It's been a big week for seapunks. Their young, underwater-themed movement was thrust into the spotlight after two big performers debuted suspiciously seapunky acts over the weekend without crediting the movement's originators.
Rihanna's green-screened Saturday Night Live performance of "Diamonds," and Azealia Banks' "Atlantis" music video, which dropped a day later, are below. Both videos take freely from the Lisa Frank aesthetic of seapunk, a web-based art genre that was formed after someone tweeted about a dream he had about a leather jacket with barnacles as studs. Since then, seapunk has become a defined niche culture -- one where early internet iconography, bright colors, and of course, sea creatures, reign. Rihanna and Banks have both loosely linked themselves to the aesthetic simply by wearing turquoise, or in Banks' case, comparing herself to a mermaid. But this time, the seapunkers tweet to us, they've gone too far.
Did they plagiarize? The videos certainly feature more fake dolphins is standard:
Most outsiders are declaring this an unfair fight, arguing the case from a seapunk point of view. But who's protecting the marauders from reverse theft? Jerome LOL -- the pioneering seapunk artist whose fans are particularly mad at Rihanna -- posted his own remix of "Diamonds" weeks before the SNL performance. An effusive review published on Bullett Magazine's web site called the edit "a transcendentally transformative new work of art that somehow improves on the original." Nothing about swaggerjacking Rihanna. Not a line, anywhere, about "capitalist exploitation."
So it seems as there's a double standard at work here. But when one side is worth millions of dollars, and the other makes their art during off-hours from a day job, is a double standard for "borrowing" from each other only fair? Scroll through our slideshow of the most contentious artist-on-artist thefts, and let us know what you think of the crime in the comments. Art's natural order? Or always wrong?
Beyonce vs. Anne Terese De Keersmaeker
Belgian choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker called Beyonceout for aping entire sequences (including cinematography and costumes) created by De Keersmaeker in the eighties, for her 2011 "Countdown" video. Among the works Beyonce plundered were De Keersmaker's ballet "Rosas Danst Rosas" and "Achterland." “This is stealing," the modernist pioneer said in an interview. “<a href="http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/beyonce-accused-of-plagiarism-over-video/">What’s rude about it is that they don’t even bother about hiding it</a>.”
Madonna vs. Guy Bourdin
Madonna's 2003 video for "Hollywood" features imagery very <a href="http://antimadonna.dark-host.com/gallery_unoriginal/unoriginal4.html">close in spirit</a> to the work of the late French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin. Too close, some might say. And one did! Bourdin's son sued the star, saying, "<a href="http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/madonna-accused-picture-piracy">it's one thing to draw inspiration; it's quite another to simply plagiarize the heart and soul of my father's work</a>." While the amount Madonna eventually shelled over remains confidential, Bourdin's lawyer called it a "<a href="http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/crime/madonna-pays-settle-copyright-lawsuit">very, very successful settlement</a>."
Madonna vs. Collette
Then there was "Like A Virgin." Turns out even that iconically Madonna creation may owe a debt (in this case, still unpaid). The New York multimedia artist Colette says Madonna's 1984 album cover <a href="http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/755096/colette-vs-lady-gaga-tk">was essentially lifted </a>from her 1979 album <a href="http://www.ebay.com/itm/JUSTINE-Beautiful-Dreamer-12-NEW-VINYL-DFA-Collette-/190652775821">Beautiful Dreamer</a>.
Rihanna vs. David LaChapelle
You know it's bad when everyone thinks the artist you were "inspired" by directed your music video. <a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1353935/Rihannas-S-M-music-video-strikingly-similar-David-LaChapelles-work.html">That's what happened </a>when Rihanna debuted S&M in 2011, a video with individual scenes that bear striking similarities to photographs by David LaChapelle. The Warhol protege filed a million dollar suit against Rihanna, citing <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1657995/rihanna--david-lachapelle-s-m-video.jhtml">eight photographs</a> that were essentially recreated -- from a woman walking a slave on a leash to a zebra-striped boudoir littered with supine bodies. They <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15369397">settled out of court</a>. Moral: don't hire a music video director with a <a href="http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1657995/rihanna--david-lachapelle-s-m-video.jhtml">track record of stealing</a>.
Lady Gaga vs. Colette
Lady Gaga is a notorious art sponge, but she joined an illustrious line of borrowers when she prompted Colette, she of Madonna-inspiring fame, to create <a href="http://vimeo.com/34473694">the accusatory video "Looking For Lady Gaga</a>," about the singer's supposedly derivative boudoir installation at Barney's. In the video, the artist compares Gaga's work with her <a href="http://www.collectcolette.com/72-125-The_House_of_Olympia.html">House of Olympia installation</a>, saying she gets "20 million phone calls and emails about that window at Barneys." Colette later softened, calling the singer a <a href="http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/755096/colette-vs-lady-gaga-tk">"daughter" and a "descendant,</a>" which is a nice way of saying you owe me. Her repayment solution? That <a href="http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/755096/colette-vs-lady-gaga-tk">Gaga sponsor a show for her at MoMa</a>.