Miley Update: Parents Weren’t There

Well it appears that Vanity Fair and Leibovitz have been caught in a bold-face lie. Their original claim was that Miley’s parents were present and even saw the photos after they were taken on the set. It seems that is untrue. Apparently Billy Ray and her mom slipped away from the shoot leaving Miley’s grandmother and teacher to supervise her for the rest of the shots. Apparently this is when Leibovitz approached them on the ‘artsy’ photo subject and manipulated them into letting it happen under the guise of ‘art’.

Of course Billy Ray has fired back saying he never approved the pictures nor would he have let them happen had he been there. Apparently he is mortified that his daughter was photographed this way. There is an article about what apparently really happened.

So where does this leave the situation? We’ll have to see. But apparently Disney has ordered Miley to lay-low for 4-6 months while this sorts itself out. So don’t expect to see here anywhere for a while.

My opinion: If indeed Miley’s parents were not there and all this happened as several news sources are now saying, someone needs to be made an example of. Vanity Fair, Leibovitz, whomever. The line needs to be redrawn so society relearns that the sexualization of young girls is immoral. Photos of minors like this are highly inappropriate if not illegal and hiding behind ‘art’ isn’t going to cut it anymore. Quite honestly anyone who was involved in the manipulation of this girl and her guardians into allowing these photos should be held accountable by authorities. Vanity Fair should also be held accountable. While not responsible for taking the photos they had the moral and legal obligation to NOT print them. They chose the low road to sell a few magazines and bank off of Miley’s popularity. Bravo. Such a high culture magazine.

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Pet Peeve: Crushed Foods

This one will be short because I’m a little annoyed. One of my many pet peeves is crushed foods. More specifically crushed foods that aren’t meant to be crushed until you crush them in your mouth. I list my most disappointing crushed foods below and try to identify the source of the crushing.

Exhibit A: My Toast-Chee cracker hobby kit. I love Toast-Chee crackers. Perfect snack for me when I’m at work to take the edge of the tummy grumble. Nothing like tearing off that plastic wrapper and smelling the delicious, processed, cheesy, peanut-buttery goodness. What truly sucks is when you open the pack and they are all broken in tiny pieces so small that they crumble out of the wrapper onto the desk (or your lap when in the car). So small that they are inedible. So frustrating. What really makes it frustrating is that everything looks fine until you open the package. The wrapper was holding everything together. Grrr.

Suspected Crusher(s):

  • Disenfranchised grocery store stock clerks
  • My computer bag
  • Break room vending machines (seriously, why are crackers put on the highest shelf?)
  • Jealous co-workers

But there are other really annoying crushed foods.

Pringles: So fun and salty. Remember making the duck bill with them? My kids love that. You pop off that Tupperware top, pull back the foil and anticipate the stack sliding out granting you one savory chip at a time. Mmm nirvana. But no, you do all the above steps and you tilt the tube over to release the bounty and nothing but shards of Pringles pour into your lap. Argh. Of course this can apply to nearly any chip, but honestly when you by a bag of chips you kind of expect them to be broken most of the time. But not Pringles, you expect the packaging to protect them.

Suspected Crusher(s):

  • Disenfranchised grocery store stock clerks
  • Children who think it is a maraca
  • Jealous co-workers

Oreos: Ok other than my Toast-Chee being crushed this is my second most annoying crushed food. You open the fancy new resealable package and you carefully select the first cookie. You pick it up and one side of the cookie crumbles off the cream filling. This is not too bad if you are not a dunker. However for me (a dunker) this is pure frustration. Mainly because the crushed cookie waits for me to emurse it into a large glass of ice cold milk, then it completely disintegrates and sinks to the bottom of the glass. Then you have to get a spoon or fork and go Oreo fishing. That never works anyway. The cookie is beyond rescue after 5-10 seconds anyway. It just turns to mush. Just deal with the disappointment and move on.

Suspected Crusher(s):

  • Disenfranchised grocery store stock clerks
  • Careless grocery store baggers who put the spaghetti sauce jars on top of the cookies
  • Children who have not been trained in the important skill of Oreo eating
  • Jealous co-workers
  • Jealous spouses who are mad that you ate all of their Double-stuffs the previous week
  • Negligent eaters who set them on the couch and forgot they were there when returning with the ice cold milk

Fast Food: I’m sorry but I’m at about the end of my rope with this one. You see it on TV, you see it on the sign at the drive through, you see it in magazine adds and coupon sheets. That glorious, six inch tall juicy hamburger with all the trimmings. You order your sandwich beastie. You drive up. Pay. Drive off. You get back to your eating destination, unwrap it and prepare to feast. But you notice that your six inch tall meat beastie is a mere 3/4 of an inch tall with a large handprint in the middle. Not only is your burger crushed but so is your spirit. Why is it necessary to flatten a burger like that? No truth in advertising I say.

