Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Cyrus Complex

Which picture is more disturbing?

I’m sure everyone and their mother has heard about the Miley Cyrus Vanity Fair photoshoot by now. It’s gained a lot of controversy for the first picture because it supposedly depicts the latest role model/pop princess as a sexual being. The latter picture, included in the same article, is not being discussed at all. I’ll ask the question again – which picture is more disturbing?

The latter one is for several reasons. The first that springs to mind is obviously the fact that she’s entangled in her father’s arms in the same way several perfume/cologne ads (heck, just ads in general) feature men and women as sex objects to sell their product. Secondly, by not ackowledging and abhorring the father/daughter photo for the same reasons as the individual photo, society is proving, once again, that it’s perfectly alright to be a sexual object as long a man is in the picture. That, in my opinion, is abominable.

Miley Cyrus is a beautiful, young woman. The first picture, though somewhat provactive, captures her youth while simultaneously capturing her emerging maturity as the woman she will grow into being in a few years. It’s a stunning photograph that looks almost like a painted portrait. She’s wearing very little make-up and looks natural for a change. Miley Cyrus should not be ashamed of this photograph anymore than she should be ashamed of growing up. More importantly, she should not be afraid of expressing her sexuality. She's fifteen! Not eight, ten, or twelve. She's probably been on her period for a few years and entertained the idea of having a boy friend/girl friend by now.

And her fans, if they really are fans, shouldn’t try to box her into being the perpetual tween angel. She should be allowed to grow-up in front of our eyes. If society won’t let her do that, then we’ll have another case of Spears and Lohan. They weren’t allowed to grow into mature women because “we” loved that damn virginal box so much. We want everyone to keep creating the same work over and over again because we don't want to re-evaluate our connotations of who that person is. Famous people must stay the same. Both women ended up exploding inside of their boxes by reacting childishly to adult situations. I don't mean childishly in the sense that they're infantile and end up sucking their thumbs after a bad night out partying, but childishly in the ways that they handle responsibility, relationships, and temptations. They have no barriers given to them so they don't know how to form their own. I realize the stress of being famous and more importantly, staying famous must be incomprehensible, but that’s our fault, not theirs. We as a society should try to rectify our viewpoints on stardom so that we can continue to adore our childstars when they become adult sensations. Everyone should be allowed to grow.

Unfortunately, Miley Cyrus has copped-out and issued an apology:

"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about."

Vanity Fair and Annie Liebowitz (the photographer of the shoot) have retorted that claim:
A spokesperson for Vanity Fair has defended the publication, saying:

"Miley's parents and minders were on the set all day. Since the photo was taken digitally, they saw it on the shoot and everyone thought it was a beautiful and natural portrait of Miley."

The article accompanying the pictures quoted Miley as saying the pictures are "really artsy. It wasn't done in a skanky way."

Annie Liebowitz:
"I'm sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted," the celebrity photographer said in a written statement. "Miley and I looked at fashion photographs together and we discussed the picture in that context before we shot it. The photograph is a simple, classic portrait, shot with very little makeup, and I think it is very beautiful."

I must say, Vanity Fair and Annie Liebowitz are handling the situation beautifully. I also love that VF's official website has an essence of snarkiness coursing through its HTML encoded veins about the ridiculousness of this controversy as well.


Lisa Draski said...

I totally agree! I don't usually have any opinion about Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana either way, but I feel sorry for her. This is ridiculous! It IS a beautiful picture that shows vulnerability and youth as well as a girl on the cusp of becoming a woman. They should let her grow up without making her feel like she has to be ashamed. And Annie Leibowitz? Come on, you can't get more artistic or classy or better than that.

And seriously, the picture with her father is completely disturbing. It's pretty horrifying, actually. That's way more sexual than her solo photo.

BraveSrRob said...

I don't think it's really fair to criticize Miley for issuing the apology. While her cowering to the...actually, I have no idea who would object to the picture... the critics may not be the most empowering thing, I don't know if anyone should expect her to take a stand.

Also, I really don't think Lindsay Lohan was ever trapped in the virginal box. Britney Spears certainly was, but not nearly as much as Lindsay from my memory (though my only memory of Lindsay after the Parent Trap is her on a rope swing in Maxim).

I really think the problems encountered by these people are more indicative of being a childhood celebrity than anything else.

Sara said...

I think it's perfectly fair to criticize Miley's apology because she shouldn't feel guilty about it!

Lindsay Lohan didn't rise to fame as quickly as Ms. Spears did, but when she was big, she was very big. I don't have any sources in front of me, but I remember people throwing a shit-fit over her car washing ad after that dreadful Herbie movie. She fell from audience grace a little more rapidly than Spears did as well. Disney wanted her to be what Miley Cyrus is now, but she took on more adult projects from the get-go. In 2006, she was able to party and work and be in successful films like A Prairie Home Companion, but come 2007, she went downhill in the worst way. And she played a stripper.