there is nude and there is naked.

And then there’s exploitation, which is the word I automatically associate with anything Terry Richardson does nowadays.

In the first place, dude, you’re not half as good at capturing Ms Cyrus in the buff as Annie Leibovitz. Sure, Miley was fifteen when Leibovitz shot her, but Leibovitz is a professional. Miley’s family was there. Everyone but the subject was fully dressed, and having seen the portrait, you can’t see any more of her than she’d show in a backless gown.

I think Sinead O’Connor has the right to facepalm and say “Jesus, that is NOT WHAT I MEANT BY THAT VIDEO.”

I think Miley’s doing exactly as she pleases, and I don’t have the right to tell her not to do it, but I can say that I wouldn’t want my face (or my nethers) associated with Richardson or Robin Thicke. I would not want that to be the world’s perception of me. Perhaps I am less inclined to trade on my sexuality than she is. Perhaps I went through the Lolita phase and learned how respect really happens. The Terry Richardsons in my life didn’t respect me a damn bit, and believe it or not, I had something when I was Miley’s age. It was a gamine something, loose-limbed and vulgar, skinny and insouciant, with a dare in my eyes. I didn’t know that using it could bring me pain.

“Animals”. Animals operate on instincts they don’t consciously understand. I think the word is predators, not animals. Because it’s one thing to explore your sexuality. It’s another to have that exploration taken and twisted and put on display. Choosing to work with a man who is infamous for his casting-couch approach to what is otherwise a legitimate art says a lot about who’s really in charge and what’s driving the choice. There are better photographers; there are few more notorious.

Did I not say that loud enough? There are better photographers.

So was it a style choice? But any student with a big… lens… and enough flash could do the same. Only that student wouldn’t have the clout to get the photographs circulated in just the right way. But others in the business can.

There are better-connected photographers. There are photographers with a work ethic that excludes ejaculating all over the subject (not that a pop star would have to put up with such behavior, only young models who don’t dare say boo lest they be blacklisted).

There are better ways to have a career. Ultimately I’m disenchanted by this pop porn sensibility. I hated it when it was “Girls Gone Wild” and spring break and I hate it now. Someone else is profiting from Miley’s sexuality, someone who damn well doesn’t have her best interests in mind, and if she’s cool with that, nobody’s going to stop her. Tomorrow, next year, five years on, she’s the one who has to look at herself in the mirror.

If I had made different decisions at her age, I don’t think I’d like myself much today. That’s all.


2 thoughts on “there is nude and there is naked.

  1. Ugh, THANK YOU. I’m not going to say anything about Miley– she can do what she wants with herself. I think her lack of self-awareness bothers me more than her sexuality.

    But I don’t understand what Uncle Terry’s appeal is. Bright flash, white background, the occasional redeye? I mean, he has a style to be sure, and I guess branding is as important as technique (ugh I hate saying that). But I could do that, and as an aspiring photographer it annoys me that he gets so much recognition for…..???

    Although if you look at his portfolio, his non-celebrity B&Ws are much better. I would respect him more if he got recognition for THOSE photos, and not the exploitative, overexposed (in every sense of the word) sleaze he produces in the studio.

    • You mean he has a vestige of talent? Honestly, his antics and his celebrity work cover that all up so he’s, y’know, hardly recognisable as human any longer.

      Damnit, now is NOT THE TIME to wish Terry Richardson were redeemable.

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