April 29 2008

Miley Cyrus And The Vanity Fair Controversy

Miley Cyrus Controversial Vanity Fair PictureApparently it is another slow news period in the world, because the story of Miley Cyrus posing for pictures in Vanity Fair is yet another non-story that should not be getting anywhere near the coverage it is.

For those of you unfamiliar with her, Miley Cyrus is the star of the insanely popular Disney series, Hannah Montanna. (warning:insanely loud music plays when you go there) She is also the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, the well-known country music singer.

First off, let’s just talk about it artistically. I am certainly no great art critic, but I think this is a simply gorgeous portrait. There is no denying that Annie Leibovitz is probably the greatest living photographer of this age. She has an unmatched eye for capturing a person’s essence, and her sense of lighting is phenomenal.

However, people are up in arms over this image saying that it over sexualizes the young pop star. As this story has swirled for the past couple of days, Ms. Leibovitz has now had to issue a statement defending the image, and Ms. Cyrus has issued a statement that she is “embarrassed” by it, and has apologized to her fans.

For what? Seriously, what is there to be apologized about here? Yes, she appears to be wrapped in a sheet, but, so what? This image is only as sexual as YOU choose to make it, and to me it is a perfect summary of that odd time in every woman’s life where you are no longer a child (the back) and yet you aren’t quite a woman yet (her cheeks are still very Cherubic), and, shocking news, that’s exactly what she is, a 15-year-old. I personally see absolutely nothing wrong with the portrait, but that may just be me.

Ms. Cyrus’ has also suggested she was coerced into this photo by Ms. Leibovitz, which I find hard to believe.  Also, both her grandmother and teacher were on set while this picture was shot, and all three were shown the image on a laptop within minutes of the picture being taken, agreeing it was a wonderful image of the young woman.

So who are these “outraged” people?  Why are they so upset about this picture?  I ask this in all sincerity because I simply do not get what is wrong with this picture, and, I have to be honest, it makes me wonder about the people who do have a problem with it.  Why is this so offensive?

When speaking with the diabolical “M” last night, she raised an extremely valid point: “Would we be having this same discussion if she wore a backless dress to the Oscars?”  The answer is that we wouldn’t be.  Because people with overactive imaginations looked at this photo, and placed their own thoughts in to this, it became an issue.  To me, again, I just see a beautiful portrait, wonderfully shot and lit, but yet I see nothing sensual in it.

I know I was fairly rough on Ms. Cyrus’ Disney co-worker Vanessa Anne Hudgens, back when those nude photos of her came out, but to me there is a world of difference here.  In Ms. Hudgens’ corner we have skanky pictures taken in a bedroom, fully nude verses a beautiful portrait revealing nothing but a back.  Yet, here we are, and Ms. Hudgens’ is currently working on High School Musical 3, so apparently people don’t get THAT upset over some full-blown nudity, but if you show a bare back, the apocalypse is coming.

This probably all comes down to the old argument of “beauty is in the eye-of-the-beholder”, but in this case it would seem it is more about what is dirty/wrong is in the eye-of-the-beholder.

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