The Miley Cyrus Syndrome

Miley Cyrus Tongue OutThis is one of those predictions that’s not fun to make:  Miley Cyrus will be shaving her head and rebelling soon.  The prediction is that over the next few years Miley will get more and more into drugs and alcohol and spin out of control.  Now my wife really doesn’t like talk like this because she disagrees and thinks I’m just being pessimistic.  It seems like simple psychology, however, given signs like her performance at the Teen Choice Awards.  When you consider the Teen Choice performance and what we’ve seen happen over the years with other child stars that have turned out to be super “successful” like Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Dakota Fanning, and the Olsen Twins it’s cause for some cynicism.  She’s only going to push the envelope harder as she gets into her twenties.

I wouldn’t even have known about Miley’s performance if it wasn’t for The Soup.   The Soup does a good job of writing about the underside of American pop culture in one of the only ways it can be stomached – with humor.  When someone acts a fool for the furtherance of fame and monetary gain The Soup will be there to keep them in check.

Did you see Miley Cyrus’ performance at the teen choice awards?  It was done for shock value to turn up the middle finger to all those that want Miley to act like the Hannah Montana role model.  Someone like Miley is a transcendent figure for a generation of kids today; she’s analogous to a mile marker on the freeway of our history.   There are millions of girls whose lives have been subtly shaped by their relationship with Hannah Montana being on in their living room throughout their formative years. My kids ask us for the Hannah Montana show and we watch it all the time as do millions of others I’m sure.

Miley Cyrus FlashNow to be fair, Miley has not done anything that is too outrageous and certainly has not done anything criminal that we know of.  In fact, the things we have seen of her personal life that have seemed a little risqué outside of the Hannah Montana show aren’t much different than what millions of girls and boys are doing in society today.  The difference here is the immediacy of what you learn about someone’s actions and the extrapolations you can make based on the people that have come before her.  Things like mobile phones with cameras, video recorders, and the internet can change people’s lives instantaneously.  For people that are megastars, one picture can cause megatweets.

Miley Cyrus with Thomas SturgesMaking predictions about Miley getting into drugs and alcohol is not done to be pessimistic or mean spirited.  The truth is that a lot of kids go through a phase like this in life whether they’re superstars or not.  The difference is the power and access someone in Miley’s position has.  Having that much money and power is difficult to control at such a young age.  Cocaine, weed and alcohol are probably as easy access as soda pop and bottled water when you have that much money and fame.  She has been exposed to so much in her young life but she is still nonetheless a child.  If we take what we learned from someone like Michael Jackson, you can see a similar pattern:  someone who is a star from such an early age is robbed of a normal childhood.  They have no one to relate to and even though they are surrounded by people that seem to worship them, they’re more alone than you could ever imagine. None of us could imagine not having a single person we could call a peer; this must be, I suppose, the rarest and most singular demographic there can be.

It’s even more difficult for someone like Miley because she’s growing up in the internet age.  And, wherever there are millions of fans, there are thousands of haters.  The haters are not shy with their insults either and can simply reach into their pockets for their phones to blast away at her.  The talking heads on the TV stations, who are no less guilty of moral decay off camera, preach their moral superiority on camera which compounds the psychological assault.  These are heavy tolls to lay on a child’s mind, and yes she is only a child.  This is just like it was with Britney; a Disney star and pop music star was rail-roaded into so many rebellious outbursts because of the abuse she took from people in the media and their minions.  It won’t be long before Miley will be going from little miss Mickey Mouse to a party girl in much the same way.   In just over a year, Miley will become a legal adult at age 18 and will be nearly impossible to tame.  All the pent up backlash of being under contract and having to act the part of a abstinent do-gooder, will be met with normal teenage rebellion; this is psychology 101.  You can only imagine how her videos will become more sexually suggestive a year from now once freed from her Disney contract and with the authority to act as a legal adult.  It’s hard to say where she’ll land over the next ten years, but a reasonable guess is somewhere in the spectrum between Britney and the Olsen Twins.  It just seems like we’ve seen it a hundred times.

Miley Cyrus In Her UnderwearLet’s hope that this prediction is wrong. Let’s hope that millions of kids don’t see this prediction come true.  Let’s be happy for her if she can keep her private life private.

It would be impossible to imagine what it’s like to live a lifestyle like Miley’s through your formative years. It would be impossible to imagine being in a peer group of one.  So many people in American society today wish and hope for fame from such an early age.  For the very few who actually attain it, you have to wonder if it’s all it’s cracked up to be. And although there is culpability on her dad’s part and Miley herself, we should be careful before passing any harsh judgement on her. We should look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves about our own culpability if things go the way of these predictions. We should ask ourselves honestly about our own virtues and the reasons we would cast stones.

If Miley shaves her head like Sinead did and grabs her crotch like Eminem does this author will be the least surprised of anyone.  If Miley turns her middle finger up at a hypocritical society I won’t blame her or be surprised; I’ll probably like her more than I ever did Hannah Montana.   Disney is fake.   Disney actors turning to drugs and rebellion after their Disney contract is up is real.

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