Lindsay Lohan for Tyler Shields
Photographer Tyler Shields is planning on releasing an old body of work depicting a skimpily dressed Lindsay Lohan battered, bloodied, being choked, and at gunpoint in a May 8 warehouse show. Sounds iffy to us, but what’s even more iffy is that Banksy supposedly helped Shields land the Los Angeles space — also the location for his 2006 Barely Legal show. Whether Lindsay’s for or against their release (and, to be honest, the latter would shock us more), we’d put these stark, chilling images in the “repulsive” category.
Lady Gaga for Ellen von Unwerth
No one does the shocking image like Lady Gaga, and the above Out magazine snap by Von Unwerth, a photographer known for her interest in erotic femininity, is probably one of her tamer shots, considering the barrage of sado-masochistic and downright disturbing images Gaga sends our way. It’s not a surprise that Gaga started incorporating morbid themes into her brand so early on, but at what point will the stakes be too high to raise? We look forward to future red carpets, Gaga, if only to see how you answer that question.
Lady Gaga for Ellen von Unwerth, part 2
What’s that? Oh, nothing. Just Lady Gaga hanging out in a graveyard, looking like she’s planning to feast on some flesh. It’s no surprise that Gaga appears twice on this list, and the shoot, themed around a ’50s horror movie, isn’t necessarily surprising, either.
James Franco for Terry Richardson
Terry Richardson’s had a few fingers wagged in his direction for the contexts in which he’s put his celebrities (racy Glee shoot, anyone?), but this James Franco shot went pretty under the radar — perhaps because it somehow manages to be half as menacing as it should be. (Or is that just us?) As edgy as James Franco tries to be, what with the art shows and short story collections, we may never really see him any differently than we did in his Freaks and Geeks and Pineapple Express days.
Janet Jackson for Matthew Rolston
In promoting her album Discipline, Janet appeared in Black Book looking all sorts of masochistic. Yeah, yeah. We get the connection. We also get how it’s provocative and, for some, kind of kinky. It’s compelling without being too disturbing, so we can stomach this one without too much of a problem. Still, if we have any nightmares about being stuck in torture devices, we’ll know who to blame.
America’s Next Top Model‘s murder-themed shoot
After its umpteenth season of trying to prove how creative and challenging the world of fashion photography is, ANTM and its waifish hopefuls raised some hell among feminists over their 2007 murder-themed shoot. The pictures featured girls asphyxiated, electrocuted, covered in blood, and portrayed as mangled corpses. Even better, judges’ commentary included such gems as, “What’s great about this is that you can also look beautiful in death.” Weird, weird, a thousand times weird! The show, intentionally or otherwise, highlighted the fashion industry’s taste for and encouragement of corpse-like models. For us, it was a reminder: just because you’ve got a bunch of blood and dramatic lighting doesn’t mean it’s a profound shoot. In fact, it’s more likely that you have a murder scene on your hands, but maybe that’s just the traditionalist in us.
Taylor Momsen for Jonathan Pushnik
Give us a picture of Taylor Momsen in a field of bunnies wearing a modest sundress and we’ll still tell you it’s morbid: the painfully thin teen starlet, who’s been going through an especially uncomfortable “bad girl phase,” can’t help but embody violent death. For her infamous Revolver spread that had moms ’round the world locking up their 17-year-olds, she’s carrying two kinds of guns and sporting a glare that could kill on its own. Of course, Momsen is also wearing more eye makeup than pants! (Always a classy choice, whether it was hers or the stylist’s.)