Have We Learned Nothing from Britney?

Posted by on May 4, 2008

Um yeah, it’s me…weighing in on the already somewhat yawnworthy topic of Miley Cyrus’ photos in Vanity Fair because the world really NEEDS one more opinion on the matter.

Simply put, I think the photos were inappropriate for a fifteen year old girl.

Really, the one with her dad kind of made my skin crawl. They really looked more like lovers than father and daughter. It’s just…ewww. Yick.

And I know somebody is going to say that it’s because my mind is in the gutter that I feel that way and that shot is beautiful and to that I will say, “Shut up and go sit over there with Rosie O’ Donnell (who frankly scares me a bit when she gets on her web cam all close-up and stuff).

As for the other photo — please. Someone could sit here all day long coming up with reasons why it’s not an objectionable photo and I will shrug my shoulders and say “Okay, if you think sexualizing young girls is alright…”

See, it’s not a question of whether she’s fifteen and got raging hormones or because all teenage girls like to try their hand at being sexy and grown up blah blah. That’s probably all true and I don’t begrudge Cyrus the right to grow up. Miley herself is not the problem. The problem is that she appeared in a magazine geared toward adults in a bedheaded, come-hither Brigitte Bardot pose and she’s a child. Sexualizing her like that, no matter how much she might think it’s cool and edgy, is messed up. Period.

And I don’t give a flying fig (my dorky new substitute for the F word) about Annie Leibovitz or how awesometastical her work is. If asking a child to pose like that is the pinnacle of her creativity, then she’s all washed up and should consider retiring and if she couldn’t see this sh!tstorm coming from a mile away then she’s stupid, too.

The real coup would have been to portray Miley in an interesting and different way from her teen idol persona without resorting to that tired old standby of a half-dressed female. Christalmighty, I’ve seen innumerable half naked women and a lot of weird eroticized pregnant bellies and all sorts of other wack bullshit on the cover of Vanity Fair and it’s actually just so trite. And edgy? Please. Is it really edgy when everyone is doing it?

The fact that the primary responsible adults in Miley’s life left the shoot before it was over and didn’t bother, so it seems, to get something in the contract stating that said they must approve the photos before publication says to me that they are all very naive (they’re not) or that they really don’t care about Miley as long as she continues her run as the golden goose of the Cyrus family.

Sorry. It’s hard not to be cynical because seriously, this “innocent ingenue blossoming into a sexy ‘not a girl not yet a woman’ ” routine? It seems, I don’t know..a little…familiar? Perhaps it’s time to stop making kids into megastars and let them be kids so we won’t be so horrified when they try to grow up.

And to all the parents out there crying about how your child’s role model has disappointed you and how shocked you are etc. please, take this ticket and GET ON THE CLUE TRAIN because seriously — what did you expect? Have we learned nothing from Britney?

I saw this one mom on TV going on and on about how much her five year old loves Hannah Montana and how this is so distressing for her. Your FIVE year old? Why is your FIVE year old watching a TV show about a teenager who’s a secret rock star ANYWAY? Little kids should be watching shows made for little kids. They already grow up way too fast. Why speed the plow?

And Disney*? Seriously, WHY is the target demographic for Hannah Montana 6-14 year olds? Like 14 yr olds are going to be entertained by TV fare appropriate for a 6 year old? No. Of course not. But a 6 yr old is more than happy to watch something better suited to a tween or teen and therein lies the problem.

If you allow kids the opportunity to start idolizing a teen celebrity you will always be disappointed because guess what? Like little puppies and kittens, they always grow up and suddenly they’re not so cute anymore. They’re flashing their crotch every other night (Britney) and getting knocked up at 16 (Jamie Lynn) and making headlines for their sex tape (Paris) and nude photos on the internet (Vanessa). And your innocent child, most likely a little girl, is right there taking it all in while you fumble for the right words to explain why the object of her adoration decided to do whatever stupid thing she did.

At one point, my daughter really wanted to watch Hannah Montana (and yes I have seen it). But we don’t let her. She’s allowed to listen to her songs and that’s it. We’ve avoided the whole Hannah Montana marketing juggernaut, the ridiculous ticket prices for shows that sell out in five minutes and an assload of cheap Hannah Montana-branded crap littering our house. Instead of obsessing over a fake/real/??? rock star, my daughter spends time reading, playing outside and doing a lot of imaginative and creative things. I’m not saying she doesn’t watch TV, because she does, but she watches things that are better suited to a child her age. Why? Because I don’t want her fixating on a teenage celebrity who will eventually do something that is well beyond the understanding of a thankfully unsophisticated seven year old. Oh wait…that’s already happened. Heh.

I apologize in advance for the judgmental tone but really, I’m rather relieved to not have to explain a single thing about Miley Cyrus to my child and I’m really glad I’m not afraid to say “no” to either of my children. The world wants to consumerize, demographize, commoditize, homogenize and, sadly, sexualize our kids as soon as they’re able to and I intend to fight it for as long as I can.

