#1165 1AM’s Glenn Hunt gives his two cents on model exploitation in NZ

Photo: 1AMimage censored to preserve the model’s (barely concealed) modesty

Before I get into what Glenn Hunt has to say for himself, I wanted to say that I’m amazed by the lack of response to Thursday’s blog about model exploitation in New Zealand. Besides several magazine editors speaking out in response to two local episodes where models were apparently given drugs on set, very few people have made any noise. It’s a little confusing. The feedback to an ad campaign where a model was depicted dead was gargantuan. And an ad campaign where an over-age but young-looking model was shown in lingerie drew an overwhelming moral objection. But as soon as the actual topic of models being exploited is raised, or an invitation to start a dialogue about what can be done to safeguard the vulnerable is suggested (thanks to Melinda Williams), all anybody seems to want to talk about is whether or not photographers should get paid for photo shoots. Like I said, it’s a little confusing.

And to make matters even more intriguing, the following email just arrived in my inbox from 1AM‘s Glenn Hunt.

“Isaac ya li’l stirrer… [we’re currently] on deadline, but took a break to join Delaney (NO) and Andy (Pilot) in defense of the current smear campaign on local popular culture you are encouraging and [in defense of] the people who dedicate their lives to trying to raise peoples consciousness and the awareness and support of NZ talent… This kind of sensationalism is irresponsible and it saddens me to see the clock being turned back 20 years – it’s a different world now Isaac and girls are not dumb and helpless any more, and it’s sexist and creepy to assume this or that they couldn’t be trusted to have responsibility for their actions – try holding them back!!!!”

If I’d realised that drawing attention to very real concerns in the industry was stirring, a smear campaign, sensationalism, irresponsible, saddening or creepy, I’m sure I would have thought twice before doing so.

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Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    its not creepy. its an issue. I imagine people have been hesitant to comment on this post because the world of NZ fashion is a small community and nobody wants to get themselves into trouble by “exposing” the offenders because they more than likely personally know them in a professional or social capacity. Nobody wants to burn bridges despite the fact that people even on the periphery of the industry know exactly whats going on and who is behaving badly.
    It’s really a no win situation.

  2. says

    To some people, especially those with a vested interest in the status quo, the writer who takes note of the unjust situation will always be the enemy.

  3. oldgirl says

    Read the book MODEL by michael Gross, come out in the 90s nothing has changed. The other heading for this book is THE UGLY BUSINESS OF BEAUTIFUL WOMEN. A great read

  4. Anonymous says

    I find it hilarious that Glen from 1am says that what he is doing with his magazine is “trying to raise peoples consciousness and the awareness and support of NZ talent”. Ummm, how exactly he is doing that?? By publishing the same boring photos of young, scantily clad girls??
    It’s so sad when people purport to be doing something important when they are merely stroking their own egos.

  5. Anonymous says

    “it’s a different world now Isaac and girls are not dumb and helpless any more”

    what a completely stupid comment. Young girls (or young people, regardless of gender) will always be at risk where there are unscrupulous people keen to take advantage of their vulnerability.

    - Gen (for some reason I can’t leave my name)

  6. Leonie says

    I still think models need a very strong union. It’s impossible for individual people, especially young ones with little business experience and few negotiating skills, to establish their financial worth. There are always those who will take advantage of workers. i was shocked to read that editorials don’t pay. I think that is an outrage. If people want to sell their magazines, they should be prepared to pay for it. In cash. Like workers in other fields. No one should feel obliged to do EVERYTHING their employer (and by employer, I mean someone who PAYS for the services of others…it should always be an equal exchange) asks, no matter what. There ought to be official guidelines respecting the rights and responsibilities of people exchanging labour, services and goods. It seems to me that people are in fact being used and abused because there is no official body watching their backs for them. How an item of clothing is supposed to buy you food or pay your rent is beyond me. The drugs stuff is just plain immoral and illegal. i think it’s time for a little respect.

  7. Brett says

    Leonie has hit the nail on the head.

    If pressuring 16-20 year old girls and boys to work without pay (often for very long hours without regular breaks) isn’t a blatant form of “exploitation” then I don’t know what is.

    Publishing a magazine is a commercial venture. The publishers aren’t doing it for shits and giggles. They’re selling ad pages for thousands of dollars each. Their objective, like any business, is to turn a profit (and there is nothing wrong with that).

