When I read the New York Times article late Sunday night about Disney star Miley Cyrus revealing Annie Lebowitz photos, I thought uh oh, and immediately went to the Vanity Fair website to click through the 18-photo spread and read the article.
In this day and age of Lindsey Lohan's drug problems, Britney's psychiatric diagnoses, and her 16 year old sister pregnant, this is really small potatoes.
So I was surprised that parents were calling for bonfires of Hannah Montana merchandise and bloggers were suggesting that Disney's billion dollar brand was at risk. The female lead of Disney's High School Musical franchise had NUDE pictures of her posted online, and that brand continues to march on.
The irony of this controversy--and the reason why I think Cyrus and Disney will emerge unscathed--is that the whole article is about how squeaky clean and grounded she is compared to her counterparts. The reporter even asks her whether Lebowitz's provocative shot made her uncomfortable, and she makes it entirely clear that this was the photographer's idea and not hers.
Saying, "That's what she wanted me to do and you can't say no to Annie. She's so cute, she gets this puppy dog look and you're like okay." Well, okay, that sounds to me like one of the most well-regarded photographers convinced a 15 year old to strike a sexy pose. Does it help her transition to a more sophisticated image? Sure. Is Disney annoyed? Sure.
Will all this buzz hurt the Hannah Montana brand? I doubt it. It'll likely boost the show's ratings this week. I think it all really hinges on how Cyrus handles it from here on out. Over the past couple months provocative pictures of Cyrus have surfaced on the internet: her sharing what looks like a Twizzler with a female friend, and just this week pictures, of her showing off a bright green bra.
She's apologized to her fans, and this time around has said she's embarrassed by these pics. If she goes the way of Lindsay Lohan or Jamie Lynn Spears then yeah, she could be in real trouble. If she returns to her squeaky clean ways, then within a few weeks the blogosphere will have forgotten about this scandal and moved on to the next teen celebrity "scandal."
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