Did Vanity Fair Play Fair With Miley?
Vanity Fair is a magazine for adult readers. Fifteen-year old Disney phenomenon Miley Cyrus of "Hannah Montana" is not an adult -- yet.
So by granting Vanity Fair the right to interview her and photograph her -- by none other than famed lenser Annie Leibovitz -- what should Cyrus, Disney, or her parents have expected? An adult-themed picture.
Think of the alternatives: Did you expect Leibovitz to shoot her sitting on a sofa in jeans playing a guitar or having an iced latte? Instead Cyrus, with a sleepy stare, had a bedsheet to wrap her up, and showed her naked back.
The whole emphasis of Vanity Fair is presenting artists in a different light -- or, in Cyrus' case, the next light. A profile about a teenager fronting a growing $1 billion Disney franchise will ask the obvious question -- what would that person be like as an adult, as a person and artist. Journalists are trained to get the next story, the breaking story about their subjects.
Disney has had a long history of protecting its franchises. For example, in its parks Disney never lets its actors get out of "character" -- lest it spoil the fantasy for young kids.
Additionally, for years Disney took great pains not to let its animated character creations from the movies mix in the real world -- but the juxtaposition was always tempting. Then Disney sort of crossed this bridge last winter with its hit "Enchanted."
The maturation of Cyrus would have been viewed differently, no doubt, had the interview and photograph of Cyrus occurred two years from now -- a month before her 18th birthday.
But that's not the most pressing concern. With Cyrus, someone needs to ask a bigger entertainment marketing question -- who at Disney gave the a-okay for her to do this interview?
After that we can all muse about what happens to this Disney franchise and whether parents -- who still control some teenage purse strings and an occasional TV remote control -- will still let their kids interact with "Hannah Montana."