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Rhianna- "S&M" (Dir: Melina)

Oh Baby!

budget, February 2, 2011 2:05:23 AM CET

fresh! 90s revivalism has been brewing for a while, great to see it explode in a pop video!

kevathens, February 2, 2011 4:52:53 AM CET

1M views in ā‰ˆ1 day.

Victus, February 2, 2011 6:41:18 AM CET

What kind of coverage is this?

It's very sloppy. It's better if female directors like Melina just get out of the box of antiquity and do something sophisticated. I think female iconography is getting stale, because the inspiration is harkened in the past. And this is the future. Both do clash. How many times can you dress her up and say exactly the same thing as her last video did? it's limitations are starting to show.

Sophie Muller , Floria Sigismondi. Get them. Rianna makes poor choices in directors. Fire her agent.

Good song. And nice things.

shut up, February 2, 2011 2:04:21 PM CET

Perez Hilton - Barf.

my name is legion, February 2, 2011 2:14:32 PM CET


baudfather, February 3, 2011 7:02:29 AM CET

2.6M views after 2 days! Not too shabby.

Artistically, I'm disappointed; Christina's Dirrrty video packed a bigger punch when it came out. This is a very "G" rated video. Considering the title and lyrics of this song, why even bother with a "G" rated version? There's not even a chain in this video!

my name is legion, February 3, 2011 8:20:43 AM CET

captainmarc22, February 5, 2011 1:31:49 PM CET

David LaChapelle was unavailable....

macguffin, February 5, 2011 4:43:05 PM CET

what's a director to do.

quote from Lachapelle in book "Hotel Lachapelle":

"Which brings me to the issue of originality...originality is not about flipping through magazines and getting your inspiration and copying it. It's about coming up with your own ideas....
There's a notion that plagiarism exists only in the verbal, but it actually exists in the visual as well. I believe in getting my ideas through my experience, through my mind's eye, through my dreams and my fantasies, not other people's."

pancho, February 5, 2011 6:51:32 PM CET

haha oops

captainhairy, February 5, 2011 9:04:38 PM CET

damn. stealing a couple ideas and building a new context around them is fine, but this is ridiculous.

kayser_sauze, February 8, 2011 3:44:24 AM CET

interview with Melina

kevathens, February 15, 2011 2:50:14 AM CET

LaChapelle is suing

pancho, February 15, 2011 3:53:24 AM CET

[grabs popcorn]

captainhairy, February 15, 2011 9:38:49 AM CET

So legally, what happens here?
Clearly Melina is the guilty one creatively, but its in the name of the label and artist. could the label potentially turn around and sue Melina's prod company?

Melina should be an art director for a label rather than a director.

my name is legion, February 15, 2011 10:55:14 AM CET

shame on me i wasnt familiar with lachapelles work and didnt realise they stole from him hmmm
i can only applaud lachapelles decision to sue, but makes me wonder if it wasnt him but a less known guy, would that guy have it in him to sue the director/ label/ artist who v stolen his work?

kalstark, February 15, 2011 8:24:39 PM CET

Well this is interesting...

Victus, February 15, 2011 10:45:25 PM CET

Radar online has the documents.

It's an interesting development, which can shake up the creative integrity (or lack of) in the industry only momentarily if this goes to pass. I think that's the point he Lachapelle wants to make, and others can come forward and do the same.

Like the guy who made webcam video which then was blatantly ripped off in a dozen commercials.

Melina shouldn't take all the blame, as it's known the mandate was for a Lachapelle-esque video (which another director passed) she took the ball and ran with it. If the artist, managers, label, pro co and director all agreed to make it why didn't they hire the original? no one said anything when Lacahapelle copied Flashdance on this video (although he licensed it) I think he has a strong case. And spanking the culprits is a hard lesson to force them to be less blatant next time.

The damage would be on Matsouka's end, (great art director) but Rihanna also did MIA one ina href="" this video which asks the question: are directors whom lack distinction basically just hired hands to articulate what the artist / label / corporation wants? It's the same as Lady Gaga making an entire career out of copying Madonna. So she's safe because in music it's an accepted practice.

Homage / steal is a blurry line, which 90% of music video directors rely on to get their inspiration. It's just more obvious now than it was ten years ago, all in all I think Youtube and the Internet has helped bankrupt the true originals because copying it is much easier, and safe. And in return added value / decreased to the original works which are referenced. We'll see how it goes.

kevathens, February 15, 2011 11:06:16 PM CET

..That Rihanna-MIA "Boyz" thing is way over-hyped. Both "Rude Boy" and "Boyz" owe their aesthetics to Neneh Cherry, Technotronic, and the early 90's in general.