    Publishers can afford to pay their printers, their paper suppliers, their distributors, their writers, and themselves. Why can’t they afford to pay models at least the minimum wage of $12.50 an hour?

    Common sense would dictate that paying models should be built into the cost of producing a magazine. Such an expense would be miniscule in comparison to other costs like printing or distribution, and could easily be covered by a small increase in ad rates.

    I would love to see one of the independent NZ mags step up and do the right thing here – rather than just make some lame excuses, plead poverty, or point the finger at overseas publications and say “but all the cool international mags don’t pay models, so why should we?” (Which, by the way, is like a local fashion photographer pointing at Terry Richardson and saying “he gets to molest young models, so why can’t I?”)

    Here is a prime opportunity for a New Zealand publication to buck the worldwide trend and show models “a little respect.”

    PS: Leonie’s model union idea also has merit – but model’s aren’t employees so they can’t form a union. However they could form a non-profit organisation like FINZ to act as their official industry body.

  8. Leonie says

    Firstly, Cam, I thought fashion was an industry. There ain’t no love in industry. It’s all about capitalism and that’s profit for someone. Secondly, Brett, and thanks for the support, if you can have Actors’ Equity and a Screen Writers’ Guild, why can you not have Models’ Equity?

  9. Anonymous says

    Young girls can be responsible for their own actions, but they make sillier decisions than older girls.
    The important thing the modeling world should do is take away young girls’ options to make certain decisions.
    ie. don’t smoke P around young girls and they won’t have the option to make the silly decision of trying it… ie. don’t hire dirty photographers who will ask the models to take their clothes off and they won’t make the silly decision to agree.
    Young girls are responsible for their actions, but their responsibility comes with serious lack of judgement, due to their age.
    They need to be protected and not put in environments where they can make bad calls.

  10. Melinda says

    @ Leonie: You’re right, young models don’t have the experience to negotiate terms of employment, but their agents do, and they clearly see ‘unpaid’ editorial work as a value proposition.

    A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that paying all creative contributors even minimum wage would push up an indie’s total budget by at least 20 percent – that’s massive, especially in an industry that already runs on a shoestring. Being forced to pay that would put every independent magazine I know under, and I think almost nobody wants that, especially not those actually involved in the industry, and getting exposure in the magazines.

    As for model guilds, there was serious talk of forming one when I was a booker (2000-03), but the idea never went anywhere. New Zealand is regarded as an ‘editorial’ market – a place with a lot of good fashion magazines, where you can build up a strong book that will help you get well-paid commercial work overseas. There’s not much of a commercial market (I bet you could count the number of models working in NZ who make average wage on your fingers and toes – and trust me, enforcing minimum wage for fashion editorials would make no difference to that) so there is little incentive to form a guild for an industry that’s so part-time. Secondly, as I recall, setting up a guild that protects local worker rights would have serious implications for agencies’ ability to bring over international models. Since visiting international models are very important to local agencies, photographers and magazines, there wasn’t much industry support. That’s not to say it’s a bad idea, just that there are quite a few issues around workability in a market as small as NZ.

  11. new zealand model says

    what an utter bullshit email that was. i feel that was a complete cop out and totally thoughtless. this is coming from a model who has worked in the industry for 5 years. do you really think the likes of glen hunt is going to be supporting this, no – of course he is going to respond in such a way.

    get real.

  12. Anonymous says

    Isaac

    What I find interesting about Glens comments is that he is basically stating that something that was unacceptable twenty years ago is acceptable today.

    In part I agree. If he is referring to what we are conditioned to view as normal, censorship has changed and with it the boundaries around the level of acceptance have also changed. A suggestive Lady Gaga video is seen as quite acceptable to be viewed by our kids and the “sexualisation” of everything, whether it be a Brats doll an advertisement for fried chicken, Coke, Glasson’s or Bonds underwear invades our lives every day whether we choose it to or not .

    As the Father of a girl about to embark on her teenage years I do however think it is disturbing that much of the dialogue and comments overlook the fact that we have become very de sensitized to things that should not even be put up for debate: Sexual Exploitation of young people and Drug Use would be two. I believe I have a fairly liberal outlook but I would be pretty surprised if there were many parents who didn’t agree with me on this. I realize that many of your contributors are possibly young enough to be my daughter but I think that although there is a generational divide this is not an old fashioned opinion.

    There are moral , ethical and legal lines that should never be crossed.