Suspected Crusher(s):

  • Disenfranchised fast food workers
  • Angry co-workers who lost the rock-paper-scissors gambit on who does the food run today
  • Angry spouses who didn’t like your ‘special order’ requirements

Ok so it wasn’t that short… sue me.

Miley Cyrus: Vanity Fair or Vanity Foul

Art or ExploitationUnless you are living under a rock you’ve heard of the latest Miley Cyrus broo-haha. She posed recently for Vanity Fair magazine with her Dad (Billy Ray Cyrus). The very famous Annie Leibovitz was the photographer.

Leibovitz is renowned for her celebrity photos for Vanity Fair. Demi Moore’s famous pregnant nude comes to mind. If you browse around the blogs and news feeds and read some of the comments from other readers you can see the very wide divide between those that see the photo for what it is and those who are so desensitized by modern culture they lost their clue. Half are shocked and concerned and the rest see it as tame and no big deal. Here’s my opinion on the subject.

First and foremost Miley is 15 years old. In the eyes of the law she is a minor. Now granted there is no overt nudity in the photo, praise God, but still it is a provocative pose which paints her in a very adult light. In my opinion it objectifies and sexualizes her in a very inappropriate manner for someone who can’t even drive a car by herself.

Now I have to say as an artist having taken nearly every art history class possible in college, this is indeed a very classic pose for artists and photographers. However, it is not an appropriate pose for a child of any age. It is meant to be a demure and vulnerable pose. There is a subliminal sexuality to it. It actually has a very adult theme behind it if you do your research.

The biggest problem I have is not really with the photo itself but more with the damage it does to the subject in the photo. Miley is a very vocal Christian. She has on numerous occasions on national television professed her faith and belief in Christ. She claims she wants to be a role model to young girls. She wants to be an example to other young Hollyweird starlets. She’s had recent problems with Internet photos of her being leaked and then comes this photo. Honestly it damages her credibility in a major way. Not only her credibility as a role model but her witness for Christ suffers as well.

Now we’ve all been teenagers and we’ve all done really stupid things we regret. Even as a Christian teen I myself did some REALLY stupid things. But i was never in the public eye and never claimed to be a role model. This is one problem I have with this particular move in her career.

The other problem I have is that with all the adults involved in this photo shoot (including Miley’s parents) no one appears to have stopped and said, “Whoa is this appropriate?”. Apparently not. This just bothers me because our society seems to have become desensitized to the objectification of young girls.

Pop culture has so distorted the perception of what a teenage girl should look and act like that it seems the tween years are completely skipped even though it is a major demographic. Seems girls are escalated from Webkins and Barbies to clubbing and being sexy literally overnight, skipping the awkward tween years where most girls feel awkward about their self-image as it is. They are relentlessly pounded with shopping, fashion, accessories, boys, teen idols, music, etc. Actually it starts even earlier than early teens. The new children’s book where a four-year-old is having her mother’s plastic surgery explained to her is a symptom of this objectification of girls. Being cool is being pretty. Being happy is being pretty. Being popular is being pretty. It’s truly disturbing.

With all that being said, Miley has issued a public apology not only for this photo but last week’s batch of uh-oh pictures. Chalking it up to “bad choices”. I can understand this and I hope it is sincere. We’ll have to wait and see. I like Disney’s press release calling the photo an exploitation of a 15 year old girl to sell magazines. I have to agree with that. While it was still Miley’s choice ultimately, when you are surrounded by adults of Leibovitz’s reputation and critical fame it can be difficult to discern things clearly. Vanity Fair said that Miley and her parents saw the photo right after is was taken and thought it was nice. Of course I doubt they saw the final product and the article to go with it right there on the set. Having done Photoshop retouching and art techniques to photos, I can guarantee that what Miley and her parents saw is not the photo going to print in Vanity Fair.

Of course I’m the parent of two small girls so I may be a tad hyper-sensitive about this. For some reason this whole thing just really bothers me. Maybe it’s because my daughters adore Miley. Maybe it’s because there are no true good role models for girls these days and the single decent one seems to be on the edge of slipping into the mouth of the Hollywood chipper/shredder. Bottom line… it was a bad choice on Miley’s part and her parents for not seeing it for what it was. With everything she claims and professes she truly needs to conduct herself accordingly. Triple-thinking every decision would be a start. Now that she is about to be a billion dollar baby the paprazzi are going to hunt her like sharks with fresh blood in the water. Yes she’s a teenager but she’s no longer a typical teenager and teenage antics will only play with her fans for so long.

