The big discussion at GLONO HQ Tuesday night revolved around the Miley Cyrus cover story on the August issue of Elle magazine. When I first saw it, I didn’t realize it was Hannah Montana on the cover. I thought it was just some cool looking skater girl model. She looked like a teenage River Phoenix:
Pretty cool, right? Some of the other photos are a little age-inappropriate for a 16-year-old girl, but that’s not particularly shocking. We’ve been down this road last year with the “topless” Vanity Fair shots by Annie Leibovitz. Which were tame and lame…even for a 15-year-old.
The crazy thing in this Elle piece is not the photo shoot but the article in which Billy Ray Cyrus so shamelessly pimps out his daughter.
BRC clearly saw some synergy with a 20-year-old male underwear model:
“My dad showed me a picture of him, and I’m like, ‘He’s okay,'” Miley recalls. “He said, ‘You don’t think he’s really hot?’ And I was like, ‘He’s not really my type. Too pretty.’ He was like, ‘What? You’re the only girl that’s not freaking out about him right now.’
“[Justin] came to the set with my dad in September because my dad was helping him write some music. My dad said, ‘Hey, I have a surprise for you.’ And I’d been wanting a puppy.”
Helping him write some music? Okay, you own the publishing on some dumb hunky newcomer, but if you want anybody to be interested in his music, just get him to date your preposterously popular daughter, whether she’s underage or not. What kind of dad does that kind of shit for his teenage daughter? This kind: “I’m a friend first and foremost, then a daddy, and then a business partner.”
First of all, it’s fucked up to put being a “friend” ahead of being a parent. Furthermore, I’m guessing that #3 and #2 should be switched up there, if he’s being honest. I’m guessing #3 is actually #1. He pretty much comes right out and admits it:
“Our lives have always been in the big tent of the circus,” Billy Ray says. “The kids grew up in that tent. Show business has always been the cornerstone of our livelihood. It’s what we do.”
Telling choice of words there. Not “Music has always been the cornerstone of our lives.” Show business…livelihood. It’s all money money money.
Back at GLONO HQ, Johnny Loftus read the article out loud as the rest of us chimed in. My 21-year-old cousin, in town for the summer, was bewildered that a couple of grown-ass men gave a shit about Miley Cyrus. Loftus attempted in vain to explain how important it is to understand the context from which out popular culture is formed, but my cousin wasn’t buying it. We were just a couple of creepy old dudes leering at a skanky 16-year-old.
But the marketing angle of the whole “Hannah Montana” phenomenon is fascinating and creepy. It’s aimed at teen and pre-teen girls, and the work is performed by a teenage girl, but the freak pulling the strings to perpetuate his “livelihood” is a pervy old mullet whose own career is the butt of a joke.
Miley Cyrus is not a good actor, she’s not a good singer, but she’s more famous than anybody. Why? At the end of the article, a director named Brett Ratner sums it up pretty nicely:
“In a time when you don’t need to be talented to be famous, she’s good enough that she wouldn’t have to work that hard, but she does. […] I wasn’t the most talented director in the world, but I worked hard to have success. She works harder than any young person I’ve ever met.”
So there you have it. Miley Cyrus is a mediocre talent who works toward being successful. With a little pushing from her achy breaky dad. And that, apparently, is what our pop culture is all about today. Come on, this isn’t even Elle Girl, the kids version that folded in 2006. This is for adults. And it’s important. The Disney steamroller is going to flatten all of us. Or something. You’d better ask Loftus to explain it…
What do you think? Is it right for a dad (or anybody) to market a 16-year-old girl like this?