American comedian Kathy Griffin has said she was left ‘unemployable’ after sharing a photo of herself holding a fake, bloody, severed head of Donald Trump.
The 58-year-old initially apologised for the stunt after she came under fire for posting the photo on social media in 2017, however she later revoked her apology and argued the photo was a form of free speech.
In the aftermath she was fired from CNN’s New Year’s Eve show, which she had co-hosted for 10 years, and faced criticism from her co-host Anderson Cooper, as well as Chelsea Clinton, the daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and the president himself.
Kathy Griffin should be ashamed of herself. My children, especially my 11 year old son, Barron, are having a hard time with this. Sick!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2017
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Griffin said someone even ‘came at [her] with a knife in Houston’ and added some people remain convinced she’s a member of ISIS.
The comedian explained she doesn’t care if people are offended by the controversial stunt but said the photo prevented her from finding work.
You can be as offended by that photo all you want, that doesn’t bother me at all. But I want people to know I didn’t break the law. If you take a photo like that, you didn’t break the law.
I didn’t violate the First Amendment in any way. If you take a photo like that, you didn’t violate the First Amendment in any way.
As she struggled with unemployment the comedian said she knew the situation would be regarded as ‘an important, historic story’ and so she decided to film her experiences in the aftermath as a way to tell her side of the story.
Using her iPhone, Griffin began filming her everyday life as the work she claims to have lost out on forced her into the position of guerilla filmmaker. She created a self-funded part-documentary, part-comedy special from the footage, titled Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story.
Speaking to AP, she said:
I kept saying, ‘I think this is an important, historic story.’ The President and the Department of Justice shouldn’t make you unemployable and uninsurable.
The 58-year-old attempted to sell the film as a stand-alone comedy special but ‘nobody would even look at it’. She created her own poster for the production and took it with her to various press days to try and advertise her project.
Griffin also bankrolled her own shows, learned about promotions and ad buys and even coordinated the concession and ushers.
She went on to joke about the poster and referenced her Bravo reality series, My Life on the D-List, saying:
Look, I made it at Kinkos, OK? I’m still on the D-list.
Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story was eventually picked up by Fathom Events and is set to be shown in 700 US theatres today (July 31), though she doesn’t know where the project will go from there.
However, she emphasised she’s not giving up, saying:
I just want people to know you don’t have to go down. You can take a few punches, but after I kick the bucket, I want somebody to go, ‘You know that crazy red head? They got her but she didn’t go down’.
It was harder, but it sure kept me busy.
Griffin has made her dislike of the president clear on numerous occasions; earlier this year she shared a photo of Trump with the caption ‘it’s talking again’ and she has also advertised the sale of a range of merchandise sporting the words ‘Fuck Trump’.
Some people have praised her posts condemning Trump, though many believed the image of the severed head took things too far:
Did Kathy Griffin go too far with gory photos of Donald Trump's 'decapitated' head?
— #ItsAbovePoeNow🖤✊🏽 (@JustCuriousPoe) May 31, 2017
I always thought she went way too far with the severed bloody head of @realDonaldTrump. I am not a #Trump fan, but what she did was disgraceful. She lost a ton of sponsors, shows were canceled, empty seats. Yes, in a way she was decimated. pic.twitter.com/R1IconSqqg
— Lauren S. (@MPHLoyolaUniv) March 10, 2018
However, some people later changed their opinions of the stunt as Trump spent longer in office:
I just want to apologize to @kathygriffin for saying her Trump head thing went too far. I wish I’d’ve been fighting him as passionately this whole time as I am now, because honestly, I deeply appreciate it now. #Resist
— The Corsair (@TimelordCorsair) October 9, 2018
do you idiots still think that picture of Kathy Griffin holding Trump's severed head was "too far" or have you finally realized it wasn't far enough
— Max Booth III (@GiveMeYourTeeth) July 16, 2018
Griffin received backlash again earlier this year as she got caught up in the controversy surrounding a student in a Make America Great Again hat who was accused of mocking a Native American man.
At the time, she tweeted to say Trump had ‘brought out the worst’ in the US and demanded the teenagers in the video were named and ‘shamed’.
MAGA hats. Donald Trump has brought the worst out in our country. https://t.co/gYSY4YEINA
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 19, 2019
Ps. The reply from the school was pathetic and impotent. Name these kids. I want NAMES. Shame them. If you think these fuckers wouldn’t dox you in a heartbeat, think again. https://t.co/IS80wiaQ7v
— Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) January 20, 2019
The comedian is certainly not alone in disliking Trump and while some have argued her moves are warranted it’s clear she’s not afraid of toeing the line when it comes to sharing her opinions.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.