Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Disney Should Fire Annie Liebovitz

While the majority of the blame for this week's dust-up over the half-naked photo of Miley Cyrus deserves to be laid squarely at the feet of her parents, who showed appallingly poor judgement and didn't protect their daughter from an inappropriate situation, there is another angle to this story which I haven't yet seen explored elsewhere.

There was another adult involved in this photography session: the photographer, Annie Liebovitz. Liebovitz, who has said the come-hither photo of Cyrus was "misinterpreted," has in recent months taken a series of photographs for Disney with various celebrities posing as Disney characters. The most recent photo, of Julianne Moore as the Little Mermaid, was just released.

Given that Liebovitz did not have the common sense to recognize that it was wrong to turn a 15-year-old girl into a sex object -- let alone a 15-year-old looked up to by many young girls as the one "tween" star who seemed to have a sensible head on her shoulders -- Disney should immediately sever its connection with the photographer. Liebovitz saw an opportunity to make "news" with a controversial photograph and, heedless of what this would do to either Miley Cyrus or Disney, she took it.

It makes no sense to have the same person whose work injured the reputation of a young girl -- perhaps permanently damaging her Disney franchise -- used to publicize and pay tribute to other parts of the Disney empire. Disney should make this clear in no uncertain terms.

Update: Michelle Malkin weighs in on the controversy.


Blogger Dana said...

The fact of the matter is that Annie Liebovitz is a brilliant photographer. Her work is consistently challenging and almost always amazing. And that is why she was hcosen for the Disney campaign and to shoot Cyrus. One only had to look at her catalogue of work to see that the photo of Miley Cyrus was right in keeping with Liebovitz's styling. The look and style of this photo is certainly no surprise.

I don't see Liebovitz as the issue but more instead the poor judgement of the parents. They obviously gave consent, were there during the session, and most importantly were able to look at the proofs during selection. At any point they could have quashed it.

Liebovitz is an artist who did what she does best. The parents made a very bad call in merchandising their young daughter this way. If the Disney image is tarnished (and if it is, I don't think it will be too severe), the responsibility there will lie at the feet of the honchos who hired Liebovitz - specifically for the photographer that she is.

10:17 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Dana,

I agree to a certain extent, i.e., as I posted, I feel the main issue is her parents, as you do. And you're right they probably could have had a good idea what they were getting into, given some of Leibovitz's portfolio...on the other hand, maybe they were looking at her Disney work. :)

I still have to think that Liebovitz failed her responsibilities as an adult in a position of power who was dealing with a young girl. At some point common sense and sound judgment must prevail over artistic style.

I let my subscription to VANITY FAIR go a couple years ago due to the magazine's increasingly strident leftwing tone and Bush Derangement Syndrome. I'm certainly glad this cover won't be arriving in my mailbox...Michelle Malkin properly calls the VF publisher to account, along with the other adults involved.

Thanks much for sharing your thoughts!

Best wishes,

12:11 AM  
Blogger Terri said...

I agree with you Laura. I think the excuse of "Liebovitz is an artist" does not excuse her from bad judgement of sexualizing a child.

Disney has lost it's way, I think. The happy place for children is no longer the G rated fantasy land for kids of all ages. Look at how so many of the "Disney Kids" have turned out. I think that says it all.

3:16 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Terri!

"Disney has lost it's way, I think. The happy place for children is no longer the G rated fantasy land for kids of all ages. Look at how so many of the "Disney Kids" have turned out. I think that says it all."

I'm not sure I'd lay this at Disney's door, particularly when it comes to people like Spears who went off the rails long after their Disney association. Sadly, a certain percentage of all Hollywood child actors through the years have had significant problems as they grew older. I think this says a lot more about how these kids were parented and whether or not the parents helped child actors learn good judgment and deal with life in the celebrity fishbowl. JMHO. :)

Thanks for stopping by!

Best wishes,

8:09 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Hi Laura, I went to VF and watched the vid of the photo shoot. No suprises. An intentional sensual look, muted colors, significantly defined lips, eyes. Very Liebovitz. VF hired her specifically for this talent and ability, and Disney was fully aware of her work, and approving.

Its a money making business for all parties involved. Its art for Liebovitz as well as a money making endeavor (although she most likely didn't financially need the job), but I just can't see her as responsible for the sensualizing of Miley. It is her job to do something that will make her stand out, make the viewer look twice, give thought to the overall tone of the photo, etc.

Its Miley's parent's job to make sure their child is protected from exploitation, to maintain moral dignity predicated upon whatever value system they have raised her with, etc. They are the parents, not Liebovitz. She is the employee of VF (& Disney). Miley's parents supercede the authority and influence of both Liebowitz and Disney by a million miles.

Whats weird is choosing a forum like VF to present Miley Cyrus. Its a mag directed at upscale middle-aged women. What gives?

6:38 PM  
Blogger Dana said...

p.s. I should make it clear that I would never have given consent for my daughter to be photographed in this manner. But then I've never wanted to exploit my children.

6:42 PM  
Blogger UGN said...

Alarm bells should have gone off in Miley's mom's and dad's head when they were told it would be "artistic." That almost always means something bad. The fact that Ms. Liebovitz waited until they were gone to do this shot is very telling.

Mrs. UNG

12:38 PM  
Blogger Kori and Ken Pellman said...

As someone who works with the media for a living, I suspect that everyone involved with this knew exactly what they were doing.

I further believe that the announcement of "embarrassment" on the part of the girl was designed to boost publicity for the photos and her name, and that has obviously worked extremely well.

I wonder what Brooke Shields thinks of all of this? Remember that nothing comes between her and her jeans?

I am not excusing anyone in this matter, because I do not support the sexualizing of anyone under the age of consent for profit, and quite often those who are OVER the age of consent, either! Although the girl is a minor, she should have known better. But the bulk of the responsibility is on her parents. Still, the photographer and the magazine are also at fault. However, with the culture being the way it is, they probably see absolutely nothing wrong with this.

It's going to be awfully hard to protect my daughter from the destructive and exploitive elements of our culture by the time she reached that age. But I will try my darndest to do it.

11:43 AM  

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