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Maturing Downward: Christians in Vanity Fair

Remember: the soon-to-be billion dollar actress of the Hannah Montana character is Christian. (I wrote about her only a few weeks ago in a post entitled A Dad Ponders the Hannah Montana Cult.) And so are her parents. This week Miley Ray Cyrus is in the news for a semi-nude portrait of her that is making the front cover of Vanity Fair.At first the word from the fifteen-year-old was that she had no idea the portrait was that provocative. Then the photographer rebutted saying that both she and her parents approved of all the shots. The parents are now saying they had already left the scene when the controversial pose was struck.


I am actually among the not-so-offended crowd, but I have nothing to be offended by. I haven’t let my daughter idolize the poor girl. And I don’t mean poor girl sarcastically. The child is, in my mind, the victim of parents who have decided to live in Bunyan’s Vanity Fair. How ironic that the first major flap of their multi-millionaire child would be about their child’s portrait on a magazine that shares the name of Bunyan’s metaphor for the world.

Poor Miley Ray Cyrus. She was quoted in Christianity Today not so long ago for saying that everything that she does is for Jesus. Everything. I wonder if that includes being on the front cover for Vanity Fair.

She is just a child. One shouldn’t be too harsh on her. But what about her parents? Are they going to write a book on parenting just as Lynn Spears, mother of Britney has done? It’s been delayed. Even for Christians in Vanity Fair it seems a bit odd to publish a book on parenting when one daughter is flinging her life away to booze and drugs and the other is pregnant at sixteen. But the delay is only indefinite. I’m sure parents everywhere are eager to get some tips. Thomas Nelson once again provides great reading for Christians in Vanity Fair.

Now, I personally think the flap was a bit over the top. It’s all about money. Disney is upset, of course. Disney thinks Vanity Fair manipulated a fifteen year old child. Disney may sense that the media’s shark-like frenzy about this story is more motivated by the base human pleasure of seeing people topple; in this case, not just Disney’s money-making machine, but an popular icon with “clean.” The Christian Cyrus family should be encouraged that they have support from Rosie O’Donnell. Rosie thinks that Disney is making her apologize. And Rosie is probably right. (Rosie also thinks that the pictures are beautiful. And, well, if you know Rosie, that is creepy.) But Rosie may be right to imply that Disney is manipulating an apology out of the child.

Vanity Fair (Bunyan’s and the Mag) both mature its victims downward. And Miley Cyrus is a victim. Her parents have built a home right on main street Vanity Fair and now they’re scratching their heads wondering how in the world it ever happened that as soon as they walked away from the photo-shoot their daughter got tricked into a semi-nude pose. John Bunyan wrote of French Row, and British Row, and Italian Row when he described the streets of Vanity Fair. He didn’t know anything about Hollywood Row. That’s where the Cyrus family lives.

But at some point tough questions have to be asked. If Bunyan is right that every pilgrim on his way to the Celestial City has to pass through Vanity Fair, is he not also right that true pilgrims are easily identifiable?

Now these pilgrims, as I said, must needs go through this fair. Well, so they did: but, behold, even as they entered into the fair, all the people in the fair were moved, and the town itself as it were in a hubbub about them; and that for several reasons: for–

First, The pilgrims were clothed with such kind of raiment as was diverse from the raiment of any that traded in that fair. The people, therefore, of the fair, made a great gazing upon them: some said they were fools, some they were bedlams, and some they are outlandish men.

Secondly, And as they wondered at their apparel, so they did likewise at their speech; for few could understand what they said; they naturally spoke the language of Canaan, but they that kept the fair were the men of this world; so that, from one end of the fair to the other, they seemed barbarians each to the other.

Thirdly, But that which did not a little amuse the merchandisers was, that these pilgrims set very light by all their wares; they cared not so much as to look upon them; and if they called upon them to buy, they would put their fingers in their ears, and cry, Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and look upwards, signifying that their trade and traffic was in heaven.

By posing for Vanity Fair the mag one wonders if the Christian Cyrus family is like the Bunyan Christians. They don’t seem to “set lightly by all [the] wares” of Vanity Fair and Hollywood Row. And their child gets played; by Disney, Vanity Fair the mag, and, worst of all, Bunyan’s Vanity Fair.

One more reason why I don’t want my daughter flocking after child stars. I don’t want to contribute to the ruin of the child star.

Hannah Montana is maturing. If she stays in (or on) Vanity Fair she’ll mature downward. That’s what Vanity Fair does to everybody.


2 Responses

  1. What a sad irony.

  2. Adding to the problem- not just a negligent, but complicit father.

    From Newsweek:

    Let’s take Miley off the barbecue for this saucy satin-sheet Vanity Fair photo that’s causing all the noise right now and move on to what I, anyway, think is a far more disturbing shot in the spread: the one of Big Daddy, Billy Ray Cyrus, and his daughter Miley. Like a Disney wish sprung straight from Cinderella’s castle, Miley lies in all her precocious glory across her beefcake father’s lap. His sleeveless right arm drapes protectively (suggestively?) around her right shoulder and reaches down to hold her hand. A hipbone pokes out below her bare midriff, and Billy Ray’s Harlequin-like hair ripples out after him. The schism is immediate: they are father and daughter, yet they look like lovers … but they’re father and daughter. I have been a 15-year-old daughter, and I can tell you with reinforced steel-studded certainty, there is no way I would ever pose in such a manner for a photograph (and in the age-appropriate parlance, let me just say, “Ick”)—unless someone was paying me a billion dollars.

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