..Also, $4 Million dollars is way too much for a failed video campaign.

kalstark, February 15, 2011 11:12:56 PM CET

lol wut,

"[Rihanna] or her representatives asked other directors to "make a "LaChapelle-esque music video," the suit charges. One director rejected the job, while Melina Matsoukas accepted, it says. Matsoukas is named as a co-defendant....

The court documents include eight frames from the final video for comparison with the eight LaChapelle photos....

The requested damages of at least $1 million is the same as LaChapelle's usual fee for directing a music video, it says.

"The music video is of inferior quality to music videos directed by the plaintiff," the suit said."

~from CNN

Seriously though, three things stand out:

  1. Melina is a co-defendant in the case (wow)
  2. LaChapelle's typical rate for a music video is $1 million??? (are the lawyers pulling a fast one and conflating total budget w/ director's rate)
  3. "The music video is of inferior quality..." (OUCH!)

Victus, February 15, 2011 11:15:28 PM CET

I didn't hear about it in the industry since that one got swept under the rug, it's accepted practice to steal. Well we know where the aesthetics come from where do you think it'll lead?

Here's another strong case
in music which is pretty obvious

If madge wanted to jerk her chain she'd sue, but with a bar set so high that wouldn't achieve anything a carbon copy will just pale in imitation. That's what the song is.

lusk81, February 16, 2011 3:03:26 AM CET

It'd be great if people would start smacking ad agencies in the face because 99.9% of ads are a total copy of something else.

baudfather, February 16, 2011 6:30:34 AM CET

I'm really beginning to wonder a few things lately with "fffound" or ripped-off concepts: is there a line that is crossed when a director is inspired by another artist or director? Would simply giving credit be enough? Romanek gave Erwin Wurm credit for RHCP's "Can't Stop" inspiration. What determines the amount of credit due?

I'm curios how copyright law interprets using a scene from a still image and re-interpreting it as a motion picture with subtle changes.

Clearly not all examples fall into one category, and some clearly tread too close to plagiarism.

In this case, I'd be curious to see if managers/labels felt it was too expensive to hire the original creator, and who truly came up with the concept/direction for this video (why would other directors turn down the job?). Perhaps it's time a line needs to be drawn.

my name is legion, February 16, 2011 10:59:30 AM CET

its again

kalstark, February 16, 2011 5:29:08 PM CET

From Joseph Kahn's twitter:

"Turned down a vid cuz they wanted 'visual references.' That vid ended up complete steal of a photographer's work. Yikes."

budget, February 16, 2011 7:12:09 PM CET

ugh, feel really bad for Melina.

pancho, February 16, 2011 7:26:00 PM CET


my name is legion, February 16, 2011 7:28:16 PM CET

because she got caught

budget, February 16, 2011 7:49:24 PM CET

Because it seems like people do this all the time, the lines are blurry, the labels don't seem to care, etc, etc, etc.

captainmarc22, February 16, 2011 10:35:39 PM CET

Booooo LaChapelle. Suing is not the answer!!

First off, I blame Rihanna and Rihanna's managment/label. Melina is often quite original in her videos; I'm assuming on this one she was merely accommodating Rihanna's vision. She should have known better, but as it is I'm sure she's already been "punished" enough.

But a multi-million dollar lawsuit is just fucking lame. LaChapelle isn't some struggling artist; and his brand has in no way been tarnished by this video.

kalstark, February 17, 2011 5:53:25 AM CET

I think this law suit is necessary. Our industry has many unresolved issues regarding directors' intellectual property rights and the proper compensation when the rights are maintained or given up.

In this case it appears as if Rihanna+Label wanted a LaChapelle-esque video but were too cheap to pay for him, Melina was willing to provide a copycat effort and so a treatment was drafted that mentioned LaChapelle by name while also including photos of his work. Then, as opposed to using his intellectual property as a starting point for their own creativity, they attempted to recreate his fashion editorial in motion.

This doesn't seem right and we may need people like LaChapelle to fight this precisely because 'struggling artists' can't without risking their careers. As directors we all find inspiration from the other creative fields but we can't just copy another artist's work and claim it as our own.

That said, I must admit that I actually subscribe to some of the 'we all copy and who cares' school of thought.

