Culturespill » Miley Cyrus

Special Feature: Rescuing Annie Leibovitz

29th April

by Sara Mrozinski


I don’t want to be the last one caught beating a dead horse, but much remains to be said about the latest Miley Cyrus photo debacle. For those of you who have been living in a media-free hole over the past week (lucky you), one of our most loathed “Plastic Wannabes” Miley Cyrus was recently immortalized by the famed Annie Leibovitz. While I acknowledge that Annie Leibovitz herself has recently become a media mogul of sorts due to her rising popularity among the stars, she remains, without question, the most talented female photographer of our time.

An opportunity not even the densest of airheads would turn down, Miley not only gratefully took the offer to be shot by Leibovitz, but also helped create the shot itself. As seen in footage from the shoot, Miley’s parents and family attended the shoot and agreed on the shots before they were submitted to Vanity Fair. Shortly after the shoot took place Miley was quoted saying “I think it’s really artsy. It wasn’t in a skanky way. Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought that was really cool.” The question is, what happened between the shoot and press time to cause Miley and her family to completely reject the photos?

Bored conservatives happened. It never occurred to Miley how the mothers and fathers of her major demographic of fans would perceive the photos. This is a group of people so desensitized by the media and dangerous ideologies that openness toward art would never be a possibility. It is no surprise that their responses include degrading statements to Miley’s image and Leibovit’s artistic ability. It is a surprise, however, to read the endless barrage of insults thrown Leibovit’s way from the media. TimesOnline contributor Janice Turner wrote that Leibovitz employed “the trick dirty-old-men artists have employed to seduce vulnerable girls through the ages: she persuaded Miley that the pictures were “artistic”. Artistic? Eew! Is it contagious?


To imply that Annie Leibovitz is some back-alley vaudevillian snapshot pedophilic hustler is grounds for decapitation. It is certain that Leibovitz is in no short supply for money or fame, but is it to be assumed that her shot of Miley Cyrus was deceptively concocted to snatch a dirty pic of the most popular teen in America for unclean reasons? Even more doubtful. Being a photographer myself, I have encountered similar situations with absolutely-not-famous people a few times. It is common to shoot people who are most themselves in front of the lens, but demand removal of shots after the fact when the reaction of others comes into play. It is hard for people to allow their innermost being to be displayed for others to see willingly.

But the act of demanding retraction of harmless photos shows low self-esteem and immaturity at its most volatile level. This is clear in Miley’s reaction, and it’s hers that matters most: “I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

What she really never intended to happen was to lose money or to be threatened by Disney to lose her brain-draining show, and that is what she deeply cares about. Most disturbingly, her reaction shows her age. Miley is a 15 year old with more money and power than all ofmiddle America combined. Will Miley Cyrus’s sheepish immaturity and her culturally-bubbled right-winging posse finally tarnish America’s most beloved photographer’s reputation? Probably not, but it is certain this “dead horse” won’t be laid to rest until every visionless conservative tool has had their say.

Loo Mouths: How London’s Women are Saving our American souls, one Dirty Word at a Time.

6th April

by Sara Mrozinski

As of late, the various screens from which I gather the flowers of pop culture for my hatred-filled vase of a hard drive have been producing nothing but weeds. No, not the TV show Weeds, which I am shamelessly addicted to. I mean talentless debutants that seem to multiply exponentially by the day. What once began with a single pompous heiress, bored with daddy’s money and confident in technology’s capacity to perfect a hollow, atonal voice, has now spawned an army of plastic wannabees.

We know you’re out there talented American female vocalists, but because the radio waves, air waves, and even brainwaves of our country have been taken hostage by a conglomerate of corporate titans, your voice may never be heard beyond the screen door of that diner in Nebraska where you’ve been serving fatty breakfast foods since the age of 15. The bottom line is this: Current American flavor leaves much to be desired. In a country where talent is not a necessary ingredient and fame precedes worth, it is no wonder that the majority of our “female soloists” enjoy the company of headset mics, sequins, prerecorded tracks, and merch up the ying.

Miley in Plastic

Plastic Wannabe

Strangest of all is the fact that London doesn’t seem to be experiencing the same plague. Over the past few years London has presented us with a veritable buffet of hearty female singers/songwriters. We’re all too familiar with our rehab-rejecting Jewish sister who took home the Grammy for album of the year this year, but what about her amigas?

20 year old Kate Nash from–you guessed it–London, drew high acclaim in her home town and won best British female solo artist at the BRIT Awards. Her content can certainly be compared to Lily Allen (another fabulous Londoner) tossed with a smooth voice that at times can sound so desperate that your chest feels as if every bone in it will simultaneously crack if you don’t “stop being a dickhead” (“Dickhead,” Made of Bricks, 2007).

Mathangi Arulpragasam, or M.I.A., is your go-to-girl for a mix of hip-hop, reggae, and the downright weird. Her song “Paper Planes,” which hit number 1 in US dance sales in 2007, features rhyming about hustlin’, pirate skulls, and pre-paid wireless . . . what? Her most recent album Kala, named for her mother, also features a cover of the chorus from the Pixies song “Where is My Mind” on the track titled “20 Dollar”.

The Pixies, “Where is My Mind”

Saucy soulster, Kanye pal, and possibly the most promising of this bunch is Estelle. Her second album Shine came out March 31 and features figures like Will.I.Am., Kanye West, Cee-lo (from Gnarls Barkley), and John Legend. Lyrics like, “wrap it up, cause’ I ain’t carrying your embryo,” bounce off a throwback beat chock-full of Motown flavor (“Wait a Minute,” Shine, 2008).

What do all these women (Amy Winehouse, Kate Nash, Lilly Allen, M.I.A., and Estelle) have in common? Their music is a linguist’s playground, crammed with innuendo and dirty, dirty curse words. Here are some tasty morsels for your enjoyment:

Amy Winehouse, “Addicted”: Tell your boyfriend next time he around, to buy his own weed and don’t wear my shit down… It’s got me addicted, does more than any dick did”

Kate Nash, “Dickhead”: “Stop being a dickhead, why are you being a dickhead for? You’re just fucking up situations.”

And, pretty much everything from “Not Big” by Lily Allen.


Lily Allen

Excitingly, words culturally defined as “taboo” have become ammunition against the injustices of, well, shitty music. These women utilize what was once sinful sailor-speak to create something empowering. They do this while singing about global injustices, political strife, addiction, and all-around crappy people. What this means is that feminism is not dead and commercialism can stifle only so much before opposition pops up, even if it has been displaced. So, if you find yourself with the Lindsay-Miley-Britney Flu, take two headphones and administer through the ear Amy, Kate, Lilly, Estelle, and Mathangi. Bra-burning is optional.