Opposing viewpoints are welcome but be nice.

(While I’ve got you here, check out this Disney billboard in China WTF????????)


  • kittenpie says:

    I’ll be honest, I only saw the one photo of her with the sheet, so I’m not sure about the whole shoot overall, but I liked that photo. It reminded me more of an old master painting than anything overtly sexual. Instead, I would be more grossed out by the skankier pictures on the ‘net, which seem to have involved more of her own judgment, and I think it’s a shame to see that, because otherwise, on the whole, she seemed like a girl coming into her own as a young woman rather well and with some class.

  • They should cover that girl up. With all the sensationalization going on, it’s better to be conservative.

  • Outnumbered says:

    I just have to agree with you and add that the Disney billboard…GROSS. This coming from a grown adult who loves all things Disney. Where was that little girls mother during the bra and panties shot? “Kid-ying” up the shot with puppets just makes it all the more freaky.

  • Janssen says:

    GREAT post – I agree that it was a totally inappropriate photo shoot. Bless you for standing up for yourself and being willing to tell your kids no!

  • Diana says:

    I have a little bit different take on the pictures themselves, should probably finish that post in draft. *sigh*

    But the rest of the post? I thought I was the only mom in the world getting the three-headed “Wha??? You banned Hannah Montana from the get-go???” looks!

    A-to-the-Men, Janet!

  • Kathy says:

    I thought the picture of her and her father was far creepier than the sheet one.

  • All Adither says:

    I wonder if there’s any DIFFERENT out there…seems like it’s all been done to death. I’m proud to be completely Hannah Montana ignorant.

  • I couldn’t agree more!

  • OMG, I want to pull my eyes out of my head after seeing that billboard. I wish I could cancel my trip to Disney in protest but my children will shoot me.

    And, regarding MC—she’s a dope if she thought the photos were innocent. Puh-leeze. And shame on her parents for leaving her alone on that shoot.

  • Aprylsantics says:

    I totally agree. And that billboard. Ew and WTF? to the tenth power. Heebie Jeebies and creepy crawlies, too.

  • Amy@UWM says:

    Totally with you on this. But I do let my 5 year old watch “Hannah Montana” mostly because it’s impossible to bar her from the room when my 8 year old watches. But I’ve watched many of the episodes myself and they’re pretty harmless. The story lines are fairly innocent, usually resolving in some positive life lesson (the ones I’ve seen were about honesty, family loyalty, importance of friendship, etc.). No more racy than the Brady Bunch. Did you not watch the Partridge Family growing up? I was about 5 when I was crushing on Keith Partridge…

  • Tricia says:

    Perfectly said and all I can add is…ditto!

  • Janet says:

    @ Amy

    I did consider the Partridge Family because I watched it when Iwas little but Susan Dey and David Cassidy never did the things that teen stars today do or if they did, they were discreet enough that it wasn’t front page news.

    I’ve watched HM a few times and I agree that it’s not Girls Gone Wild material but the point I was trying to make is that it’s not really about the show. It’s about the teen stars that our kids fixate on. I think it’s best to leave that door closed until they’re a bit older.

  • Everyone on the blogging universe is outting there 2 cents on this one. Here’s mine:

    My 11 year old daughter watches Hannah Montana and she has no idea of the picture because we don’t allow her to look at magazines that’s not geared to her aga group. We also monitor her internet use.

    Anyway, the issue doesn’t really shock me. Like you, I expected it because it’s just the things are in Hollywood. It’s a career move. She is laying the foundation for her adult career much like all the teenage stars.

    Everyone who is getting all worked up about this whole thing should get over themselves. If you are raising your children properly then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    Miley Cyrus was not the first one and she’s certainly won’t be the last one who will pull something like this.

  • “like puppies and kittens, they grow up”

    I really, really like that.

  • SciFi Dad says:

    I’m 100% with you about the cover photo.

    However, and maybe I’m just being naive, I didn’t get an overly sexualized sense from the one of her and her father. I’ve made a similar comment elsewhere, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that beyond all the Hannah, the Achy Breaky, and everything else, he’s still her Daddy. And I know that even when my daughter is 15, if she needs to be held like my little girl, I’m going to hold her like my little girl (not wrapped only in a bedsheet mind you).

    But that’s just my impression.

  • Pendullum says:

    When I was a kid, in grade six,a girl in my class was doing bathing suit ads… For a fashion mag…
    She was all dolled up in high heels, lip gloss, big eyes…
    I remember her bringing in the photos and all were quite in awe of it all…
    I remember my parents freaking…
    They had a whole long talk about their belief system as a result…So glad that they were around to parent me…

    Models, are but children and the love of a Lolita type of girl is still in our midst… Sad but true…

  • Jessica says:

    I think the issue lies not with what Miley did herself, but in the media frenzy that ensued. The photos aren’t that bad, or even original. If there wasn’t a media uproar about it, our kids wouldn’t know anything about it.

