What Were They Thinking?
Rita Papazian
Norwalk-Citizen News
May 1, 2008

What Were They Thinking? By Rita Papazian It's another incident of "What were they thinking?" The they, in this case, are the parents of Miley Cyrus, the photographer Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair, Disney representatives and the people who are shepherding Miley's career.

Unless you don't watch TV, read the newspapers or go online, you've heard the fallout of 15-year-old Miley, dba Hannah Montana, posing semi-topless wrapped in a sheet for Vanity Fair's acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz for the current issue of the popular adult magazine. Since when is Vanity Fair's readership the fan base that has catapulted this teen and her alias Hannah Montana into a potential billion dollar business for Disney? The Disney channel broadcasts the popular family show that children from six to 16 watch with their families. Miley just signed a seven figure book deal with the Disney Book Group. Now that's better than working at Dunkin Donuts, where my oldest child got her first job at 15.

When I read about this photo spread, which also includes a provocative photo of Miley and her country singer dad Billy Ray Cyrus, who also appears on the Disney show, my thoughts were that I knew the image of Miley Cyrus and her alter ego were too 

She had been a breath of fresh air and wholesomeness for today's young girls after America has endured Paris, Nicole, Lindsey and Britney. Maybe there's something about your name ending in Y that leaves parents and grandparents shaking their heads, "Why?'

I don't understand why Billy Ray would allow his daughter to pose that way, as if she had just gotten out of bed. And why is a 15-year-old girl and her father posing with their bodies stretched out, one in front of the other, (she's in his lap) facing the camera?

Did we ever see Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret O'Brien and Shirley Temple as young teens posed in such a provocative manner? As I recall, Taylor's poses through her seven decades of fame have always been age appropriate. I recall photos of Taylor with her youthful beauty riding her horse. Now that would have been more appropriate for Miley to be posed in open fields with horses and mountains rather than bed sheets.

Liebovitz's response to the controversy was that the photos are artistic. Also, she says Miley's parents were at the shoot and approving the photos, which were shot digitally so they saw everything that was shot. She also made reference to Miley approving the photos. Really? A famed photographer, who has a noted reputation for pushing the envelope for artistic advantage, cites the nod of approval from a teen in defending the photos.

Disney is none too happy. After all, they like to tout wholesomeness and with Miley the family channel is in the business of wholesomeness.

"The View" weighed in on the controversy. Joy Behar observed how Miley's success has re-ignited her father's career.

It's not easy being a parent today and it surely is not easy being a grandparent standing on the sidelines watching youngsters growing up with the influence of the music industry, the Internet, and the merchandising of all things "Princess." It gets more difficult for me every year to accept the changes in our generation of children. I found a photo of myself the other day. You know how sometimes you clean out a draw or move a stack of magazines and say, "How did this picture get here?" That was one of those moments. It was a photo of me at age five sitting on the grass with a line of my dolls in front of me. My mother had washed all the dolls clothes. I sat there in my pinafore dress with my three dolls in their dresses. The dolls even had their bonnets on; after all, we were posing in the summer sun.

Copyright 2008 Rita Papazian All rights reserved.