As an avid fan of Southern bumpkin sayings, prepubescent humor and all things trite and tacky, it only makes sense that I was, embarrassingly, a big fan of that Disney TV show “Hannah Montana” up until the way-too-recent past. The show, quite simply, accomplished what all television should: It entertained me while I was watching, and it made me feel good.
But the last remnants of my inner child finally up and left me when those spicy pictures of Miley Cyrus splattered across the Internet. Or maybe it was when Hugh Hefner — without a trace of irony — offered her a spot in Playboy pending her 18th birthday. Yet, everyone deserves a second — or a seventh, or an eighth — chance, right?
A few months ago, she faced the ire of suburban moms over her topless photos for Vanity Fair, in which she was shot clutching a bed sheet to her chest. Using classic 15-year-old logic, the girl blathered something about how the photos weren’t meant in a “skanky way,” despite her tussled bedhead and smeared red lipstick. She also explained patiently that you “can’t say no” to the photographer, which kind of makes the photo shoot sound like a sexual assault (just one in which her grandmother and country-singing father Billy Ray Cyrus gave nods of approval from the sidelines).
And then there’s the handfuls of other Hustler-worthy shots that have probably been saved to thousands of teen boys’ desktops across the world. These photos showcase, most notably, a wifebeater-sporting Miley getting wet in the shower, and Miley flashing a lacy green bra. Oh, and did I forget to mention Miley sharing a piece of candy mouth-to-mouth with her bestest girlfriend?
The point is, as the overused saying goes, people should learn from their mistakes — and it’s clear from the evidence (e.g. the myriad of panty-clad Miley pictures that Google pulls up) that Cyrus hasn’t learned squat. That is, assuming we expected her to learn more than what Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan and other catastrophically screwed-up ex-Disney A-listers sponged from their similar dramas: that scandal is just another word for attention.
We’ve seen it all before, too. Earlier this year, Jamie-Lynn Spears of Disney’s “Zoey 101” had a baby at the age of 16. (To put this in perspective, remember that at age 18 I’m still watching “Hannah Montana.”) In late 2007, “High School Musical” star Vanessa Hudgens gave the world a full-frontal show on the Internet. And then there’s Lohan, a one-woman carnival of self-destructiveness.
Amazingly, the Disney industry, a supposed champion of wholesome, G-rated fun for kids somewhere around the ages of six to 14, defended these stars. When Cyrus was struggling with criticisms over her Vanity Fair photos, a Disney spokeswoman insisted that the publication took advantage of the girl in order to — horror of horrors — sell magazines. An interesting concept, as it forces people to think about how much Cyrus must make for Disney itself (hint: an expected $1 billion just in merchandise in the next year).
Not one of these girls was booted off a show or movie at the time of their scandals, and it seems unlikely that they even got a slap on the wrist — or even the warning of one. But I mean, in all fairness, what would “Hannah Montana” be without that Tennessee-hailin’ Destiny Hope Cyrus? It’s been years since Disney’s developed this habit of lining up and churning out less-than-angelic stars, and I’ve yet to see a single statement from the multibillion dollar conglomerate condemning the behavior any of these supposed role models. Thus one is forced to think that the Big Mouse is at least perpetuating this phenomenon, if not creating it entirely.
The only thing that gives me the creeps more than the people who are hunting for those pictures of Miley on the Internet is the idea that little tots as young as 4 and 5 turn to these brainwashed starlets and see sisterly role models.
It’s funny; I never thought that everyone’s favorite mouse with those trademark big ears would end up having so much in common with a bunny. As Hannah Montana might put it, “Money-starved multibillion-dollar franchise, say whaaat?”