When Rihanna's "S&M" video was released earlier this month, its racy imagery grabbed headlines and the clip was banned in at least 11 countries. Now the video is garnering even more negative attention, with photographer David LaChapelle saying in a lawsuit made public Monday (February 14) that the clip is "directly derived" from his work.
According to Reuters, the suit says eight of the fashion photographer's images were copied in the video and that the "composition, total concept, feel, tone, mood, theme, colors, props, settings, decors, wardrobe and lighting" mimicked his work. LaChapelle, who has snapped celebs' pictures for Rolling Stone and many other magazines, is suing for unspecified damages.
Side-by-side comparisons of LaChapelle's photos and Rihanna's video hit the Web days after the clip's premiere, with online commentators crying foul.
The "S&M" video was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who has faced plagiarism accusations before — with another Rihanna video, no less. Last year, the Matsoukas-directed clip for Rihanna's "Rude Boy" was called out by producer Diplo for looking strikingly similar to M.I.A.'s "Boyz" video.
At the time, Matsoukas defended her work and only copped to being inspired by similar themes. "I mean, you know that the video lends from a lot of Rasta culture and '80s Atari vibe, and that's what we went with too," Matsoukas told MTV News in February 2010. "And then afterward I was like, 'Oh, this sucks. They tore down my video.' And her video's great too. It definitely wasn't trying to rip anybody off at all — it was just our approach and the animation stuff, it had a similar vibe. We've seen that before with Grace Jones and Andy Warhol, so I don't know if anybody can lay claim to anything. We're all inspired by similar elements and it came together in that way."
MTV News also spoke with Matsoukas the week "S&M" premiered, before the lawsuit was filed, and she wasn't fazed by the controversy surrounding the risqué video.
"When I go out to make something, I kind of go out with the intention to get it banned — [well] not to get it banned, I always want my stuff played — but to make something provocative," Matsoukas told MTV News. "So when you do something that's provocative, that's usually a repercussion. It's gonna be talked about or banned or slandered in some way. But it's making an effect and people are having a dialogue about it, so, to me, that's successful."
What do you think of LaChapelle's accusations? Let us know in the comments.