Photography: The Disney, Cyrus, Leibovitz, Vanity Fair Controversy

Milley Cyrus by Annie Leibovitz

Miley Cyrus by Annie Leibovitz

America has always been more reserved than Europe when it comes to nudity. This photograph of teen idol Miley Cyrus, which appeared in a recent edition of Vanity Fair magazine has sparked an amazing controversy.

Perhaps not since parents demanded the burning of ‘Beatles’ and ‘Stones‘ merchandise during the 1960s has the country not been in such uproar. Sirus who is a prodigy from the Disney organization is portrayed as ‘a gril next door’ by them. This portrait by Annie Leibovitz, who is arguably America’s most famous living photographer has been criticised because it casts doubt upon Cyrus’ wholesome image and instead portrays her as a Lolita.

Leibovitz has been accused of manipulating the photo-shoot, and also Cyrus by some. The Disney organization has accused Vanity Fair of publishing the shot ‘in order to sell magazines.’

What Disney, and America in general, have conveniently overlooked is that we in the west live in a culture of narcissism in which we, and those for whom we work, seek to rigidly control our public image. If Leibovitz saw something alien to the Disney culture in 15 year old Cyrus then was it not her responsibility to bring it to our attention?

Perhaps Disney remembers that other ‘Girl Next Door’ who in later life by all accounts became derailed ~ I refer of course to Britney Spears. Who was it that first noted that ‘sex sells’? If Cyrus is to break out from her teen image she must find a new style just as Hugh Grant could shift from being typecast as the innocent good guy to wastrel rake after his arrest with Hollywood prostitute Divine Brown.

And what of Disney’s ludicrous comment that the photograph was taken to ‘sell magazines’? Does not Disney understand that every published image in a magazine is designed to make it appealing to readers? I happen to enjoy Vanity Fair for its blend of political and fashion analysis but judging by the furore created by the Leibovitz/Cyrus image it may well have lost, rather than gained readers through this stunt.

Meanwhile even the plastic dolls in an Americanized Istanbul mall seem to look provocative. What is our society coming to?

Today’s Dolls For Tots Are Equally Provocative!

Kindly note: The image of Miley Cyrus above is used as ‘Fair Use’ in the context illustration to a news item and also academic comment. Images on the Internet may be subject to copyright.

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