Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And some more punditry, 'cause I know y'all love it:

About those Miley Cyrus photos? Well......I'm going to shoot straight down the middle with my opinion, something I rarely do. Most people are saying, "It's inappropriate/child porn/what were her parents thinking??" or "Leave her alone, it's lovely/ she's covered up/ there's nothing wrong with it."

I don't think it's that simple ( well, at least I'm keeping SOME of my normative opining style, here!). My thoughts are just, "Hmm. It's a Not porn, or dirty per se, nor is the pic of her and her dad "incestuous" as some people claim. It also is.....slightly off. " There's this possible suggestion of all sorts of innuendo in both photos, but when you look closely, there's really nothing quite too tangibley WRONG about any of them. Everyone has their clothes on, there's no hint of tawdry or sultry, or even sensual. They're beautifully shot, and that's that.

And then yet there's this moment in looking at them where I go, "Uh, ????" For example, if Miley would have been wearing a sweet blouse instead of a belly-baring tank top whilst lounging on her dad's lap, it would have been utterly chaste. And if she'd been wearing a backless swimsuit or something, in her other photo, I suspect the read might have been more "girl growing up" versus the incindiery image of projection that it is now.

As it stands, both photos read neither fish nor fowl, because they aren't clearly sexualized, nor are they staunchly pure. And there's no Britney-esque coyness about them, that "I'm going to play both sides of the Lolita coin, and claim sexy and innocent and use them to my advantage whenever I see fit" that she had at Miley's age. Nor is there any empty, vapid, "We'll make a buck off of this" hucksterism in them either.

My thoughts actually ARE that there were some poor choices made, both by the Cyrus family, in their naivete about "arty" type photo shoots ( it's not like she's done them before, or Dad did them before, or any such other. ) or the art end of photography itself-- it's obvious they haven't really used that to their advantage in terms of knowing how to manipulate the medium well and engender or avoid publicity. ( Which is even further evidenced by Miley's semi-racy teen candid shots making rounds on the web; she's clearly just goofing off, doing things that young girls will, not thinking about the way it might be perceived by the media. ) This girl has been bought, paid for, and owned by Disney since day one, and THEY do all the packaging there is. Any thing else -- red carpet appearances, guest hosting, magazine shoots outside of the "Hannah Montana" realm-- are solely up to the discretion of her handlers. Who, let's face it, aren't particularly well versed in this arena. (Unlike, say, Britney's parents, who seem to have been born to shuck and jive their daughters for the biggest buck.). It is my sense from looking at the photos that they were caught up in the moment and since they weren't overtly sexual or improper, the implications weren't quite clear in the bigger picture of things.

And some of the blame has to be on Annie Leibowitz, who, while a brilliant and talented photographer, perhaps made some dumb choices here as well. The girl is 15. She may look beautiful in a silk sheet, and it's all very pretty and young and fresh, but think, Annie, THINK. What will that picture look like in a larger context? Well, it's not inappropriate. She's not naked. There's not much implication that she's naked. It's art! Uh.....if it's art, it's art that is, like I stated before, not a clear read on what the image is trying to portray. Surely you can do better than that, you have done better than that, and it seems here you got kind of lazy and ended up with a vague pictoral that is something that would get critiqued crappily in a Photo I class for not having a distinct viewpoint, and then twice over for that error to bring in possible insinuations from those in society with little time on their hands to do more than see whatever gigantic fears they have projected large on them.

But you, like every other artist with a lazy eye, first year, second year, or last year of art school, would argue "That was my point!! To blur the lines! To point out what society will project when not given a clear locus of orientation toward the sexuality of youth!!!" Which is just another way of saying " It got away from me/ I didn't know what I was doing/ It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now it doesn't play well and I'm in a shitstorm so now I have to try and swim. " Or maybe you'll take the intergity you have shown in the past and SAY that and open yourself up to all manner of both deserved and undeserved critiscism, and then snap out of whatever haze of automatic pilot you were on in your work, just move on, keep doing what you're doing, and eventually rise above it.

And hopefully that's what the Cyrus family will do. There's alot of speculation that Disney made Miley apologize, and maybe they did. But I don't see it as a bad thing, because frankly, it sounds sincere anyway. She clearly got a glimpse of the Bigger Picture this time, her FIRST time doing a large high-art, high-fashion magazine, and I suspect this will leave her and her family MUCH savvier in ther future. Not everyone is as lucky as Hilary Duff, who had parents who were obviously worldly enough to have a sense about these things, and very closely scrutinized their daughter's every image. Which, unfortunately, I think is neccessary. Even with Annie Leibowitz, 'cause world-class photographers clearly have off-days, too, and hit shy of the mark, or lose the mark altogether.

So that's my story: everyone hit shy of the mark, or lost the mark, and got THIS, and now it's very confusing, and it's clearly a result of everyone being off their game that day, overwhelmed, in the moment, WHATEVER. Better luck next time.

And that being my story, I'm sticking to it.