Miley Cyrus has a big old message for Disney and she couldn’t make it any clearer. That message is “F*** off.” She’s been building up to it for awhile. It started with the suggestive Vanity Fair pictures last year. Round two was the paparazzi photos of her in a low-cut bikini top and short shorts with her cradle-robbing boyfriend who was too old to be dating the then-15-year old. Now, she’s hit the “send” button to the Mouse with her Teen Choice Awards performance to “Party in the USA.”
The problem is she’s sending the same message to her millions of young fans.
I’ve really tried not to read all the chatter about Cyrus and the stripper pole (on top of an ice cream cart no less, so her defenders can yak about how it’s not a stripper pole, it’s where the umbrella would be attached) because I wanted to come to my own conclusion after watching the performance. And it’s this: What the hell are you and your parents thinking?
Cyrus is 16. I know no parents who would let their 16-year old girl out of the house in the outfit that she’s wearing on the show. Her shorts leave virtually nothing to the imagination. Cyrus doesn’t have to wear Bermuda shorts; no one’s saying she has to wear shirts buttoned up to the neck, but for God’s sake…she could have walked straight out of Universal Amphitheater and turned a few tricks on Ventura Blvd. in that outfit.
As far as the stripper pole, I’ve heard people say it’s innocent because she simple squatted down and came back up. What? Does she have to shimmy the pole, hang upside down and spread her legs open for someone to think the stripper pole was a step too far? What part of the stripper pole imagery did you not get from her actual moves?
Here’s the thing. Cyrus seems so desperate to shed her teen image that she’s biting the hand that feeds her-and maybe that’s what she wants to do, but it’s not going to work. Working the pole and dressing like a streetwalker isn’t going to get her an older audience… other than pervy old men. That ship has sailed. All it’s going to do is have tween girls (who are still her base no matter how big a hit she had with “The Climb”) want to imitate her. Older teen girls couldn’t be less interested in Cyrus-they want to be Katy Perry or Lady GaGa. I imagine Cyrus’s forthcoming tour is already sold out, but if I were a mom and had viewed the TCA performance, I’d sell those tickets really fast.
Cyrus has at least one more season of “Hannah Montana,” and maybe this is her way of telling Disney that she’s had it. I did look for Disney’s reaction to the performance and, according to Newsday.com, Disney said in a statement that it won’t be saying anything: “Disney Channel won’t be commenting on that performance, although parents can rest assured that all content presented on the Disney Channel is age-appropriate for our audience – kids 6-14 – and consistent with what our brand values are.”
Newsday also reported that Cyrus told MTV News before her performance that it was a spoof on her Tennessee roots (She emerged from a white-trash trailer to begin her performance). Really? By the time Cyrus was born, her daddy, Billy Ray, who seems only too happy to let his daughter go down a road to career ruin, had already hit it big with “Achy Breaky Heart” so their trailer park days were in the rear-view mirror. Plus, that’s supposed to make it better? But maybe her idea was simply too high concept for this southerner to get it.
The road to transitioning from a tween star to an adult performer is perilous and most kids can’t do it; their fan bases are fickle and move on to the next thing and the older kids never cared about them anyway. But at the rate Cyrus is going, she’s going to burn out her career before she even gets the chance to try to make that transition. Is it self-sabotage, hubris or simply teenage rebellion? You decide…