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May 02, 2008

(VF + Miley) x Annie = Kaching Kaching

Miley Annie

But why are the media so obsessed with manufactured conflicts involving movie stars and singers and celebrities on the A-thru-D list? What's really happening behind a trend that sandwiches the Cyrus episode between reports of deaths in Iraq and the rising price of gasoline on most major news networks in the United States?

What's happening is this: The politics of distraction meets the careerist strategies of a young female gold mine. When "greed meets the lead," it's yet another example of how pandering kills the news. Those who don't work in communications can't possibly imagine how deeply planned events like the Cyrus photo shoot are, and how constructed these seemingly coincidental controversies can be.
Too bad we can't see that each time we allow ourselves to be manipulated by the myriad publicists who help manufacture these controversies, we're not just molesting these girls, we're also killing the idea of the news.

Syl Jones: Accidentally, on purpose (

I admit, I had no idea who Miley Cyrus was a week ago.

Why I find this shot interesting, however, is not because it echoes the specific image that tainted Hannah Montana, or even because of the social manipulation and political misdirection referred to above.

It's because it captures Annie Leibovitz -- a far more significant cultural icon than this 15-year-old will ever be -- in the act of serving up one more cultural molotov cocktail.

The Miley Cyrus Photo Shoot (video - VF)
Tween Angel (
slide show - VF)
Reading The Pictures:  Between Bush's TuTu and Tu Tu's Bush (Shaw - Huffington Post)
Your Turn: Vogue + LaBron (Kong?) + Gisele = Kaching (BNN)

(image: unattributed. Vanity Fair. June 2008)


It really ticks me off to no end that this Miley Cyrus non-story is replacing hard core news reporting- I haven't heard anything about Britney in days, possibly weeks!

"...a far more significant cultural icon than this 15-year-old will ever be" Well, that's not very nice. Or fair. Who are any of us to predict what another person – especially a person who's life has only just begun – will or will not accomplish? It's not fair to denigrate a child's unlived future just because you regard their current occupation as culturally frivolous.

She is cute, if I were a 15 yaer old boy I'd be wanking off to those shots day and night. And this will definitely not hurt her career.

What I love most about the shot you've got here is how it underscores the very Manet's _Olympia_esque quality of this story. No one is outraged because of the supposed besmirching of a young woman, say what they will. People are outraged because Leibovitz has forced them to confront what they all come to Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana) to see in the first place: a young sexpot.

I assume at this stage Annie isn't hurting for money. It is unfortunate that she squanders her talent manufacturing dreck.

Food, fashion, sex, religion, trendy consumer technology... whatever it takes to keep the herd distracted and chewing placidly.

Every time I'm standing at the grocery checkout, looking at images just like this one repeated over and over and over, I think: this cannot really be the *only* thing that could sell here. The few spots in these racks allocated to Popular Mechanics or Time or, well, anything that doesn't have the words "lose weight" on the cover, those are always empty, because people BOUGHT them.

No one anywhere in that picture is looking longingly at the escape on the right? They're all so focused on the blank slates - grey background, white sheet, not yet grown girl. Wouldn't any of them rather be hiking out in those green hills? Why are they even outdoors? The light, I suppose.

What I like about this shot is the bit'o'scenery we can see between the photographer and the model. It's as if to break the aura or allure of what is being photographed. It reinforces the artificiality of the process and de-emphasizes the natural sensuality of the model. In that context, the gray backdrop also reinforces the "just business" aspect of the publicity shot by its hardness in contrast to the green rolling hills.

Let us all remember that Hanna Montana aka Miley Cyrus is owned by Disney. So is ABC. So is ABC news, or what passes for that these days. Let us all contemplate now, that the corporate/republican ABC media conglomerate would much rather be talking about a money-maker for their corporate bosses than to report on any serious news, which would only anger and place them in disfavor with their political bosses. It must be tough straddling the ethical line just to make a few million dollars.

As for Liebowitz squandering her talent......she works for Vanity Fair, they tell her what to photograph. I'm sure she makes good money with benefits. If you fly airplanes for Delta, are you squandering your talent if you fly the planes they tell you to fly to the destinations they tell you to? Some people just don't have free-lancer personalities. She does what she does and does it well.

Sorry Cactus, your airplane analogy won't fly...

People NEED transportation. Photos used to generate phony controversies involving adolescent millionaires for the purpose of selling fashion magazines... not so necessary.

I might have been too harsh in saying Liebovitz squanders her talent. I have seen enough of her photography to know she is capable of more substantive work, however she is free to follow her muse wherever it leads.
Merlin German\Elisabeth Rohm

Need by the public is irrelevant. The relationship is between employer (VF) and employee (Liebowitz). What Liebowitz does with her talent/time is of little consequence to you or me. Just as whether the pilot works for Delta or flies a corporate jet for Sunbeam makes no difference to you or me. And I would posit that we do not know what Liebowitz does with her free time. I once knew a fashion photographer for a local publication who was so disenchanted by what he did for $$$ that he searched with some success for alternative subjects on his own time.

David Hamilton...annie`s photo`s pale in comparison to his and that is why this photo is well...not a bit shocking

They are using Miley`s beauty. Its not wair.

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