Does everything have to be about sex?
Tarting-up teenage performers, such as
, may be a tempting business strategy, but the practice won't extract a dime from my wallet.
If anything, I plan to rein in future spending on merchandise depicting television characters. Gas is expensive. Food costs are climbing and the economy is sinking. Hannah Montana is certainly one expense that can go.
Photos of Cyrus
, shot for
magazine by famed photographer
, are causing a national stir.
Vanity Fair Leaves Miley Not So Smiley
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Several photos capture the 15-year-old pop star with a sultry look on her face, donning a sheet draped over her front, while her back is completely exposed.
I'm not a puritan -- just the mother of a six-year-old girl. And I don't want to spend my family's money on pop stars who take their tops off -- even halfway.
Leibovitz has reportedly described the photo as a "simple, classic portrait." Well, I'm not buying it, Annie (or this month's
). Miley Cyrus looks partly naked, and the shadows under her eyes could just as well be the remnants of yesterday's mascara. Why must her messy hairstyle convey that just-got-out-of bed look?
The shot of Cyrus lying across the lap of her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, with her mid-section exposed also seems a little too sensual for a father-daughter picture.
It would have been just as easy to capture an artful portrait of Cyrus fully clothed.
I can't fault Cyrus as much as the adults making business decisions on her behalf. Shame on
for using a suggestive photo of a 15-year-old as a sales gimmick to sell magazines.
And why didn't her parents, who were on-site during the photo shoot, have the presence of mind to draw the line? It seems that Miley Cyrus and the Hannah Montana franchise have already extracted a fortune from worldwide fans. But I suppose, in the context of our twisted pop culture, that Cyrus is old enough now to start pushing the sex envelope, so the cash can soon come rolling in from a more mature crowd.
I'm already loath to spend my money on Hannah Montana merchandise and other novelties marketed to kids, because entertainment companies such as Disney want my six-year-old daughter to say "Please, mommy." Now, I have the best reason possible to say "no" -- at least to future Hannah Montana purchases.
Cyrus' apology to her fans and the "embarrassment" she alleges over the photos isn't enough to win me over. It seems that apologies are all that's necessary to keep stars in the limelight to suck up more cash from youthful crowds.
Case in point: the
nudity scandal. Last fall, naked photos of the
star -- another lucrative Disney franchise -- appeared online. Yes, Hudgens is "of age" and can certainly do what she pleases, but perhaps not while she's parading around as the picture of innocence in a television flick that's aggressively marketed to my children.
Hudgens apologized. The storm blew over, and millions of parents -- myself included -- continued to purchase
High School Musical
CDs, DVDs and other merchandise.
In hindsight, Disney could have easily replaced Hudgens with someone who wasn't overtly shacking up or parading around naked -- even privately before a camera in her own hotel room.
In another case,
says it hasn't made any changes to its schedule, even after
, star of its show
, announced that she was pregnant at age 16.
Brat-pack actresses are a dime a dozen, and our kids wouldn't be too traumatized if one or two disappeared.
Teenage stars, it seems, can't escape heading down the path of success that comes with trying to look like a sexy adult. But parents help the trend along when they buy licensed merchandise that celebrates these stars, a practice reaffirming the adage that sex sells.
Unfortunately, the target crowd is getting much younger.
Suzanne Barlyn is a writer in Washington Crossing, Pa.