When I first heard of a 13-year-old performer named Miley Cyrus, she was starring in Hannah Montana, a TV show my kids had just discovered on the Disney channel. My son was six-years-old, and my daughter was three.
Seven years later, they have now moved on. And so has Miley.
Her controversial and well-documented departure from that persona got us talking this week.
“I still like her songs,” my ten-year-old daughter told me. “But her new videos aren’t appropriate for me.” When I asked my 13 year-old son what he thought, he just shrugged like he didn’t care.
Lots of other people care quite a bit, though. And some high profile celebrities have been sharing their opinions as well.
Many of them strongly disagree with Miley’s overtly sexual performances, scandalous publicity stunts, and frequent twerking and tongue displays that keep making the news. Perhaps she would have upset less people if she hadn’t started off as a squeaky-clean child star, but it seems the shock of her transformation from good girl to bad has started wearing off, and people are expecting her to be outrageous now.
“She’s an attention whore,” one of my friends said, rolling her eyes. “If she just went on stage in a classy dress and sang nice and normal like she used to, she’d be a lot more respected.” Maybe. But would she be constantly making headlines and leading the polls as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year? I doubt it.
Albert Einstein once said: “You have to learn the rules of the game and then you have to play better than anyone else.”
That’s what Miley seems to be doing quite brilliantly. She’s an entertainer, that’s her job. To say she’s an attention whore might sound like an insult, but it’s actually a compliment. To be accused of that in her line of work usually means she’s doing something right.
Attacking her, or any performer, for using their looks or sexuality to get attention is futile. So who should be targeted instead? The industry executives who often act as the puppeteers for some of these starlets? They’re just doing their jobs as well – it’s business.
And we certainly can’t criticize the media can we? They’re merely writing about people and topics they hope will get shared on social media to generate more advertising dollars. It’s a business for them as well.
In a recent essay in Glamour Magazine, actress Rashida Jones blames the current state of the music industry and the “pornification of everything” on all the wrong people in my opinion. If blame should be placed on any one, it should be on us – the public.
There’s nothing as effective as the published angry protests against someone to generate more interest in them.
It’s simply supply and demand. If readers don’t respond to a story, the media is less likely to run another one, and the performer is less likely to try similar antics if their sole objective was attention.
Personally, I’m not bothered with the way people wish to present themselves, whether they’re a celebrity or not. Yes, I have young impressionable kids who can be influenced by others – but that has always been the reality and there’s no changing that fact.
Variety and choice is another fact. Not everyone in show business is overtly sexual or into publicity stunts, and there are many other performers to choose from if that’s not our cup of tea.
As far as my children are concerned, I encourage them to appreciate the entertainers they enjoy, but refrain from putting them on a pedestal. We’re all just people after all, and we all have unique qualities that deserve celebrating. It’s up to us who we decide to give energy and pay attention to. The public holds the real power.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. She can be contacted at LoriWelbourne.com