After all, everyone who knows of DLC knows that Rihanna's latest effort is a poor man's DLC video. If anything, seeing the resulting video confirms that one should spend the extra money and get the real thing.

Interestingly enough, this is much the way fashion works. The fashion industry allows rampart copying and holds only trademarks to be sacred; yet the industry thrives and Manolo Blahniks still sell (being of much higher quality than the copies). Point being, the people who buy the knock-offs generally couldn't afford to be your customers anyway and all the copying does is force rapid innovation by the actual tastemakers.

Finally, I'm not sure I believe David LaChapelle was harmed here. If anything he comes off looking like the real deal that even a superstar like Rihanna can't afford; this kinda ups his stock.

But, the issue becomes thornier when the power dynamics are reversed. Imagine DLC was an unknown artist (extremely talented but unknown). Now, if Rihanna/Melina copy his work and claim it as their own then DLC, the unknown, has just been screwed. And, as we know, this happens all the time to creative youtubers/vimeo peeps who get their work ripped by ad agencies.

Suffice it to say, I find this issue to be a complex and important one in our creative but still wild west-like field.

TLDR: 'To copy or not to copy, that is the question.'

my name is legion, February 17, 2011 10:31:07 AM CET

But, the issue becomes thornier when the power dynamics are reversed. Imagine DLC was an unknown artist (extremely talented but unknown). Now, if Rihanna/Melina copy his work and claim it as their own then DLC, the unknown, has just been screwed. And, as we know, this happens all the time to creative youtubers/vimeo peeps who get their work ripped by ad agencies."

my point exactly

kalstark, February 17, 2011 3:05:14 PM CET

Part of the problem may also be the video commissioners/label doing their jobs inadequately. As a director, I've noticed that over the last ten years, coinciding with the massive budget cuts in the music industry, that I've been dealing with less and less professional people on the label side.

Years ago every single job would go out with a specifications sheet that outlined the band, song title, budget, a copy of the song, lyrics, and information about where the label wanted to take the band. It was a small package, usually only one or two pages, but at least it gave directors an idea of the bigger picture.

Nowadays, more often than not, we're given little more than, 'do u want to write?' in an email followed by 'sent from my Blackberry'. About 1 in 4 actually expect us to source the song ourselves with some even going so far as to suggest purchasing it on iTunes.

A lot of the time we aren't even provided with the budget for the job and have to best guess what the label will cough up based on the star power of the artist (I assume labels are doing this because they think they'll get a better price if we have to throw out the first number) and I haven't seen a lyric sheet in so long I've forgotten what they look like.

I'm going to argue that the budget cuts in our industry have led to the rise of a semi-amateur class of employee at the labels who don't fully understand their jobs. Perhaps even if they did comprehend the full scope of their duties they would continue to neglect them out of self-righteousness related to feelings of inadequate financial compensation.

Whatever the reason, it's not surprising to see things like the Rihanna/LaChapelle issue crop up when the people making decisions are more fast-rising hustlers than actual industry pros.

In contrast, commissioners in the UK are still very professional. I come across the above issues primarily when dealing with US labels and US personnel. It's become very sloppy over here.

30f, February 18, 2011 5:26:02 PM CET

Kal, I agree. A smart and professional commissioner sees this kind of issue on the horizon and guides the artist in a way that is cool, but now so legally vulnerable.

Here are my thoughts on the whole shebang.

stevejobs, February 21, 2011 8:30:34 PM CET

Melina is no longer on the Black Dog / RSA website...
It's a pity Melina is being picked out, I agree that it's down to the commissioners not doing their jobs properly.

If they are picking treatments that heavily reference other music videos rather then a fresh idea, then it comes down to them. If they can't look at an idea and imagine it without looking at a load of Chapelle / Cunningham / Gondry references then it definitely comes down to them.

Making Melina the scape goat for all this isn't fair.

kalstark, February 21, 2011 9:00:39 PM CET


And, if Black Dog dropped her over this they are very much in the wrong. Can they honestly pretend they didn't know what was going on?

Production companies are the ones that break down the treatments in order to budget them out. They have final say on whether a treatment even goes to a label.

