Teen star's photos revealing in more ways than one - Jason A. Smith

It was only a matter of time.

With all the attention teenage sensation Miley Cyrus has been getting lately, I knew it would not be long before the "Hannah Montana" star wound up making headlines for something bad.

Popular people seem to have a knack for getting themselves into circumstances that are less than desirable, and it seems Cyrus is the newest example of this.

In this case, "Vanity Fair" recently published pictures taken by photographer Annie Liebovitz, of the scantily-clad daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, complete with suggestive poses.

Since the story hit the airwaves earlier this week, Miley Cyrus has been engaged in damage control, apologizing to her legions of young fans and saying she is embarrassed by the pictures.

As often happens in these situations, another by-product of the "Vanity Fair" story is the coverage of the issue in cable talk shows. Many times, these types of stories take center stage in the media when they break.

For example, as I was flipping through channels Monday night, the two most prevalent stories being talked about were a recent speech by Sen. Barack Obama's former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and the Miley Cyrus debacle.

Responses this week to the Cyrus photos have varied. Some have said the teen star should have known better than to expect anything other than the more risque photos taken during her shoot, being published. Others have cast blame on Miley's parents, saying they never should have let her do such a shoot in the first place.

I won't argue with either point in the least.

Still, one cable-show pundit, whose name I never caught, said something interesting in an interview about the Cyrus photos. In his answer to the interviewer's first question, he said Miley Cyrus' career will likely not take a long-term hit because of the pictures.

I thought about that statement as I continued searching for something else to watch, and I was a bit bothered by it, for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, I was saddened, because it is quite possible he is right, and that the photos will propel Cyrus into another level of stardom.

But the main reason I was struck by the man's statement, is what it implies about us as a society. A 15-year-old girl, seen as a role model by many a little girl, poses in a nearly-nude photo shoot for all the world to see, and our first question is how it affects her career?

It seems to me that there's enough blame, in this situation, to go around in a lot of different directions.

Miley Cyrus should not have posed for the pictures.

Billy Ray Cyrus should not have let her agree to the shoot.

Annie Liebovitz should not have taken the pictures.

The mainstream media's obsession with celebrity failures cannot be ignored, either.

These are all no-brainers, in my opinion.

But, when the primary concern of an interviewer centers on Cyrus' career and not her as a person, that is just as disturbingly revealing as the photos she took.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161, or via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.