Why It's Annie Leibovitz's Fault

Hamilton Nolan · 04/28/08 01:01PM

Annie Leibovitz: come off it. Really now. As dirty as the media business is—and particularly the celebrity media business, which Vanity Fair revels in under a sheen of high class pretension—there are some bare, bottom-level standards to which we all must adhere. One of those is, "Do not sexually exploit minors." You want to economically exploit a minor? Fine. That's a grand American tradition. But trotting out 15 year-old Miley Cyrus with pouty lips, tousled hair, and only a bedsheet is just bad. Bad! Of course Vanity Fair bears the responsibility for publishing it. But the idea for the shoot can be traced to the tired celeb photographer Leibovitz (who is sorry it's been "misinterpreted"). And her narrow, robotically transgressive act has now played itself out. This incident, and Leibovitz's entire style, is less shocking than it is boring—but with a 15-year-old involved, it's boring and creepy.