Update: CNN statement : "we have terminated our agreement with Kathy Griffin to appear on our New Year's Eve program"
Kathy Griffin said on Tuesday that she "went too far" on her latest photo shoot with controversial photographer Tyler Shields, creating an image where she is holding a bloodied mask of President Trump. Visually it reminds you of Jihadi John's beheading of Alan Henning, and other gruesome ISIS propaganda.
In a video from the shoot, Kathy seems to be well aware of the controversy the image would cause, joking "we're going to have to go to Mexico... Like today." with Shields on the set, while viewing the images.
But as soon as the images were published, the backlash was fierce with everyone from former porn stars to Chelsea Clinton weighing in on the photo.
If @kathygriffin wanted to shock people, she should actually be funny.
— Jenna Jameson (@jennajameson) May 30, 2017
This is vile and wrong. It is never funny to joke about killing a president. https://t.co/zIiuKoMyFw
— Chelsea Clinton (@ChelseaClinton) May 30, 2017
Kathy took to social media to apologise for the image, stating "I made a mistake, and I was wrong," adding that she's asked the photographer to remove the images from his social accounts.
I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong. pic.twitter.com/LBKvqf9xFB
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) May 30, 2017
Adland can confirm that the PR fallout from this is now affecting Kathy's jobs, brands don't dare have her as a spokesperson when she's in the news for this sort of joke. Griffin was scheduled to perform at Route 66 Casino near Albuquerque on July 22, but that show has been cancelled. CNN, where the comedian traditionally hosts the new years eve show called the photo "disgusting and offensive." They have stated "We are pleased to see she has apologised. We are evaluating New Year's Eve and have made no decisions at this point."
Even squatty potty, whose mascot is a pooping unicorn and concept is that we're all "full of shit", has distanced themselves from Kathy pulling all ads starring her immediately. CEO of squatty potty Bobby Edwards has issued the following statement:
“We were shocked and disappointed to learn about the image Ms. Griffin shared today, it was deeply inappropriate and runs contrary to the core values our company stands for. In response, Squatty Potty has suspended its ad campaign featuring Ms. Griffin. We have acted swiftly and decisively to demonstrate our commitment to a culture of decency, civility, and tolerance.”
Joking about sitting presidents is a comedian's bread and butter, but sometimes it really goes too far. It's one thing to do standup routines like Dana Carvey where he basically does impressions of all the presidents with jokes, it's another to just rant like Bill Hicks on a bad night at them. Stephen Colbert recently spewed a long rant of vitriol about President Trump ending it by calling him "Vladimir Putin’s cock holster." Years ago, the rodeo clown who wore an Obama mask caused the entire Missouri fair to get sensitivity training, and the president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association to resign, because clowning around in a President mask was somehow racist. In 2011 Gilbert Gottfried was fired as the Aflac duck voice for cracking a joke in poor taste on Twitter. By the way, did you know that now first lady Melania Trump was in an Aflac ad?
In a polarised world adding political jokes or points to your act can serve to alienate more than half of your fans, as Kathy just learned. Amy Schumer got booed off-stage for making Trump jokes, and Anheuser-Busch killed the Amy Schumer & Seth Rogen "Party" campaign as sales declined. Sometimes people just want to be entertained, or learn about a new product without cause marketing, political posturing or random lesbians snogging in the lifestyle shots. When your job is to be funny, and a spokesperson, you need to balance carefully on the line of "still relevant/famous" and suitably non-offensive. Beheadings aren't funny.