The photographer who worked with Kathy Griffin to create a set of disturbing, offensive images is now speaking out about the incident.
Tyler Shields claims to have been surprised by the outrage expressed after he photographed Griffin holding what appeared to be President Donald Trump’s severed, bloody head. Shields said, “‘Wow, I didn’t think that could still even happen.”
In May, Griffin’s self-described artistic photo shoot outraged the nation and was extremely upsetting for many, including President Trump’s children. In fact, the president’s 11-year-old son Barron thought the photo was real. Barron saw the sickening image of Griffin, smugly displaying the bloody head that resembled his father, on the news. He reportedly panicked, thinking his father had actually been killed.
Nonetheless, Shields seems bewildered by the public’s reaction and makes no apologies. Speaking to Architectural Digest, Shields said Griffin was “in a tough place” and he urged her to ride out the backlash, sure that the incident would blow over.
He compared the adverse response to the repercussions the Dixie Chicks suffered after singer Natalie Maines said in 2003 that she was “ashamed” of then-President George W. Bush. Public reaction from their fan base was not favorable.
Speaking about the reaction, Shields said: “The day that we realized this was going to be really crazy — I don’t remember if it was the day after, or a couple days later — I called Kathy and I said to her: ‘Listen, this happened with the Dixie Chicks, if you remember, with the George W. Bush thing, and people were burning their albums, and driving over their albums, or whatever.’”
“Kathy was in a tough mental place,” Shields continued. “And I said, ‘Kathy, this happened [to them] and they thought they were over, and they had that song and it wasn’t an apology, and it ended up being their biggest song ever, but it took time.’”
Shields believes that the bands’ criticism of Bush was ahead of its time, and so was the photo shoot he did with Griffin.
“When they said what they said, people weren’t ready to hear it,” Shields explained. “When we did that photograph, people hadn’t seen anything like that before. That’s the point of living in this country: You can make something people don’t like.”
Shields admitted that he was surprised by the fact that people weren’t ready for his brand of shock art.
“There was a part of me, when that happened, I was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think that could still even happen. I didn’t think you could have something go big like that anymore,’” he said.
In the video below, Griffin and Shields conspire to produce the sickening image earlier this year. As they review their work, Griffin says the two may need to move to Mexico and suggests they might be jailed for the image as Shields laughs, then jokes, “This moment right here, that’s the jail moment.”
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