    Defending these actions and using that as the basis for any argument in the ”name of art or creativity” is in itself unacceptable.

    Murray Crane

  13. Anonymous says

    How ridiculous for this man to comment of the state of the industry.

    Was it not in his former incarnation as the co-owner of Pavement Magazine that this kind of appalling behavior towards our young models was really bought into the public’s consciousness in New Zealand.
    Wasn’t one of the reasons for the demise of this publication due to the awareness of this kind of behavior within the industry?

    I think overall this behavior has been somewhat lessened due to the dominant publications of ol now struggling under the weight of an overcrowded industry.
    From my experience the majority of the newer fashion mags in NZ don’t tolerate this behavior due to Pavements sullied reputation.

    Don’t get me wrong i don’t have a problem with th nudity in 1am, Pavement or any other fashion Magazine(obviously i am excluding under-age girls & boys from this statement)as that isn’t the argument here but the audacity for someone to comment or let alone defend himself is a little hypercritical.

    Thoughts?

  14. Anonymous says

    Agreed. Exploitation of any sort is never acceptable. To say provocative images of young females is some sort woman’s lib thing seems like a thin disguise to try and shift culpability from experienced adults to our youth. It’s a shame that a lot of these boys and girls get groomed with alcohol or drugs to ‘loosen’ them up. Alcohol should never be present at a shoot in my opinion, especially as being in front of a camera is already putting a person in a vulnerable position. And as for drugs – there’s a reason they are illegal. If you want to use them in your personal time, that’s fine, keep them away from work.
    Models get absolutely no say in what goes to print. They don’t sign release forms or make any decisions. You could argue that they could say “no” to the things they feel uncomfortable with but it’s not that simple – there are a lot of people relying on them to shut up and do as they are told. They can also count on the client never working with them again if they are viewed as too prudish. If we looked at this from a wider view, and included adult models too, then the courts have never looked favourably on exploitation in ANY power imbalance. Whether it be with: doctor/patient, landlord/tenant, large age gaps, parent/child, employer/employee. Basically they say that if you are the authority, or hold the power in the relationship, then you must take some responsibility to ensure a healthy environment. This is not happening in the fashion industry. We all need to take responsibility for models welfare – because they are definitely at the bottom of the heap in terms of power.
    While most people in the industry are extremely professional as well as talented, it’s sick to think some people aren’t acknowledging that a dialogue such as this is not merely sensationalism. Anything that promotes making something better is fine by me!

  15. says

    From a legal point of view it seems to be quite simple. Models are essentially contractors and for every job they undertake, they would need to sign a contract, which their agent provides them with and also provides the amount each party to the contract is to receive from that particular job.

    Presumably all/both parties have obligations and responsibilities which they are burdened with under the said contract. Failing to perform those obligations or uphold those responsibilities would entail breach of a contract and thus the wrongdoing party would be held accountable in some way shape or form through the binding contract that every party to the transaction signed beforehand.

    Obviously, I give an opinion based on what I am experienced with.

    Is this simply to crude an analysis of the process or something akin to it?

  16. oldgirl says

    you all need to get a grip, models have always been exploited, just hire the movie BLOWUP from the 60,s to see nothing has changed and nothing will,that is the fashion business we eat are young and spit them out. Life

  17. says

    As the girlfriend of a well travelled model who started out in New Zealand, I can say I have seen and heard first hand the amount of exploitation that goes on the modelling industry, both in New Zealand and around the world.

    Yes, there are many models (girls and boys) who can’t ‘hold themselves back’ as Glenn said, in regards to drugs. These are models who love the scene they’re in and love the ‘glamour’ of it all. But the majority of models out there, even though they are responsible for their own actions, are taken advantage of on a daily basis.
    An example is the American model who was shooting a Ralph Lauren campaign and was asked to go back to the photographers hotel room – and because he declined he was taken off the job and never worked with that (very well known) photographer again. When you’re an impressionable young girl (or boy), this has considerable repercussions. They feel pressured and completely stuck because doing what the photographer says is their job.

    If they say no to taking their clothes off, to taking that line of cocaine, will they work again? There are hundreds of other young models waiting in the wings to take their place. And in such a small industry like New Zealand, these photographer’s can make or break you when you’re just starting out.

    This is a sad reality, and it is completing irresponsible of Glenn to simplify such a dangerous and complex issue by putting it all back onto the model.

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