's head.
Meanwhile several prominent Republicans called for hanging Obama from the WH balcony.
So give up on the hypocrisy gambit as it cuts deeper on the right.

Anonymous's picture

Perhaps as deep, though I doubt it. Definitely not deeper.

Indy Thomas's picture

I would note the faux outrage on the right was weaponized as far back as the Clinton Administration with the first shaky efforts appearing when he was Governor of Arkansas.
Remember when "Character counts!" was the chant of the day?

Anonymous's picture

Trust me, I'm aware of these incidents and didn't like them either. I'm only questioning your assertion that it was worse on the Right. It's gotten so bad, it would be like comparing the number of grains of sand on all the beaches of the world to the stars in the heavens. Count all you like but you won't come up with a conclusive answer. This probably won't surprise you but I'm not prepared to just take some scientists' word for it. I know too many scientists! ;-)

Sean Gibson's picture

Let's not lose focus of the facts here; She has never shown any signs of being even slightly funny, and is doing anything she can to not follow in the footsteps of her comedy twin Carrot Top. Too late Kathy, bye now!

Mark James's picture

I try and avoid the media for just these reasons. I had not seen this, and I'm sad she is getting all of this publicity. She is just trolling and FS took the bait. Hate and poison like this should be buried, not spread.

Patrick Hall's picture

Well to be fair here, the bait she set out just lost her millions in dollars and she was canned from her most public gig which was hosting CNN's New Year's Eve.

Bill Merritt's picture

One head made to look bad for the cameras and the audience, one made up to look good for the cameras and audience. Even decapitated, I think the Donald still looks better than Griffin.

jonas y's picture

What do dose tolerance, peace, and love mean again? I think this is on the border of threatening about beheading someone now, and this is at least wrong and stupid.

joe o sullivan's picture

You can be sure Donnie is going to call her some naughty names on Twitter fairly soon. He might even grab her by the pussy, if he gets a chance.

Randy Laybourne's picture

At what point should the photographer take a portion of the responsibility? I haven't gone in deep on the story but was there any nudging from Tyler Shields?

Simon Patterson's picture

All the criticisms of her aside, which I agree with, she has got her name and face across the world with this. I'd never heard of her before, but now I know her name and I would easily recognise her in future.

Other celebrities would kill to have such amazing exposure - all she had to do was pretend to! So I'd say this woman and her publicity company will be over the moon right now, celebrating about every article like the one we are commenting on here.

Patrick Hall's picture

Eh, she is has been on one of the most watched TV events for 10 years straight (cnn's New Year's Eve show). This is more a career killer than good promotion.

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