I was thinking about the Miley Cyrus kerfuffle the other night while watching a Duck Dynasty marathon. I’m a recent convert to the show, being wary of most of what falls under the category “reality show.” One can never be sure when treading into the dark waters of so-called “reality” TV that Miss Kay is at all different from Mama June.
Miley is taking a bit of a beating for her performance on MTV’s Video Music Awards. While the backlash is understandable — she is an adult and therefore responsible for her own behavior — did she really even stand a chance, given her parents’ willingness to dump her into the cesspool that is Hollywood?
Compare and contrast dads Billy Ray Cyrus and Willie Robertson: while both are Southern good ole boys, Billy Ray went Hollywood and Willie chose to stay backwoods. And there’s the difference. Willie chose what is best for his family, while still being able to become an American success story. For the most part the Robertsons have kept it real — that is, they’ve kept their lives family-centered, not celebrity-centered. Every show ends with the family seated around the dinner table in prayer. The message is very powerful, and the show’s high ratings support that message.
On the other hand, Billy Ray, like many other stage moms and dads before him, pimped his daughter out to the highest bidder. He has thrown her to the wolves for his own gain, and they’ve devoured her with relish.
Another difference between Billy Ray Cyrus and Willie Robertson is that Billy Ray wants to be friends with his kids, as he himself expressed in an interview from six years ago with Glenn Beck. Billy Ray abdicated the role of dad in favor of the easier route. Willie, on the other hand, lets his kids know he is Dad. He took his daughter homecoming dress shopping when he didn’t approve of the length of the dress. One can be sure that if Miley were Willie’s daughter, she would not have been seen on stage wearing a flesh-colored bikini.
Billy Ray was quoted as saying, “Of course I’ll always be here for Miley. I can’t wait to see her when she gets home. She’s still my little girl, and I’m still her dad, regardless how this circus we call show business plays out. I love her unconditionally, and that will never change.”
That’s great, Billy Ray. And will you be there to pick her up from rehab as well? Or how about drive her to her court appointment for drunk driving, or worse?
Like fellow kid starlets-turned-Happy Hookers Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, Miley appears to be rebelling against the wholesome image that cemented her stardom to begin with. Despite Disney being “family” entertainment (and you could certainly argue how ‘family’ it still is), it is very much a part of the ‘Holly-weird’ culture, and weird, destructive behavior is very much standard operating procedure in Hollywood. The casting couch is a fixture within the business, and libertine attitudes regarding booze, drugs and sex, while appalling, go back to its earliest years.
I believe that Miley is rebelling because she sees sluttiness as the only way to make it in our pop culture; otherwise, she’ll fade into the woodwork like countless child stars have done once they’ve grown up. And as her “buddy” rather than her dad, Billy Ray failed to provide Miley a vision for a more respectable and productive future.
We have a pop culture that encourages women to look like and act like whores under the guise of “empowerment,” sexual and otherwise. The Mileys of the world believe they’ll be the next Madonna. They don’t see that they will be discarded has-beens and tabloid fodder a few years down the road. Madonna, whom the Mileys regard as the gold standard for selling sex and shock, is an anomaly, and a shrewd businesswoman, too; that is how she’s survived all of these years.
Sex sells, but so do long beards and homespun humor. Unfortunately, the Mileys out there fail to grasp that decency sells over the long term. As a Hollywood parent, Billy Ray should have been fighting tooth and nail to ensure that Miley was equipped to handle the pressures and temptations around her.
Shame on Billy Ray. I know if Willie Robertson were her dad, he’d have taken her to the woodshed.