Miley Cyrus quickly made it to the top of stardom after Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan fell out of grace with their fan base of teens, tweens, and younger. Britney and Lindsay ultimately got tangled up in the treacherous web of partying, alcohol, and drugs, just like so many kid and teen stars before them. Unable to deal with their sudden stardom and fading thereof, their access to a boatload of money, the media and fan attention, and ultimately growing up, they ended up messing up in the public spotlight. Fittingly, on the heal of their disastrous downfall, Miley, also known as Hannah Montana and Destiny Hope Cyrus, was portrayed as the good girl from next door, down to earth and without fail. But is she? Is her much discussed “nude” picture just the beginning? Does she, too, have problems dealing with growing up and the stress of the up and downs of her career?
Miley Cyrus comes from a family with a history in the spotlight. Her father is Billy Ray Cyrus; her grandfather is Ron Cyrus. One would think the family knows how to deal with being scrutinized by the media, knows that stardom has its ups and downs. But it seems that Miley’s parents got caught up in the spotlight themselves, unable to make the proper decisions for their daughter. It looks like they are putting fame first, Miley second.
Let’s face it, her father was not exactly that famous until his daughter landed a hit with the “Hannah Montana” show. It’s been a good ride for them in the last two years. The “good girl” image suited her well. Parents desperate for a good role model for their children, after the other “role models” screwed up, jumped at it. Disney was more than happy to feed the image, and so was the media.
But not surprisingly, and this should have been well known by Miley’s parents, the media is prone to scrutinizing public images of stars. Miley just looked too polished, too much without failure for it to be true. Consequently, the parents were asked how they would prevent her from becoming another Britney or Lindsay once she gets older. The answer was usually that they show her the terrible pictures and stories of failed stars, especially Britney and Lindsay; encouraging her to make the right choices and not to end up just like them. Sure, scare tactics are good, and I’m sure she got the message. But lets face it, she is a teenager, prone to mistakes as much as she would like to avoid them. And do they seriously believe the parents of past teen idols did not try to do the same? It’s really not a novel idea!
And her parents seem to have failed her. It’s simply not enough to apply scare tactics to prevent a downward spiral in a teen idol once she grows up. It looks like the parents began to ignore the warning signs of an identity crisis. Every teen goes through it, but teen idols seem to have a greater struggle dealing with it. The goody-two-shoe image is easy to uphold, when one is thirteen, but at fifteen it’s a different game. At that age the average teen is trying to find his/her own identity. Struggle with self-esteem issues are normal as well as the beginning separation from the parents. What parents of teenage children don’t go through countless arguments with them? How often do they encounter that their teen just doesn’t want to be on the same page with them? It’s not trendy to agree with your parents.
But how about Miley? Given the name Destiny Hope at birth, she seems to be going through a phase of despising the name. This is also not unusual for a teenager. Unfortunately for Miley, she already had an alternative name, a “stage name,” as Miley Cyrus. Unlike Destiny, Miley instantly hit success. Why not take on the more popular name? And off goes a fifteen-year-old initiating the process of legally changing her real name to her “stage name.” And the parents offer their full support!
Come on, this should have set off red flags left and right. She clearly is struggling with self-esteem issues and is in the middle of an identity crisis. Not a kid anymore, not yet an adult. Legally Destiny Hope Cyrus, on stage Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana. Destiny is the past, Miley the famous future. Destiny has to obey her parents, Miley is independent. What would the average teen go for? Independence, freedom from parental control, anything that would make a statement that she is her own person, has her own identity, and cannot be governed by her parents anymore. Yet her parents stand by idly ignoring this little cry for help, the beginning of a crisis.
Now we have this scandalous picture taken by Annie Leibovitz. Whether it is exactly nudity and sultry is debatable. Maybe Miley really thought it was supposed to be art. Who knows? But her parents, who were according to Leibovitz present at the photo shoot, and had liked the picture, should have known better. It is absolutely unacceptable to take a picture of a naked fifteen-year-old only covered by a sheet, not even for the sake of art. If the regular Joe would have taken the picture, its pornographic nature would have been questioned and authorities might have even considered bringing up charges of kiddie porn. What were the parents thinking!
Yes, Annie Leibovitz should have known better, but keep in mind, it’s her job. Pictures like this sell big time! But Miley’s parents should have never agreed to it, never, ever! Miley is a gullible fifteen-year-old with hardly any real life experience. All she knows is show biz. If somebody tells her that something is good for her career, she’ll do it. She was quoted as saying, “You don’t say no to Annie Leibovitz.” Girl, you are not a fashion model, you don’t have the qualities for it. You are a teen idol, and you have the right to say no!
Why did Miley’s parents fail to protect her? It’s simple, Miley is growing up and needs an image change as new teen idols have entered show biz. Miley is losing her appeal for her regular fan base and needs to grow up with them. Showing her in a more grown-up pose is fitting. But this photo backfired. There is a difference between a lady and a slut. The picture makes her out to be the latter and no amount of apologies and disapproval can erase that. They knowingly let it happen. They simply should have known better!
The nude picture is unflattering in many ways. Besides the depiction of an underage teenager in a pornographic-like pose, Miley just doesn’t look appealing either. To me she looks sickly. She also looks almost like Shannen Doherty, whose escapades didn’t exactly make her a fan-favorite when she outgrew 90210.
I blame the parents. They should have never allowed this to be taken in the first place. They should have never shown their approval of the picture to the photographer, either. Ultimately, it should have been clear to them, it would be published. The onslaught of disapproval was foreseeable. If they did not see this, they failed as parents to protect Miley. If they did foresee it, they failed as parents and sacrificed their daughter in order to benefit more of her fame.
Despite of what happened, Miley still has a chance to keep up her good image. But she needs help, psychological help. She needs help with her growing pains, her identity crisis, and fading stardom. Her parents should heed the warning signs, should protect her, not drag her on tours across country, and not let her do things a fifteen-year-old shouldn’t do. Otherwise, this photo, Miley’s readiness to go along with it, her (and her parents) inability to judge the inappropriateness of it, will result in a downward spiral much like the one other teen idols experienced.
Here is to hope that Miley’s parents not willingly sacrifice her to benefit from the publicity and monetary compensation that comes with the media exposure.