Miley Cyrus and Child Pornography

In case there are people who still don’t know, Miley Cyrus is the star of Disney’s-oh yes, DISNEY,that’s the point, as we’ll see- highly successful series Hannah Montana, about a “young teen pop sensation”. The series itself is of course juvenile in the extreme, toes all the conventional, suburban American points of view on how people are expected to behave and is squeaky clean with regards to,well, anything even remotely interesting. All the characters are the standard unwavering stereotypes, exceptional only in how little they deviate from the “standard model”.

Fine, I’ve seen it, its mildly entertaining and she has a very decent voice and the songs are nice in the “what a wonderful-if-unreal-world” sense. The point I’m trying to make is, it’s hardly great art.

THIS is:

Miley Cyrus in Vanity Fair

Except, everybody else thinks it’s porn.

This is Annie Leibovitz’s photo of her for Vanity Fair. Remember Annie Leibovitz, the great artist? Annie Leibovitz, who defined the style of the Rolling Stone? Annie Leibovitz, who does NOT do porn? As you can see, it’s a fairly straightforward shot. It is NOT topless in the conventional sense: there are no visible bare breasts. There is no overtly sexual posing- if you don’t get what that means, go here.( My tribute to the most beautiful woman in the world. I think this is art too, by the way, I just won’t try to sell anyone else on it :). I love you, Megan!!!). This is a shot that exposes the vulnerability of a young girl on the verge of womanhood, whose life has been made a parade by the same people who now denounce this picture and the artist who took it for exploiting her. And what do her fans say?

Miley Cyrus – ‘Hannah Montana’ – Baby Porn Star.


Miley Ray Cyrus … is she the new Britney Spears?

I mean,seriously. I guess the comparison was inevitable sooner or later, but for THIS???

Now given the topic and my deliberately misleading title, I feel the need to issue a few clarifications

  1. Child pornography is BAD.
  2. Art is Good.
  3. Annie Leibovitz is a great photographer.
  4. This photo is NOT porn, or even “sexualized”, whatever that means. And most importantly,
  5. Most people are all too willing to cry “exploitation” and bow to political correctness when they have no clue what they are really condemning.

Of course, given the controversy little Miley and her parents have made their protests and denouncements:

“For Vanity Fair, I was so honored and thrilled to work with Annie. I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. The pictures of me on the internet were silly, inappropriate shots. I appreciate all the support of my fans and hope they understand that along the way I am going to make mistakes and I am not perfect.”

Meantime Annie Liebowitz released a statement saying, “I’m sorry that my portrait of Miley has been misinterpreted.”

At least she’s not apologizing…

Link to the original Vanity Fair article, here .

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13 thoughts on “Miley Cyrus and Child Pornography

  1. Pingback: Miley Cyrus and Child Pornography

  2. I definitely agree that it’s not porn, but on the issue of whether it’s devoid of sexuality, I don’t know.
    I agreed with your post all the way through, and then I stopped and asked myself if the photo would still have its value as art if Miley Cyrus was not fifteen, but, say, eight. And I think the answer is no, it wouldn’t; at least not good art, anyway.
    Even according to you, the photo “exposes the vulnerability of a young girl on the verge of womanhood”. And ‘womanhood’ itself implies a certain sexuality, being on the verge of it even more, because that is a transition into a sexuality.

    In my opinion, the photo has created a stir precisely because of the sexuality. But the line that divides liberals and conservatives is the same line that divides sexuality in art and pornography.


  3. Oh, I definitely think that the photo has a certain component of sexuality, and that it wouldn’t be art without it. My point was that it is very different from photography which has sexual titillation as its primary objective. I wouldn’t know how to define it – even the Supreme Court of the United States declined to do so in a formal ruling, saying instead that “we know what it is when we see it”.I think the difference is clear.

    PS:”Sexualized” means something else, by the way. It’s one of those new contextually altered words. Can’t define it exactly,though, as I mentioned. Neither can Google. Free dictionary ( gives make sexual, endow with sex, attribute sex to; “The god was sexualized and married to another god”; “Some languages sexualize all nouns and do not have a neuter gender”, but I don’t think that’s it.

  4. Erm… sincerest apologies, but my point wasn’t some Christ-like betrayal by her followers any way. My point was just that you’d equate an artistic shot with a not particularly high proportion of actual nudity to…well, you know the details of THAT story. Besides, you said “Miley, or MRC as I like to call her“, and I assumed that if you gave her a nickname you probably were, in fact, a fan :).

