Miley Cyrus has been stealing the headlines lately from all the Hollywood’s go-to controversial tabloid cover stars. Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and even Lady Gaga can’t get the press coverage that Miley Cyrus has been able to generate with her new image. Miley Cyrus first stepped into the stoplight in 2006 with her Disney Channel Show, “Hannah Montana” and soon shook off her little kid image by revealing a short and edgy hairstyle in early 2013. She would soon start making even more headlines with her new single, “We Can’t Stop”, which discussed drug use and included a music video with her ‘twerking’. Her controversial image came to a boiling point with her MTV VMA performance in August which was soon followed by another single with music videos shot by New York fashion photographer, Terry Richardson.
After all of this publicity and public interest, you’d think that every magazine would be vying to have her in an editorial or cover story, but one magazine in particular has made it clear that they are not interested. Anna Wintour, who admitted pre-VMA performance, that she loved Miley’s aesthetic and status as a rising fashion icon, has decided not to use Miley Cyrus for Vogue Magazine’s December 2013 cover, as was previously planned. No reason has been officially given, but it is clear that the fashion editor did not appreciate the “We Can’t Stop/Blurred Lines” performance on the VMAs.
While I can certainly understand why the 63 year old fashion head did not appreciate a highly sexualized performance of a young pop starlet, I was shocked that she would be so idealistic when choosing her celebrity cover model. Fashion has always been plagued with immoral practices and participants. From the emaciated 15-year-old runway models to the anti-Semitic remarks made by Galliano, the fashion industry has never had a great moral reputation. Vogue Magazine under Anna Wintour’s reign has undergone a huge transformation with the inclusion and celebration of celebrity culture. Instead of rising supermodels on the cover, American Vogue’s cover always consists of a celebrity outside of the fashion industry. The editor in chief realized the selling power of including a famous face on the cover and revitalized the iconic fashion magazine. So, you would think that she would be ecstatic about including such a high profile celeb on her cover to boost the lacking sales of the Conde Nast publication. As polarizing as the “Wrecking Ball” star is, it’s a dream opportunity for a magazine. People who hate her will be sure to buy a copy to pick apart the photo shoot and interview, while her die-hard fans will be sure to buy it in support of the celebrity.
The argument has been brought up that Vogue has a ‘reputation to uphold’, which I quite honestly find hilarious. Vogue Magazine has been in hot water before for their 2008 cover with Lebron James in an ape-like pose while a Gisele Bundchen clings delicately to his side. Many felt the cover was racially insensitive and perpetuated the racial stereotype of the ‘dangerous black man’. At the very least, this was such a missed opportunity as this was the first Vogue Magazine cover to feature an African American male and instead of showing Lebron as a fashionable celebrity it chose to show an image that generated such negative feelings.
Even more recently, Vogue Magazine was again ensnared in a huge brouhaha for its February 2013 photo spread, “Storm Troupers”. Intended to honor New York City’s first responders during Hurricane Sandy, the story behind the fashion editorial sounds noble at first but unfortunately, its execution was lacking. Instead of featuring supermodels Joan Smalls, Arizona Muse, Liu Wen and Karlie Kloss helping those suffering from the devastation of the storm, the fashion editorial featured the models wearing thousand dollar couture gowns in some of the most hard hit areas from the hurricane; a cruel slap in the face to those who were left destitute by Hurricane Sandy. It is also worth mentioning that not one cent of the magazine’s sales went to help any of the charities assisting victims of the storm. This failed editorial shows a pattern of Vogue having a great opportunity and intensions yet bungling its delivery.
To return to original topic of this story, what angers me most about the axing of Miley Cyrus’s December Vogue cover is that it’s done under the guise of the magazine having moral high ground which has clearly been disproved. While it is unclear whether Wintour objects to the sexual nature of the performance or its alleged racist use of African-American dancers, it still seems ridiculous. Either the publication can choose to have the highest standards for its covers and not include themes or celebrities that are politically incorrect, or, they can be open about the fact that they bank on controversy as their company measures success by number of units sold. Perhaps, Vogue plans on the axing of the Miley Cyrus cover to generate more buzz for the publication. Only time will tell, but I am most interested in seeing whom the magazine picks for its December cover.
Having a controversial person/or group in the limelight starts conversations about problems in our society that are brought up by their words or actions. If we react strongly (both positively or negatively) to something, it shows that it is knocking a deep rooted belief in our culture and personal beliefs. While I don’t feel that Miley Cyrus is profound performance artist, I do appreciate the amount of conversations that have been generated because of her. Whether she intended to create those conversations or not, I generally prefer performers like her compared to super wholesome, ever polite singers who never rock the boat. Consider this, what conversations does the name Taylor Swift create? More than likely, it’s going to be something about who she’s currently dating.
The bottom line is, whether or not Vogue applauds the swirl of chaos that now surrounds the ex-Disney star, they missed an opportunity to write a meaningful reflection about sexuality and racial stereotypes in music and fashion. Fashion designers and other members of the fashion industry are important contributors to culture and to hear their take on this whole issue would be very interesting to many readers. Instead, we will probably being seeing an article about how to mask unwanted tummy fat with the newest fashions for fall. C’est la vie for world of fashion magazines. Perhaps, Vogue Magazine will deliver on all this and more for their buzzed about December issue, I certainly hope so and look forward to seeing the issue in stores.