Miley Cyrus/Annie Leibovitz

Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana has been crowbarred into the world’s collective adult consciousness this week following a photoshoot with the never knowingly uncontroversial Annie Leibowitz.

Miley Cyrus, Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair, 2008

Miley Cyrus, Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair, 2008

Before I start I should point out that this blog entry is the result of extreme irritation at the shrill outcry at pictures of an adolescent girl looking like she might know more about sex than Disney would like (not the most difficult thing in the world given that Disney would prefer babies to arrive in the beak of a magic stork rather than 9 months after a sweaty sticky fumble in an alley). Now then…

Hannah Montana is a brand built on the sort of bland inoffensiveness which keeps children from being encouraged to discuss the harder and more worrying aspects of life by making teeny tiny skirts and onstage wiggling the stuff of tween crises. This leads me to believe that this whole thing might have been a very very cynical ploy by Disney or her parents to kick start her progression from the ridiculously saccharine world of schoolgirl-by-day-popstar-who-pays-lipservice-to-Christian-morality-by-night to a place where she can start appealing to those with the serious disposable income. Unfortunately for them it’s gone a bit wrong.

Obviously (following the daily debacles of Lindsay, Jamie Lynn and Britney) Cyrus probably has a cast iron “Thou shalt not party” clause in her contract with Disney so it makes it all the more implausible that Disney would waive the right to veto any photoshoot or interview that might compromise her wholesome image. Even more implausible is that her parents would put her career in jeopardy (whether that would be for moral, parental or financial reasons). It’s also rather unlikely that the fuss would only break out when the thing went to print and not before. I smell the profitable rat of free publicity.

You know what though? I’ve looked at the picture time and time again and it’s just not hugely interesting. She’s yet another generic young girl with good skin looking a bit chilly and dishevelled in a glossy magazine. Thousands have gone before her and more will come when she’s gone. Furthermore, if you know Caravaggio’s “Sick Bacchus” you’ll be able to see that the composition veers far closer to lazy imitation than knowing reference – made worse by the fact that it’s not even the first lazy imitation but an imitation of an imitation which (to paraphrase something from my dissertation) seeks to ginger up a mediocre image with stolen fire.

Young Sick Bacchus, Caravaggio, 1593-4

Young Sick Bacchus, Caravaggio, 1593-4

To see if other people felt the same way I visited some of the news blogs and some personal ones to have a look through the comments and a fair number of the most immediate responses (from UK sites) were NOT in fact “OMG she’s post-coital and a paedophile’s dream” but the far more prosaic “Her hair could do with a wash” and “Get her a sandwich – I can see her ribs!”.

I would like to finish by pointing out that if you go look at Vanity Fair’s website the most disturbing image by far is the one where she pouts at the camera and sprawls across her father’s lap in a bra-revealing top, looking for all the world like his mid-life crisis teenaged lover. He, meanwhile, gazes soulfully into the distance feeling the wind in his greasy locks and rests his hand on hers.

Advertisements