The memes are flying since W Magazine published its annual Best Performances issue featuring photographs taken by world-renowned photographer Juergen Teller, who, even though his aesthetic hasn’t really changed much since the 90s, has been getting roasted on Twitter for his crimes against glamour. But even though my arts education consists of one art history class taken at Laney Jr. College (B-, thank you very much. I know my columns), even I can tell that not just any asshole with an iPhone can be a great photographer. It takes a real visionary like Juergen to talk Robin Wright into squatting behind a tree in broad daylight. I mean, he did refuse to photograph Miley Cyrus so we know he has taste!
According to Paper Mag:
Juergen Teller’s new photos for W magazine’s annual Best Performances issue were instant meme fodder. Most people aren’t fans of the shoot, which is being criticized as bizarrely disrespectful of its subjects, none of whom look particularly snatched. Featuring Tessa Thompson hanging out by some nondescript street parking and Steven Yeun sitting pensively on one of those folding IKEA chairs, the images have that flat, funny look you’ll be familiar with from your own iPhone albums. There’s something very 2009 WordPress fashion blogger about them. The omnipresent neighborhood tree looks a lot like the one you took your graduation photos next to.
Love it or loathe it, the lo-fi approach is intentional. Anyone with elementary school-level media literacy can discern that these casual-seeming photos offer commentary on the de-glamorization of Hollywood during the pandemic. No red carpet premieres, no ritzy awards shows, not many open movie theaters, even. W‘s Best Performances issue is typically an extremely overproduced and artful affair celebrating a year of great cinema, and all that pomp would have felt out of place in 2021.
But maybe we could have just a little pomp, you know, as a treat? Here are some examples that have people asking “And they pay you to do this?!”
juergen teller is going to hell for this pic.twitter.com/GDZ4i1hRpx
— aya (@blxckswns) February 24, 2021
Juergen is an Àrtïstè you see, and you can tell by the way he effortlessly captures the essence of his celebrity subjects while simultaneously risking them being cited for loitering. OK, maybe it isn’t entirely effortless, he did have to walk his ass all the way downstairs. Sure he probably times the shoots to coincide with when he needs to go down and feed the parking meter anyway, but according to Riz Ahmed, he will take “20 seconds” out of his busy day to get the shot just right.
— Riz Ahmed (@rizwanahmed) February 24, 2021
Fun fact! Scarlett Johansson (uncredited) is in every one of these photos. Yes, she’s that good. Honestly, I don’t mind them, especially because I can’t help but be delighted at the thought of Jared Leto getting back in his car only to realize he’s stepped in dog-shit and his $3,000 Gucci loafers are ruined.
It’s extra hilarious because it would probably take him several freeway exits before he realized the smell wasn’t him! Here are some of the memes putting gas in Twitter’s tank this week.
if you don't understand juergen teller's work that's a you problem pic.twitter.com/ANNFTabqyJ
— duʿā bint lipa (@afroelven) February 25, 2021
MA photographed by Juergen Teller for W Magazine pic.twitter.com/awJJ2Mqz0Y
— Seth (@TheFlemishSeth) February 24, 2021
shaquille o'neal photographed by juergen teller for w magazine pic.twitter.com/hdCOOjCIBq
— rhonda (@heIpmerhonda) February 24, 2021
Oh my, looks like Scarlett’s lost a lot of weight. Hope she’s OK.
Pic: W Magazine via Instagram