Photographers' Blog

The marketing of Miley

August 27, 2013

New York City, New York

By Lucas Jackson

Does anyone remember what happened during the MTV Video Music Awards in 2012? How about 2011? I would wager that the last thing you remember from any MTV video related anything would be when Kanye West walked up and snagged the microphone away from poor Taylor Swift in 2009.

Guess what, someone was counting on that this year. I haven’t a clue who, it might be MTV or Robin Thicke or most likely Miley Cyrus but someone was counting on creating one of these exciting “moments” for people to talk about the next day and boy did they hit the ball out of the park. I cover a fair amount of live music. I am not a concert photographer and I don’t go to every music festival but I cover enough to know when I see a performer putting on a good show. Lady Gaga almost always does it, she has the theatrics down.

A lot of groups who use large stage set-ups know that the show itself can be as important as the music but it would appear that the world is yet to catch up to the genius that is Miley Cyrus.

Sure it was risque but take a look at Robin Thicke’s original video from the song, Miley Cyrus’ video for her song, and finally Robin Thicke’s video for his new song that was just published and ask yourself if all of this isn’t just clever marketing?

I was in the room with my long lens waiting for something to happen and although Gaga’s performance was artistic and interesting due to the deeper meaning (starting with a blank canvas and moving through several iterations until she was standing before the audience in shells) it was not something that made for a ‘signature’ moment.

Miley provided that. As soon as I saw it I shipped the disk containing the image back to my editors in order to get that out because it was a signature moment designed to titillate and cause buzz. It was obvious, and it worked.

The VMAs are awards for the music videos that the network doesn’t even play anymore so they have to make them interesting and the mission was accomplished. I was glad that it happened early in the show so that the pictures could make it to print. There is a certain glee in knowing that you have clear and sharp photographs of the evening’s signature moment but to think that it was any more than a marketing ploy for all involved is playing right into the evil genius of the whole thing.

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