(Disclaimer: I know that everyone is talking about Miley Cyrus. So when in Rome…)
Hannah Montana megastar Miley Cyrus is doing damage control by apologizing for her recent photo spread in Hollywood culture bible Vanity Fair for a semi-nude picture of her taken by famed photographer Annie Lebowtiz. Cyrus claims she was manipulated by Lebowitz while Lebowitz is giving the “bitch please” defense claiming that everyone was happy and approved of the art including Cyrus and her parents.
Lebowitz also stated that people are misinterpreintg her work. So tell me this: When is it ever appropriate for an artist to suggest that a 15-year old girl pose shirtless while being wrapped in sheet rocking just-got-f***ed hair? Never. Shame on Lebowitz for not knowing better, for not falling back for a second and thinking to herself “Now I got critisized for the Jennifer Hudson Vogue spread last year for making her look like a lifeless whale, I got really shit on for the LeBron James-Gisele Bundchen Vogue cover for reinforcing stereotypes of black men being primitive apes…so maybe I should be easy with this little girl and do something that will keep my name out of the news.” Or maybe this was her plan all along.
But regardless of the intent, we as a society cannot forget that although Cyrus may have Julia Roberts’ money, she is still a child.
Now I respect Vanity Fair, but it doesn’t get a pass because it’s Vanity Fair, just like Lebowitz doesn’t get a pass because she is one of the best photographers of the 21st century. A foul up is a foul up and they need to stop hiding behind art’s sake and man up. This picture whether splashed on a MySpace page or on the cover of Time is equally problematic.
And I know that people are saying, “Where were the parents? They should have been there.” Who knows where they were, but if they weren’t there, shame on them for trusting a capitalist magazine to have their daughter’s best interest in mind. Now if they were there and they didn’t say anything, this could be a product of one of two things. Either they don’t give a damn like Lindsay Lohan’s mom aka White Oprah OR they got caught up in the moment listening to elitist folks telling these hillbillies, they don’t know fine art and that this is what is people really want to see. It’s this same mentality that got Andre Leon Talley to talk Jennifer Hudson into wearing that hideous gold lamet shrug-thing at the Oscars in 2007. You keep telling someone, “You’re great, you’re fabulous, give it to the camera. this is what’s up” and POOF! You have a child in tears, embarrassed parents, Disney with their panties in a twist and a major corporation i.e. Conde Nast making millions off of the fallout.
Yet this one incident speaks to a larger problem in this country: the sexualization of young women at way too early of an age. There are 10 year-olds wearing thongs and getting Brazilian waxes along with high schoolers who give better head than Karrine Steffans. We have music videos with naked women having money thrown on them, reality shows with spoiled brats who will do anything for attention, ads like House of Dereon For Girls pimping 3 year olds in f**k-me pumps, commercials like CW ‘s Gossip Girl showing kids riding each other, movies like Superbad that display a teen character begging some dork to put his “cock” in her, the list could go on and on.
Do we have any idea what we are doing to the psyches of young girls in this country? We are telling them that being overtly sexual is more important than being articulate, or being goofy or being smart or being REAL. We are encouraging girls to engage in sexual activities that they are not mentally or emotionally ready for and all we can offer them is abstinence-only education, so they have no idea how to protect themselves. Then we wonder why one in four teen girls has an STD. And parents are just as messed up as the media–stop being your kid’s homegirl and be her mamma.
We have fallen pop stars, knocked up teen idols and hairless vaginas plastered in every magazine. And when young girls finally have someone they can look up to, we ruin it by letting greed take over common sense and decency. Oh well, VF will get what it wanted: to sell more copies than Suri “Alien” Cruise’s debut and Jennifer Aniston “Boo-hoo Brad left me” issues combined. I hope it was all worth it.