    Also, to add my 2 cents to the comments on your blog, the father-daughter pose disturbed me more,too, I just thought if no one else saw it it must be just my perviness :).

  5. Plenty of people are just as sickened or even more sickened by the daddy/daughter pose. The point is… the kid, and she still is a kid, is looking like she’s just been laid. And this ‘kid’ has a child audience who want to do everything like her.

    There’s a fine line between porn and art, and this sits right on it.

  6. She’s 15. I’m 19. Admittedly, I have grown a lot in the last 4 years, had most of the formative experiences of my life and what-not, but this particular girl has already been through what will be the biggest change of her life, the fame and the money and the adoration and the constant public scrutiny.

    The point of this post was very simple: it’s not a photo for the sake of titillation,its art, and she’s not so young or naive or whatever that you should erupt at the way she’s posing just because of her age.

    Also, I disagree that it looks like she’s just been laid. That is one way of looking at it, but you could just as well consider it the way I put it in the post: it’s a shot that exposes the vulnerability of a young girl on the verge of womanhood. That implies a certain sexuality, but not necessarily what you said. And I most vehemently disagree with your implied notion that because she has a child audience her life is not her own.

  7. Vulnerability, dude. You said it.

    I suppose you’re a big fan of Nabukov’s “Lolita” as well.

    Art, crap.

  8. Actually, I find most classics boring-isn’t that what Lolita is almost universally considered as? A classic? You don’t have to condone the actions of the characters, all the novel demands is that you accept that some people feel that way. In any case, that considers a different question, namely the twisted realities of human nature. This is far simpler: you can hardly deny that this 15-year old in particular is quite “vulnerable”, and you can hardly deny that the photo brings it out. To quote from a previous comment, “the line that divides liberals and conservatives is the same line that divides sexuality in art and pornography.” Assuming that’s true and this a subjective issue, it is up to the girl to decide what the picture represents and how she wants to be seen. And the comments on the Vanity Fair article clearly indicate that till people started calling her a porn star, she had no problems whatsoever with it.

  9. You say the photo in question shows the ‘vulnerability’ of a girl on the verge of womanhood. I, and many others, do not see it that way. And I’m in no way a conservative.

    Of course the girl had no problems with the picture. She has been encouraged all her life to ‘perform’. And the *only* reason she developed a problem with it was due to Disney being a bit miffed about their product looking like a whore.

    You say this is simple – this is art – it shows her ‘vulnerability’ etc.

    What this shows is how easily teen celebrities will be manipulated by parents/promoters/managers. They *used* her for controversy, used her ‘vulnerability’ and exposed her. Sure, she may be loving the publicity. It’s kept her front cover for more time than she deserves. But this is not art. This is the blatant abuse of the ‘vulnerability’ of Miley Cyrus – Miley Cyrus, the product, owned by Disney and sold out by her parents.

    Yes, rambling one… there is a whole lot more to this than a half naked girl.

  10. Sorry for the delay, had a lot of traveling to do…

    I must admit I don’t know quite how to respond to your particular-and obviously popular-point of view. The only response I can think of is the one that I’ve already given, after your first comment: give her a little credit. Sure, its likely that she’s being manipulated into doing some things she may not want to do, like all the rest of us, but I honestly don’t know if I can call it “abuse”. Why not grant her the respect she deserves just for surviving this long by giving her at least the same capacity for intelligent decision making-in terms of WHAT SHE WANTS- that you would assume in a normal 15 year old?

    Yet again: you have some curious ideas about what whores look like.

  11. Why can’t she express her “vulnerability” and “emerging womanhood” with clothes on? There are much more artistic ways to go about demonstrating that than this. Most of the men I know would not see this as art; they’d see it as sexualized. As much as we’d like to think it is art, it’s not- not in today’s society.

  12. Maybe this is just my elitism peeking through, but I don’t think what “most men think” has anything to do with whether or not this is art. Maybe the mark of a great artist is that it takes tomorrow’s society to appreciate her art: one step ahead of the common man, so to speak. As to whether she can do it with her clothes on, maybe she can, but meanwhile at least compared with the fully clothed shots we’ve seen so far this one expresses it far better.

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