Amazon’s House of Gucci sparks controversy

Written by Staff Writer, CNN

Megan Ellison’s Annapurna Pictures has a long history of controversy. The indie studio — along with its label, Annapurna — has been criticized in the past for stirring controversy and for poor decisions — for example, by greenlighting one film that was derided by some as “pornographic.”

And this has given rise to skepticism about its new project, “House of Gucci,” which launches Sunday on Amazon Prime.

In the film, Julianne Moore plays British fashion designer Frida Giannini, who works for Gucci, as she launches the Gucci perfume campaign. However, the Italian film company’s authorized biography “House of Gucci” was dismissed by the director and Anderson in the opening scenes. In scenes set in Italy, Lisa Anderson, the movie’s director, starts her film by presenting the contents of two boxes: one containing photographs and one with a handwritten list of “Gucci approved” quotes.

‘I’m not a feminist’: Frida Giannini

The notes are incredibly sexist. “My character is a character of absolute masculinity — think of a shirt worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger,” Lisa Anderson says at the beginning of the film. The quote in question is from “Milk,” the movie about the struggles of gay rights in California and features Rob Lowe’s character saying, “Milk is for lovers, not for men.”

Laura Anderson played by Manish Dayal. Credit: Handout

“These quotes are attributed to Giannini herself, and even the movie’s name refers to the former’s legendary fur line, Gucci,” Janine Brown from Vogue wrote in a recent review.

But the film’s makers, along with Giannini, dispute the widespread interpretation that they have been denied permission to use the iconic quotes or that they have objected to them being used.

Mark Power of the New York-based personal branding agency OnPoint for Assoc. is leading a campaign to have the words and images taken down from the film, urging Amazon Prime subscribers to stop watching the movie. He has even sent Anderson a formal apology letter with an offer of full legal representation if Amazon chooses to allow her claims to stand.

“I can’t see the benefit of spreading brand negativity when she should be showcasing her efforts with Gucci and reminding people of Giannini’s achievements,” Power told CNN.

Still “giving opportunities”

For BrandVision Group’s founder, Jeff Hirsch, it’s difficult to figure out where Anderson stands on the issue, citing her description of herself as “part of the campaign team” for the film.

But he does believe that the film opens a channel of communication with the brand.

“When the word Gucci is in a title, you give opportunities to an insider. “For whatever reason, she (Lisa Anderson) chose to tackle the issue head on,” he said.

Anderson, in a recent interview with Vogue UK, defended her decision.

“There are some smart women in advertising. There are few roles for them and they shouldn’t have to act like idiots. It makes me feel good that people are being challenged about their comments and their arguments.”

Power finds this to be an optimistic remark that is misconstrued as disputing her allegations, and suggests that she is actually “isolating her critiques as a lone voice, rather than as part of a collective.”

Power also insists that he has not suffered any retribution from Amazon Prime, “although I’m still waiting to hear back.”

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