Miley Cyrus, Annie Liebowitz, Vanity Fair

You’ve heard the flap, you’ve probably seen this celebrity “issue” grow from a molehill into a mountain. If you haven’t heard about Miley Cyrus’ (a.k.a. Disney’s “Hannah Montana“)photoshoot with famed photographer Annie Liebowitz for the magazine Vanity Fair, then we’re glad you finally escaped from whatever vacuum you’ve been locked away in.
Since this topic has been broadcast, blogged, and flogged to death, I’ll be simple and to the point. Feel free to agree or disagree, but this is how I see it:
Miley Cyrus, up and coming star, was photographed by famed photographer Annie Liebowitz for an upcoming issue of “Vanity Fair” (along with her father, country music singer Billy Ray Cyrus). At one point, Cyrus was photographed topless, but wrapped in a white bedsheet to cover up.
The media went wild. The pundits opined. What should have been a barely noticeable blip on the radar of the celebosphere turned into a national peep show. She even had an hour devoted to her on National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation”, which, imho, only cheapens the integrity of that show and network for me.
In the interest of brevity, here are my main thoughts on the entire matter:
  • She’s 15 years old, for god’s sake! Would the media, pundits, and bloggers stop reporting on this as if she’s 5! I know 15 year olds who are pretty much on their own. What the media fails to recognize is that she can actually think for herself (as can most 15-year-olds), and is an actual person in her own right, with her own thoughts, desires, and dreams. She is NOT just so much “chattel” (though I’m sure Disney would like to believe she is) with no soul of her own.
  • It’s Annie Liebowitz, for God’s sake. The photos are expectedly aesthetic, beautiful, and captivating.
  • One of the main arguments put forth to condemn these photos is “What will her 5-10 year old fans think of her if they see these photos?” My response: Um, how many 5-10 year olds are out buying Vanity Fair? If you hadn’t sensationalized the whole thing into the mainstream “Entertainment Tonight” mediasphere… chances are none of the 5-10 year old set would have even heard about these photos.
  • Disney released a statement expressing shock about these photos. Really? How disingenuous is that? Does anyone think for a second that Disney does not know about and try to control every waking moment of their biggest star’s life? I would be willing to bet that they have Miley’s details and schedule sculpted and filed down to the brand of toothpaste she uses! They probably track what she has for breakfast every morning and chart each time she uses the bathroom! And then to come out and say that they had NO IDEA that the Liebowitz shoot was going to happen. And, since we can safely assume that Disney really did know about the Vanity Fair shoot, we can also assume that the powers that be in the DisneyCorp would have had some idea of the style of photography that Annie Liebowitz has produced in the past. Yet, they let the shoot go on. Could they have set up the shoot, and then started the controversy themselves? Think about it… you can’t BUY as much press as this story got. Even with all the money of DisneyCorp.
  • Miley Cyrus has since issued a statement that she is embarrassed about these photos. Which contradicts her first statement that she felt the photos were beautiful. How much pressure did DisneyCorp exert here?
I could go on… but this post is already too long. It’s important to support these photos for two reasons: 1. To support the rights of youth to be their own person and not be dominated by the box that the popular media dictates that they should be happy living in. 2. To support the world of free expression in art. Whether or not you’re a Liebowitz fan… it’s a matter of artistic expression.

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