Jared Leto, the recent Golden Globe winner and perceived Oscar front-runner for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club,” has made waves yet again — by posing for controversial photographer Terry Richardson.
The photos are here and may not be safe for most workplaces; in them, Leto lifts weights while seemingly nude and poses in only a bath towel. They continue a season of Leto’s onanistic interest in his own body.
At the Golden Globes, Leto’s acceptance speech for best supporting actor described at some length the process by which he transformed his appearance into that of his transsexual character through body waxing. It was a speech that seemed to trivialize the character and transsexual people.
Richardson is the go-to photographer for people looking to make a splash; indeed, he had dressed as a campy, vampy drag queen for Richardson’s cameras in summer of last year. Richardson is also someone who’s been closely scrutinized for alleged sexual assault of his less famous model subjects, though this hasn’t stopped all manner of celebrities (including, recently, Beyoncé) from collaborating with him.
It had seemed, with the widespread criticisms of Beyoncé, that we were at a sort of tipping point when it came to Richardson’s acceptability as a collaborator. Lena Dunham recently described her regrets over working with Richardson and strongly denied being his friend (Richardson had dated her friend) in an email to the Guardian newspaper:
“I’m not big on regrets, but I regret posing for Terry Richardson. As for being friends with him, he’s not and never was my friend. If I was friends with everyone I was thrust into a social situation with, then you could say I was besties with a lot of fucking people. I’m not in the business of indicting my friends for who they are in relationships with, and I’m also not in the business of being BFFs with alleged sexual predators.”
It’s up to the viewer of the photographs to determine just how much Leto’s collaboration with said alleged sexual predator undermines his film’s message of society’s need to provide justice and hope for the most vulnerable. But at least he got another chance to show off the body waxing he’s so intrigued by.