After dealing with her lingering legal woes with Chris Brown, it seems Rihanna will be keeping her legal team busy after all. Yesterday, noted fashion photographer David LaChapelle has filed a lawsuit against the singer for her “S&M” video, claiming it “is directly derived from and substantially similar to the LaChapelle works.”
At the heart of this battle are the similarities between Rihanna’s video and LaChapelle’s editorial work. First, it was the scene of Rihanna walking a gagged blogger with a leash on a lawn- a scene that echoes LaChapelle’s 2002 ‘Aristocrats’ spread for Vogue. Then there is the singer’s latex clad face on a blue background, again eerily similar to another of LaChapelle’s shoots for Vogue. And the cherry on top? Rihanna clad with only newspaper channeling LaChapelle’s profile of Lady Gaga less than a year ago.
LaChapelle is claiming the similarities are more than coincidence and that Rihanna’s video had copied the “composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting’ of his work.”
The video for “S&M” was shot by Melina Matsoukas, who was behind Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” video as well. Though both she and Rihanna have refused to comment on LaChapelle’s lawsuit, sources that worked the set of the video say that images of LaChapelle’s work had been plastered around the set in order for the crew to have the inspiration they needed.
While they say imitation is the highest form of flattery, LaChapelle seems less than pleased by Rihanna’s show. His eye-catching spreads are known to be memorable, a feeling many of his admirers couldn’t shake when watching the various scenes in “S&M.” Even Perex Hilton, who was an extra in the video in question, added his two cents, tweeting, ‘The next time you make a David LaChapelle music video you should probably hire David LaChapelle.’
The lawsuit is the latest problem, “S&M” debacle has brought with it. The single has fizzled compared to “What’s My Name” and the video, with its suggestive images has been banned in some countries for its racy content. LaChapelle is suing for ‘unspecified damages’, which means he could very well receive a chunk of Rihanna’s change for her use of his work.
“S&M” may be her thing, but Rihanna may have to hope the lawsuit is more of a slap on the wrist than a real spanking.
What do you think? Is Rihanna’s “S&M” video just a copy of LaChapelle’s work?