I truly hope that this is the end of her ‘oops’ moments. The world is full of skanks, tramps and drug addicts. We don’t need another failure for our kids.

But then again… maybe it’s just me?

Why is it? #1: Watch Photography

Why is it the vast majority of watches photographed have the hands positioned somewhere between 10:08 and 10:10? There are some deviations from this form but it is pretty rare. If you do a Google image search for watches and look through the results you will see what I mean. Nearly every picture the hands are at 10:08, 10:09 or 10:10. Chronographs, standard date window, Mickey Mouse, Swatch, whatever. The hands are at the same position usually. Is there some secret meaning behind it? is that when some cosmic event happened? Did the Earth begin at 10:08? No that can’t be. The Earth was formed at 11:11 (but that is another post).

The Infamous Audio Ambush

Now don’t get me wrong… I’m all for free expression and all that. I know people love music. I know people love to share their favorite music. I know that with Web 2.o people want to share their music with the WORLD! That’s all good. I’m all for it. Sign me up!

— BUT —

I have a pet peeve about embedded playlists and music on web pages and blogs, etc. My peeve is about auto-play. I really dislike when a page loads and some speed metal song starts blaring out of my speakers. I’m ambushed and the heart-spasmic panic is just too annoying.

Here’s the problem:

  1. MP3’s are at variable volumes and bit rates. This translates as some MP3’s are soft, some normal, some are on air-siren levels. Also translate this as some sound full, rich and clear. Some sound like an old 1920’s crooner singing ‘Paper Moon’ through an old cheerleader megaphone because amplifiers weren’t invented yet. So, one page I have to turn up my speakers just to hear the song. I do and it was fun but I move on. I surf a bit then go to check a new blog. Suddenly Pantera blares out my computer and scares the living (insert body fluid) out of me.
  2. Most embedded music players are in different spots. This has two problems: One how do I turn off the music and where is the volume control. In the example in #1, I get thrown into panic mode because I have death metal screaming at me and I have no way of turning it off! This panic of course just forces me to turn off my speakers until I can find the music control. After I do I can then pause the song or turn down the player’s volume. But then I have to go through the regime of setting my speakers back to the volume I liked them at.
  3. Some music is inappropriate for little ones. I would appreciate the chance to scan a playlist before Amy Winehouse’s rehab song starts blaring and I have to explain to my 7 year-old son what rehab is.

Now all this being said the fix is simple. If you add a playlist to your site, blog, myspace, facebook, etc. Just remember that other people visit your page at times and it’s just good netiquette to let them control whether they want to hear your Culture Club mix or not. If they want to hear it they will click the play button. But sharing doesn’t mean shoving it down someone’s throat.

Of course all this comes from a web designer/developer’s point of view and is strictly my opinion. Of course if you want to try out my theory, go to my SongSpot widget in the right column and click until you get to the Dream Quest song. Slide the volume up all the way and click play. Imagine that at 11pm hitting you in the face when you least expect it. Shock and awe baby!

The Value of a Handycam

Most people have a handycam nowadays. Problem is they keep them in a bag in the closet and only bring them out at holidays or special events. Currently I am one of those but also I’m so afraid that the kids will get their hands on it and break it. Me personally I would like to keep mine out and ‘handy’ for those once-in-a-lifetime moments that happen when you are a parent of small children.

Case in point…

Last night we were watching the CMT awards. We sent Amanda off to take her bath. Now remember she’s the singer/actress of the three kids. She sings constantly and she’s always mugging in a mirror. So we are watching Miley and Billy Ray do their host thing and we hear this little song in the bathroom. We couldn’t make it out. Sierra promptly told us it was ‘The Hokey Pokey’. We muted the TV and listened. Sure enough it was indeed the Hokey Pokey. Amanda was just putting random body parts in, body parts out and shaking them all about.

Luckily the handycam was indeed handy and I grabbed it to capture it before she got down to her toes. I positioned myself by the door and began taping. She was only half visible because of the shower curtain, but it was enough to be too funny. I got the elbows and shoulders taped before she saw me and let out an emphatic “Daddy!” then hid behind the curtain. Needless to say it was hysterical. The camera battery died just a few minutes later.

I guess this just shows that if you have a handycam and small kids you should keep it out or in a spot that is easily reached for those fleeting moments of joy around the house.

I’ll post the clip somewhere if I can.