Thursday, June 17, 2010

Oh, Hanna, hey, Hanna Ho?

I'm - how do I put this - disappointed in Miley Cyrus' latest career move.
This is really no surprise. As you can probably guess, I haven't really liked anything Cyrus has put out (that's a pretty funny sentence once you get the context of this post further down). In fact, I thank my lucky stars, as I guess she would say, that my girls are too young to like "Hannah Montana." The amount of time she's spent on my TV screen is a tiny millifraction of the time, say, the Backyardigans have camped there.
In fact, to even say I'm disappointed implies that I expected anything other than crap. I really didn't.
Yet I am a little surprised by her new direction, and for this, I guess, I'm disappointed.
Hannah Montana is now a sexpot.
Maybe even a slut.
Someone who knows me - and that's probably all of you, or else there's really no reason to read this - could easily point out the many contradictions that will follow. Yes, I read SI's swimsuit issue. Yes, I've pointed out certain women who are hot. Yes, I've even defended a woman's right to choose her own path, and if that includes celebrating her sexuality, then so be it.
So why am I not standing up and cheering Miley Cyrus' transformation? She says she's "matured" as a songwriter. Shouldn't I celebrate that?
Well, no. I'm disappointed, and here's why.
She's still Hannah Montana.
She's still the girl with the blonde wig.
And she didn't need to Ho herself to become rich and famous.
Now believe me, I'm impressed with the way her handlers have managed to move her past her child-star status. That's mostly her father, who was known for a stupid novelty country hit before he was Hannah's Daddy. I once interviewed Billy Ray, and I thought he was very nice but dumb as a post. Apparently I didn't give him enough credit. He's managed a rare feat: He gave a child star a career beyond the teen years. Usually they not only fail, they fail miserably. Gary Coleman, God rest his soul, and his supporting cast in "Different Strokes" is a perfect example.
But her latest image is just so unoriginal. I had hopes for Cyrus. I honestly believed that because she was already huge, she wouldn't feel any pressure to prance around in her underwear in a video and sing about how she's so wild and slutty, as she does in "Can't Be Tamed."
A lot of female pop stars obviously DO feel that pressure to sell records or even get signed for the privilege of making one, and let's be honest, they probably do. Alicia Keys didn't really have to do that, but there aren't many who have her chops (and truth be told, she's not exactly innocent these days).
Now I know I look like a prude here. I'm hardly that. In fact if someone like Nancy Grace or Dr. Laura was ranting about this very topic or about Cyrus' video, I'd probably think she sounded screechy and all finger-pointy.
So why am I disappointed?
Well, the world hardly needs another Britney Spears. But my main fear is not unoriginality.
I have twin girls.
I have twin girls who just turned 3. They already like pretty dresses and necklaces and shoes, so they are well on their way to girlhood. It also means they are influenced by what they see, and that means I have to counteract what they see with good, sound advice.
It's quite possible that they will never really know Hannah Montana and only know Miley Cyrus, and they may see Cyrus as some weird pop diva who sings crappy songs. Man, I hope so.
But knowing Disney's unabashed preference for squeezing every last drop out of its most famous characters - just take a gander at the famous "Princess" line of toys and clothing, where Snow White, Cinderella and other "princesses" get recycled for proof - I have a feeling that one day they will stumble across some "Hannah Montana" product and think it's pretty cool. That might lead them to the TV show.
Eventually they will have to make the connection that Hannah Montana is, in fact, that weird pop diva who prances around in her underwear. They will see that Hannah Montana is now a sexpot.
And how hard will it be for them to make the connection that in order to be liked, or popular, or even just to get a little attention, you need to be ultra-sexy. If it worked for Hannah, a little girl with a blonde wig who was a huge star, it might work for them. After all, even Hannah had to be sexpot, and she was already popular!
So as much as I don't care about other pop stars flaunting what God gave them (or their plastic surgeons), I really wish Hannah Montana had decided on a different route.
I will have a big influence over my girls' lives. I'll encourage them to play sports, possibly play music and follow their hearts. But I don't want to choose their TV shows for them, and if they like "Hannah Montana" or her clone in 15 years, well, so be it.
I remember with a little longing at some of the stars of the 80s. Whitney Houston didn't really get naked, and neither did Tiffany or Debbie Gibson. Dads could rest a bit easy if their daughters liked them.
Then again, maybe it's only a matter of time. Houston got stoned. And both Gibson and Tiffany? They posed for Playboy.

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