Tyler Shields’ Kathy Griffin photo shoot attracted a firestorm of controversy earlier this week. But the photographer doesn’t appear to be backing down one bit, despite receiving tons of criticism from Donald Trump supporters who took offense to the imagery used in his shoot with the comedian.
The furor started on Tuesday, when photos featuring the 56-year-old Griffin posing with what looked like the bloodied, severed head of President Donald Trump made the rounds, raising the ire of Trump supporters, common people, and celebrities alike. As the Inquisitr wrote, these pro-Trump celebrities included Roseanne Barr, who posted a strongly-worded tweet threatening to slap anyone who would upset her young grandsons, whom she pointed out are about the age of the president’s youngest son, 11-year-old Barron Trump.
First Lady Melania Trump was another high-profile and very vocal critic of Tyler Shields’ Kathy Griffin photo shoot, as she called the photo depicting her beheaded husband “very disturbing” while suggesting Griffin may have some mental health issues. This came on the heels of reports that Barron Trump was particularly affected by the photo after coming upon it while watching television.
Likewise, Griffin’s co-host on CNN’s annual New Year’s Eve shows, Anderson Cooper, admitted to being “appalled” by the photos. Kathy would later ask Shields to take the image down and issue an apology, admitting the photo was “too disturbing” for her tastes.
TMZ Live: Kathy Griffin: Artist Stands By Beheading https://t.co/lvaocGyzEq— TMZ (@TMZ) June 1, 2017
Despite the widespread criticism he’s received for his recent work with Griffin, Shields, 35, appeared unfazed when asked Wednesday night for comment on the matter and how the uproar over the photo shoot ultimately cost Kathy her job as CNN’s New Year’s Eve show host.
TMZ was able to catch up with Tyler Shields, who, when asked about the Kathy Griffin controversy, didn’t appear to be in the mood to offer much comment. But when TMZ pressed him and asked him if he’d do the photo shoot again if he had a chance, Shields opened up and offered a succinct defense of the shoot.
“Yeah, the thing is, honestly, I got no comments. Only thing is, if you make art, you’ve got to stand by it, that’s it.”
TMZ also asked Shields if he’d do a similar photo shoot depicting another politician or with a different celebrity. While he didn’t give a direct yes or no answer, he again defended what he does without going into any detail; as it seemed, he was more concerned about eating the ice cream he had just purchased at Gelson’s supermarket in Los Angeles, where TMZ had run into him for the interview.
“Can’t censor myself, man.”
This isn’t the first time Tyler Shields’ photography has earned him tons of negative criticism for its controversial content. In 2011, Shields shot Glee star Heather Morris in a series of photos where she appeared to have a black eye, seemingly a victim of domestic abuse, as many had observed. According to the Daily Mail, Shields denied that he meant to glorify violence of any kind, as he issued an apology and offered to auction three of the photos for an anti-domestic abuse initiative started by Glamour Magazine.
Yahoo Style also wrote that the Tyler Shields/Kathy Griffin collaboration added to Tyler’s reputation as the “bad boy of photography” and someone who doesn’t shy away from controversial content. Shields was not available to comment when pressed by the publication for his take on the Griffin photo shoot, but Yahoo Style quoted the photographer’s comment to the Dallas Observer in January about his sense of humor and the lines people feel it crosses.
“I am sure there is a line, I have just never seen it.”
Yahoo Style also brought up several other controversial Tyler Shields photos, including images of actress Lindsay Lohan stained in blood, Arrow star Colton Haynes in drag, and a photo of a Louis Vuitton trunk “burned to death.”
What are your thoughts on Tyler Shields’ refusal to apologize for the Kathy Griffin photos? Do you believe art should have some form of censorship, or should controversial creators like Shields be encouraged to keep pushing the boundaries with their works?
[Featured Image by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images]