Friday, May 02, 2008

Miley Cyrus: On The Brink

I will be away this weekend, visiting Allan at Virginia Beach. Like most family vacations, this means posts are unlikely, as I will have my hands full. Besides, I don't take my computer with me on such excursions.

However, before I go, I would just like to put in a word about Miley Cyrus. This may seem strange, but I have many beloved young girls in my life, even if they are not my own, and besides, I'm an art historian. This is a question of art and society.

I am tired of seeing the photograph derided as inappropriate, pornographic, or embarrassing.

Miley Cyrus, like it or not folks, stands on the brink of womanhood... and Annie Leibovitz caught that moment in a young lady's life beautifully, artfully, and tastefully. The photo is far less revealing- or provocative- than many of the costumes Disney is putting her in, with miniskirts, exposed mid-drifts, and plunging necklines- and backs (thankfully, none of them are like the costumes of other teen celebrities- they still maintain decorum. None of the linked photos show Miley in anything I would consider inappropriate! Though it is interesting that the footage I've seen of the costumes is far worse than any stillshot I can dig up).

If this pose is so bad, what about the one in the lap of her father? I initially mistook it for being in the lap of a boyfriend (no, I am no fan of the Cyruses and have no idea what they look like). No? And you'd be quite right- an image of a young lady being close to her father, with his strong guiding hand clasping hers, is not inappropriate, either. But it sure told you a lot about how I view teenagers and images of them, doesn't it? Something I had to rethink.

The only reason this lady has to be embarrassed is because the media is deliberately embarrassing her by broadcasting language about this photo that has no business being attached to it. Wholesome young girls CAN become strong young women, with all that womanhood entails: something Annie Leibovitz and Miley Cyrus' grandmother seemed to understand very well, and something so many of us seem to want to ignore, hide, deride, and degrade.


Niksmom said...

I am giving you a standing ovation for this! I totally agree with you on this one.

Anonymous said...

It totally makes me sick when those in the media gang together to find the negative. None of them want to see the nice, loving, as normal as they possibly get celebs. They want the dirt, the twisted, the addicted stories. Its just getting really out of hand. By the way have a fantastic vacation:)

Club 166 said...

I had pretty much ignored the story up to now because it referenced a topless 15 year old, and I just didn't want to go there-I expected either a girl being victimized by the photographer, or a very confused 15 year old not recognizing boundaries. I also didn't know that Liebowitz was the photog in question-she's always done quality stuff.

You're right-there's nothing wrong with the photo, and it's far less titillating than the stuff Disney does to her.

I think that the American public in general like to build people up and put them on a pedastal, then cut off the legs.


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kiribako said...

Strangely, the only thing that bothers me about that Miley Cyrus photo is the lipstick. I'm not really much of a portrait photographer, so I have to bow down and kiss the ground Liebowitz walks on...

The tone of the photo is like a terrible storm gathering on a summer afternoon. (Hey, she's a blond in every other photo I've seen!) That worries me some.

I would swear that I've seen several other photos that did a much better job of conveying the awkward, loose-fitting attempts of an adolescent playing the adult.

One thing I find delightful about the photo that I've yet to hear anyone else remark: Look at her resemblance to the Mona Lisa. She's got that enigmatic smile we've seen before somewhere.

Yeah, it's natural that this girl would seek to break out from childhood, and she'll be lucky if she can manage it when everybody has a vested interest in keeping her a child. What a perfect opportunity for the media to discuss the two way street of maturity - and as far as I know, they missed it.