Although some may say there is no such thing as bad publicity, tween idol Miley Cyrus may disagree.
In the past few weeks, Cyrus has gone from having a “squeaky-clean” reputation and the full support of parents to finding herself in the midst of a controversy involving a number of provocative pictures on the Internet as well as a “racy” photograph taken by Vanity Fair.
In some of the photographs circulating on the Web, the 15-year-old singer/actress appears with then-boyfriend showing her midriff and in others exposing a green bra to the camera.
The Vanity Fair edition in question has yet to be released, but photographs are already up on the Web. A spokesperson for the magazine said Cyrus had family with her all during the photo shoot who had all seen and approved the digital version of the photograph. However, a Disney representative accused Vanity Fair of deliberately creating a situation to manipulate a 15-year-old.
On Sunday, April 27, the Disney “Hannah Montana” star issued an exclusive statement to PEOPLE apologizing for a series of photographs circulating on the Internet as well as for the Vanity Fair shoot.
“My goal in my music and my acting is always to make people happy. For Vanity Fair, I was so honored and thrilled to work with Annie [Leibovitz]. I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,” Cyrus said.
Prior to the magazine controversy, Cyrus was already getting complaints and commentary from parents and the conservative TV host Bill O’Reilly about the photos on the Web.
In the statement issued Sunday, she also went on to say that she was sorry for taking the other photos and appreciates the support she has gotten from her fans.
“The pictures of me on the Internet were silly, inappropriate shots. I appreciate all the support of my fans, and hope they understand that along the way I am going to make mistakes and I am not perfect. I never intended for any of this to happen and I am truly sorry if I have disappointed anyone.”
With her transition from young teen sensation to a young woman, many critics have drawn parallels to Britney Spears and urge her parents to make sure she doesn’t go down the same path, according to a CNN article.
However, other critics have wondered if this is just a ploy to see past her current market into the future and start looking to transition away from the pre-school children audience to capture a niche with the older crowd.
While I think the photos could be a step toward making inroads with an older group, I don’t think Cyrus has enough to gain at her present state that she would risk alienating her current multi-million dollar market.
From a PR perspective, Cyrus made the best decision possible in appealing to her fans’ and critics’ sympathy and directly addressing her mistake and apologizing for it. In her statement, Cyrus appeared sincere and honest, which makes it much easier for fans and parents to oversee her misjudgment.
While the Vanity Fair shoot was not that controversial alone, unfortunately for Cyrus it happened only days after news of her other images surfaced. I actually find the Vanity Fair situation understandable and easier to overlook than the other photos. I do not see how anyone, much less an actress with the number 1 cable show for children, could take provocative photos of herself and put them online for the world to see. My advice for Cyrus and other people in the media spotlight: Enjoy time with your significant other if that is your decision, but don’t document it with photos and post them online for all the parents of your 5-year-old fans to see. Have a little common sense.
Given what has happened, I think Cyrus has handled the situation well. I think if she avoids other scandals in the near future, her reputation will recover and she will be able to stay in parents’ good graces.