One of the big headlines yesterday was about Rihanna’s new Savage x Fenty Vol 4 fashion show, premiering next week on Prime, which features Johnny Depp. I’ve seen it, he is indeed featured. And now there’s backlash. Black Twitter is not amused.
Crazy to me. Literally in what world. Where is her team? Her publicist? HER BRAIN https://t.co/w8QLrZJluj— Meech (@MediumSizeMeech) November 3, 2022
Gross! Rihanna entering her Fenty Flop era? https://t.co/FBQtpNVj8Q— Michael. (@yosoymichael) November 3, 2022
Out Magazine is not amused.
And just like that, all of our excitement for this yearâ€™s #SAVAGEXFENTYSHOW is gone.https://t.co/smPlObqXFk— Out Magazine (@outmagazine) November 3, 2022
Drew Dixon, herself an abuse survivor, is not amused.
Johnny Depp has been embraced as a hero by unhinged right-wing misogynist extremists, and now he's been invited to appear in the @SavageXFenty show. Never expected such a powerful woman to succumb to the #MeToo backlash. Really disappointing @rihanna https://t.co/cU882vMiC6— Drew Dixon (@deardrewdixon) November 3, 2022
As Drew says in her tweet, Rihanna IS powerful. Much more powerful than Johnny Depp. And in putting him in her show, she is lending him her clout. Johnny Depp at this point in his career needs Rihanna more than Rihanna needs him. People were already hyped about the show…because all you need, really, is Rihanna. And it’s not like there aren’t over a dozen celebrities who don’t have the problematic baggage of Johnny Depp already involved in the show.
So it’s baffling why she pulled this stunt. Again, the interest was already there. Simu Liu is thirst-trapping all over his moment. Everybody looks great and, really, like editorially, Johnny Depp adds nothing to show. No one was sitting around thinking… you know what Savage x Fenty could really use? To increase interest in the clothes? Johnny Depp, if only Johnny Depp could show me how good Rihanna’s athleisurewear looks. This has never been a question anyone has ever asked. Which makes this such a confusing and frustrating decision on so many levels.
On the brand level, given what Savage x Fenty stands for – diversity, inclusion, empowerment, feel-good vibes – it just doesn’t track. Even if you’re on Team Depp it doesn’t track. He is Not The Brand. If she was hoping that he’d represent on age factor, and represent the 60-year-olds, she had so many other options: Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, Viggo Mortensen would have been a great choice, there’s a long ass list of people who are not as controversial.
Is controversy what RiRi is after?
Controversy can be a selling feature, no doubt. But is anyone out here actually convinced that the streaming numbers for the show will surge just because Johnny Depp is in it? And will controversy turn into sales? Ultimately the show supports the business – Rihanna is a billionaire who runs a business, multiple businesses. What does this do for the business? How does this increase profits?
Is she courting Johnny Depp’s fans and Twitter bots to buy her products? That’s a mostly white audience, and Rihanna hasn’t typically catered to that demo. Certainly not at the expense of her existing demo. Mens rights activists aren’t going to be f-cking buying Rihanna’s lingerie, come on now. How much of a potential profit margin is even possible?
And sure, not all business decisions have to be about profit. Sometimes you make decisions that are right for the brand, but aren’t necessarily profitable. In this case, though, Johnny Depp is neither right for the brand nor for the business. And the thing about Rihanna is that she usually moves in ways that are right for both. In this case, none of it makes sense.