“When I met her you could tell she was on the verge. She was a girl becoming a woman. We took those pictures and I thought she looked so beautiful and having a little bit of an edge to her. She loved doing the pictures, and she was made to feel bad for doing them.” Photographer Annie Leibovitz in LA Times interview with Steve Appleford, April 19, 2014. Annie Leibovitz talks Taschen book, Miley Cyrus, John & Yoko
So, it was with interest I watch as Adult Swim announced Miley Cyrus was going to be performing this past week at their Upfronts. There was no way this wasn’t going to be interesting and sure enough, Miley didn’t disappoint. In case you’ve not already seen the pictures, she came on stage wearing a giant set of butterfly wings and not much else. Her breasts were fully exposed, her nipples covered with butterfly pasties. She wore a pair of white tights as well, but under the stage lights seeing through those wasn’t terribly difficult. For all practical purposes, she may as well have been naked. What was obvious was the fact that Miley was having fun and the rather uptight advertising suits were more than a little uncomfortable, especially when she told them where to lick her.
All this brought me back to 2008 when Vanity Fair photographer Annie Leibovitz shot a 15-year-old Miley with only her back exposed. You would have thought she had shot Hanna Montana live on the evening news for all the furor it created. Annie was demonized by practically every outlet on the planet for daring to “sexualize” a young woman in such a way. Miley was forced to apologize (and then later recanted). Vanity Fair threatened to not pay for the pictures. Everyone wondered if Annie’s famed career was over and what would happen to Miley as a result of this “horrible abuse.”
Well, now we know, don’t we?
At least, until they think no one is looking. I watch with routine amusement as my website stats fluctuate from day to day. On days when the #POTD is a landscape, hardly anyone pays attention; numbers are in the cellar. Days when the #POTD is an attractive young person see a more respectable hit count based largely on how popular that particular model might be. Let me post a picture that hints at nudity though, even if it’s implied, and watch the traffic soar! This isn’t unique to my site but is an exact reflection of traffic patterns across the Internet. If you want attention, post a picture of someone naked.
Social media hypocritically decries nudity while at the same time enjoying the fact that even there a little skin increases their traffic. They’ve each re-written their rules over time to allow for as much skin as possible without actually giving into allowing “real” nudity. So, it is in deference to Facebook and other such sites that we’re focusing this week on photos that are not quite naked. You won’t see any nipples. For that matter, you won’t always even catch side boob. Our goal is to give one reason to think about the artistry of the human body and just how messed up society’s reaction is. We hope you’ll join us. We hope you’ll think.