I wonder what else will come out about this story?

kakky, February 23, 2011 5:15:34 PM CET

Madonna paid the Bourdin family.

captainhairy, February 23, 2011 8:28:19 PM CET

pancake skateboard man shoulda sued Schofield for $25 Million.

wow sucks for melina.

i've never loved her work, but being dropped by RSA over this is fucked up. Guess the label is pointing fingers at RSA, and RSA is pointing fingers at her. Trying to distance themselves from her to lower legal damages.

budget, February 23, 2011 8:39:37 PM CET

And Alejandro Jodorowsky should collect from Partizan's entire 2009-2010 roster. This is bloody ridiculous.

my name is legion, February 23, 2011 9:04:04 PM CET

jodorowsky should collect from nima's les aristes, dats sure thing

i really dont get u buget
u seem to imply that melina shouldnt be sanctioned for what she did, because thereve been similar cases when the directors/ labels have been caught redhanded but eventually got away with it

good thing the pancake skateboard guy stood up for hisself when schfofofielfd stole his work

ts not stealing, but paying homage, it's not copying its rightful appropriation.if u cant create froms cratch, and all u do is cut and paste, then why bother calling urself a creator?

when a nod is just a nod, dats fine; when gvs remade psycho shot by shot, he openly acknowledged his source (although doyle pretended nevr to have seen hitch's film) but when its stealing, it should be punished

Victus, February 23, 2011 9:48:31 PM CET

Can Gaspar Noe sue Hype and co over the shameless wrip of the Enter The Void titles? the video got to Vimeo and it's getting a hostile reception for copying not acknowledging. It's a gary area, but this is the year where getting called out is gonna happen and perhaps it'll force commissioners and labels and artists and directors to pay attention, when using sources. Kanye is the biggest insult because he clearly just stole it with 0 context, then congratulated himself and co using the credits. The motherfucker should be sued, just for principle.

And on the subject, it may get a few people to see Enter The Void but most people won't. Thing is, it's ok to steal from something bad but when it's something good, it dilutes the quality of the original work, in the eyes of those unfamiliar. I think if their fucking egos could be lowered they wouldn't be so creatively bankrupt. Fuck them. And also, Melina. You should've known better, since you're the director.

budget, February 23, 2011 9:53:43 PM CET


I'm not pro-stealing, it's just frustrating when the "punishments" are doled out at random.

pancho, February 23, 2011 10:06:33 PM CET

I don't get it... Kanye and Hype have so much cash and so much pull on the industry.. this is the best they can come up with?

my name is legion, February 23, 2011 10:25:24 PM CET

@budget - yeah, i was going medieval - catch them steal, off with the hand :D - am not sure it was 'random' as u put it; i think it was a case of a famous visual artist going against a huge pop star; if this were our pancake skateboard guy, there would be no lawsuit (this is not to say that schofofofoffieieled stole the way melina did)

as for kanye & hype vs gaspar noe it should be the same, except that enter the void is so bad, that kanye ripping it off means (poetic) justice has been done

Victus, February 23, 2011 11:11:00 PM CET

Legion, you wouldn't know what a good movie is if it hit you like a brick.

What exactly is bad about enter the void? maybe the length. But certainly not the filmmaking, indeed.

my name is legion, February 24, 2011 1:32:16 AM CET

ure right, i wouldnt
i have an eye for bad movies, though :)

najork, February 24, 2011 6:18:44 AM CET

"What exactly is bad about enter the void?"
Though brilliantly made, it's like a Jack Chick comic brought to life. But with boobs in place of Jesus.

Victus, February 24, 2011 6:32:23 AM CET

So it's a compliment? ^ your opinion. Can't deny the sheer bolas. Its fucking awesome movie. -My opinion.

nu_shuz, February 24, 2011 6:53:05 PM CET

i find this debate fascinating. it's an important one too. i'm left wondering what la chapelles motivation is... i mean, he owns this aesthetic so entirely that why does he care?

i feel a little sorry for melina. photographers like la chapelle can spin a whole career out of riffing on a certain vision, while successful promo and commercial directors are positively expected to be chameleonic. repetition is seen as a weakness, and imitation is an unavoidable by product of this.

briefs are so often derivative, how else can non-visual people express what they want?

nu_shuz, February 25, 2011 12:33:30 AM CET

oh... and i'm with legion and najork on 'enter the void'. stylish, joyless and juvenile.

bbc, February 27, 2011 3:59:02 AM CET

Melina now with Hunter's Prettybird

otc, February 27, 2011 7:44:33 PM CET

Najork wins best analogy.

director4hire, March 15, 2011 5:58:24 PM CET

Melina left RSA 2 weeks prior to this suit, RSA didn't ask her to leave.

lusk81, March 16, 2011 3:09:26 PM CET

najork's ETV comment is the best analogy I've ever heard regarding Noe's film. Brilliant.


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