I wrote recently about another Vanity Fair cover shot by Annie Leibovitz that brought some controversy (and which, as this controversy is, was completely ridiculous). This time it's Leibovitz's shots of Miley Cyrus. In the June 2008 Vanity Fair Cyrus is shown holding a sheet over her chest and her back is exposed (shown below). Now, I've included a few pictures of Miley Cyrus below to prove a point. People need to stop getting sanctimonious when it's convenient. There are millions of teenage girls looking at the images below, going to this girl's concerts, and seeing a lot worse from many other sources in today's media. What do you think is being sold here, folks? Some idealized, fun-tastic youth? Don't you think Ms. Cyrus could do that without the 6 inch heels and mini skirt. "But, David, she's got a right to wear whatever she wants. Annie Leibovitz took advantage of this child." C'mon! I'd like to know the last time Miley Cyrus chose her own clothes prior to being seen in public (Read: dressed by others in order to sell a product). And as far as exploitation goes, well, let's check out the father who's all of a sudden back in the spotlight because he dresses like a teen angst-ridden psuedo-punk rocker with a sole patch thirty years his minor and allows his daughter to be marketed as a sex symbol.
Now I'm not saying that the Leibovitz picture is tasteful or should have been done...I really have no opinion on the picture itself. What I take issue with is a group of people making a fuss when it makes them look holier than thou, as the saying goes. Our society is built on the sale of sex, especially in images, whether overtly or not (Does anyone remember the Rolling Stone cover with Britney Spears on it? Even if she was 18, which I don't think she was, she was being marketed as much younger than that in the picture--I mean, she's holding a teletubby!). To sit back and be ok with it 99% of the time--or worse yet, actively participate in it by purchasing items by companies marketing these girls as sex symbols--and then become outraged by something like this is just offensive. Stop with your bullshit stances. If you're going to speak up about the offensive nature of so much of our mass media, then do it. But don't do it in such a halfassed way. If you're going to stand for something, stand for something. But, my god, make it something worthwhile. And, at least be consitent when you do it.
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- David Luke Doody
- David Luke Doody is a freelance writer and editor. He is a founding editor of InDigest Magazine (www.indigestmag.com), an online literary magazine and the blog editor for Guernica Magazine (www.guernicamag.com). His writing and interviews have appeared in those magazines as well as in The Huffington Post, mnartists.org, The Minnesota Twins Yearbook, and Intentionally Urban Magazine, among others.
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