First Britney. Then Lindsay. And now: Miley Cyrus. Do they ever learn?
By “they,” I don’t mean the girls. I mean their parents. Where are they? What the hell are they thinking?
I don’t know how many times I’ve asked those questions over the years as a parade of young Hollywood starlets has burst onto the scene with wholesome charm, achieved dizzying fame and fortune, and then crashed back to Earth half-naked with corrupted souls and drug-glazed eyes.
Are parents without scruples more likely to sacrifice their daughters to the wolves of the entertainment industry? Or does show business sap all the common sense out of mothers and fathers who should know better? Either way, they are guilty of child abandonment.
Cyrus, for those of you without girls in the house, is the 15-year-old singer/actress with a runaway hit TV show (“Hannah Montana”), lucrative concert tour, and a Disney empire valued at nearly $1 billion. (Fortunately, my 7-year-old daughter is more fanatical about horses than cable pop stars.) The Mickey Mouse company is now in full meltdown mode over Cyrus’s latest photo shoot gone awry.
The photographer was famed celebrity snapper Annie Leibovitz. The magazine is Vanity Fair. Why those two names didn’t set off alarm bells the size of Texas for the Cyrus adults is beyond me. Leibovitz has a reputation for talking subjects into titillating poses under the guise of “art.” She put Demi Moore naked and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair.
She also put rising glamour girls Keira Knightly and Scarlett Johansson on the magazine’s cover unclothed; Johansson’s back side was completely exposed. Another promising young actress, Rachel McAdams, had the dignity, class, and self-posession to refuse to appear in the photo spread. When she arrived on set and discovered what the editors were up to, she walked out and fired her representative.
So where were Miley’s parents during the photo shoot? Dad hung out for a while posing for some of the photos (which featured bare-midriffed Miley draped across his knee); Vanity Fair quickly posted some video footage of those scenes to somehow “prove” that Miley wasn’t manipulated:
But according to the NYPost, Billy Ray left the set before the controversial nude photo was taken–and somehow, Miley’s grandmother and teacher who were left to supervise her had no clue about what was going on, either:
Miley’s parents did leave the shoot and were not present for the final shot, nor did they see any digital images of the shot in question,” a Miley spokeswoman told The Post yesterday.
Her grandmother and her teacher were left to supervise, according to People magazine.
“Annie convinced them it was going to be artistic,” a source told People. “Her parents are mortified.”
According to the Vanity Fair article, Miley herself recognized she was being coaxed into the shot by a cunning Leibovitz:
And though the pose was Annie Leibovitz’s idea, the topless but demure portrait accompanying this article could be seen as another baby step, as it were, toward a more mature profile. “I think it’s really artsy,” Cyrus says. “It wasn’t in a skanky way.… And you can’t say no to Annie. She’s so cute. She gets this puppy-dog look and you’re like, O.K.”
Somebody should have been there to say no. And there were ample opportunities to intervene.
Like when Leibovitz coaxed the 15-year-old into taking her clothes off.
Or when she coaxed the teenager into getting made up with smoky eyes and ruby-stained lips.
Or when she gave the girl a silk blanket and mussed up her hair and told her to look over her shoulder and look like she had just awoken after a one-night stand.
The adults surrounding Miley Cyrus shamelessly abdicated their responsibility to protect her best interests. Mom and Dad got caught up in the Vanity Fair glam. Vanity Fair didn’t see a 15-year-old girl. They saw magazine sale dollar signs. And Annie Leibovitz saw skin, skin, skin and another notch in her belt.
The parents, grandmother, and teacher are not alone in shouldering blame. Shame on Liebovitz and the pretentious left-wing editor of Vanity Fair, Graydon Carter.
“Artists” and “literary magazine editors?” Nonsense. They’re the elitist version of Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis and his video camera operators, coaxing girls to take it all off–just with more refined tones and high-minded pretentiousness.
Andrew Bolt lays into Graydon Carter: “Ah, yes, the poseur Carter, who pushes sleaze while preaching eco-salvation like some New Age prophet – a Gulfstream prophet in a Dior hairshirt, that is. Such a phoney. Save the environment, he bellows, while trashing the environment that actually matters most. Our moral one.”
Leibovitz used the trick dirty-old-men artists have employed to seduce vulnerable girls through the ages: she persuaded Miley that the pictures were “artistic”. But this is no celebration of young beauty. It is a blatant bedroom shot. Leibovitz saw the shock potential, the lip-smacking titillation, in posing a star known for her wholesome, girlish role in Disney’s Hannah Montana as if photographed by her deflowering first boyfriend.
What is more cynical is the decision by Vanity Fair’s supposed high-moralist Graydon Carter to publish the pictures. He saw their potential in selling his magazine’s special teen issue, since the chief excitement surrounding girl-women such as Cyrus concerns their entry on to the sexual marketplace. Years ago a website even ticked off the days and hours until the moment Britney Spears was “legal”.
It is the madness of Britney, and the drug problems and food disorders of Lindsay Lohan – both were also preteen Disney stars – that should prey upon the consciences of Leibovitz, Carter and Miley’s parents, who attended the shoot. Miley should be guided with care and respect into the adult stage of her career (if that’s what she wants), bypassing the money and headline-making phase of ravaged Lolita.