    The reason we didn’t hear anything about David Cassidy and Susan Dey doing things we wouldn’t approve of was probably due more to the fact that there wasn’t TMZ or Perez Hilton hounding them at every turn, digging up dirt to get more hits on their celebrity gossip blog, than it was to their “discreteness”. Just googling David Cassidy, in fact, brings up stories of drugs, groupies, and an affair with Susan Dey while filming The Partridge Family.

    My point is that the actors and actresses are no different today than they were a few years ago. The media is different and chronicles their every move, and we eat it like candy. I’m guilty as charged but I’m increasingly alarmed and disgusted by the extremes to which this is occurring.

  • Emily says:

    When I first saw the photos, I was all,”Big flippin whoop.” I really didn’t see why it was that big of a deal. But I have to say, you have made some excellent points here and you have changed my mind. I agree with you 100% on the point about Annie Leibovitz having her do something cool and not the tired old “girl in sheet” routine.

    It’s odd to me that the media sexualizes girls younger and younger while at the same time wondering why teenage girls are ending up pregnant.

    It’s also time for parents to step up and be a role model for their kids. We should stop pawning that responsibility off to people who will continually disappoint.

    It was my first time to visit your website…I’ll be lurking now!

  • OMG, maybe Tyra will call and ask us to be on her show and we can argue about this! :D Dueling blog posts! You would be SO FUN to oppose! We’d have to choreograph a good hair pulling fight, though, a la Rock of Love 2.

  • Lisse says:

    I don’t have girls, so my objection to the MC photo was never about the message it sent to young girls. It was more about the message VF was sending to adults, that it’s OK to stare at a 15 year old girl with no clothes on. She may technically be an adolescent, but she still has the body of a child. She and may others need to be protected from the eyes of the prying and perverse.

  • Lela says:

    I totally agree, I do not undersand why people feel the need to push their children into the trashlight like that. I thank God my daughter could give a crap about the trash jobs these tween stars have become. Yes she likes their music, but as for their personal lives beyond that, she doesn’t care, she does her own thing. And as long as it involves three layers of clothing, including hooded sweatshirts, I’m all for it.

  • Emily says:

    I don’t have kids but I have to say what bugs me most of all is that this is a magazine for grown ups. Grown ups who, as far as I know, haven’t had to grow up with the media following their every move praying for them to screw up so they can sell more advertising.

    Shame on them (and Annie L). Young girls already want to grow up too fast. I know I couldn’t wait to be out there all “growed up” but the real world isn’t like a tv show aimed at tweens and doesn’t always have a happy ending.

    Vanity Fair is like the creepy uncle in this instance and the fact that a group of grown ups chose to exhibit a teenage girl in this way, bothers me far beyond the actual photos.

  • AMEN!

    I’d comment at more length but LOL you should see my blog post today (part two of this topic for me). With a twist! I show two photos that the photo COULD have been…and been better.

    Oh also I quoted you in the comments. :)


  • FENICLE says:

    I totally agree with you. I also wondered where he adviser’s, parents, agent, etc… were.

    I wrote a post last week about her being a commodity and I’m not surprised she’s ended up here. But I feel like if we are going to criticize her photo’s we need to think about some of the pic’s we see everyday (like Abercrombie). It’s our culture that she’s grown up in – we teach these young kids (girls in particular) to believe it’s OK.


  • Amy says:

    I have been harping on for what seems like years about how those Disney shows are pitched to elementary schoolers & they’re really for tweens. I don’t get it. I’ve been tryingtryingtrying to keep my boys away from those shows – because like you said – I’d like to keep them their age as long as possible.

    But it’s bloody difficult.

  • Holly says:

    You said it better than I could.

  • Cassey says:

    I’m glad to hear another opinion on this matter, because your opinion makes sense. But if I read another post about how “she wasn’t nude she had sheet on” I will scream.

  • Emily says:

    I just recently found out that HM and MC were the same person. I’m so behind.But if her parents leave her alone on a photo shoot set with nothing but a sheet, they obviously trust their daughter’s money-making abilities. Sad.

  • Christina says:

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who thinks six year olds shouldn’t be watching Hanna Montana. At the zoo this weekend, I saw so many little, little girls with Hanna Montana t-shirts on, and I couldn’t believe it. It’s a cute show, and perfect for a pre-teen, but not appropriate for a younger child.

    Parents shouldn’t be outraged at the photo shoot and the message it sends to their kids. They should be outraged with themselves for letting their little kids watch the show to begin with.

  • Heather says:

    Amen, Janet.

  • I haven’t seen that dad/daughter picture before. That’s just wrong…

  • George says:

    Good points. Her parents should not have allowed the photo shoot to take place. She has so many young five year old and older kids who look up to her. As far as the Disney photo, that is inappropriate as well.

  • I agree with you completely about HM. I just wanted to chime in on the Chinese ad – EWWWWW! So wrong in so many ways.

  • This is the nice site! I love examples of articles which were written, and especially the comments posted! I’ll definately be visiting again!

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