Miley’s Lessons

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Lessons from Miley

Today’s Chicago Tribune tells the tale of parents exasperated with yet another teen idol letting them and their kids down¢â‚¬¦

“On dozens of chat groups and blogs, you can almost hear parents’ fury and frustration.

’I thought I was doing the right thing by restricting my child to G-rated programs on the Disney Channel,’ reads one posting.

’How am I supposed to explain this to my 9 year old?’ asks another.

‘Here we go again,’ rails a mother clearly exhausted from explaining to her kids why America’s reportedly straight-and-narrow teen idols just can’t seem to stay on the straight and narrow.'”

This of course is all in reaction to Miley Cyrus who at 15 years of age is a media sensation and is the latest squeaky-clean Disney role model to disappoint her fans.

Her Best of Both Worlds concert tour last year sold $36 million in tickets, and generated a hit 3D film, but venues sold out so quickly and scalpers sold so many tickets at such high prices that angry parents filed suit and politicians launched investigations. Her CD sales are booming.

But Cyrus was forced to apologize this week for a photo shoot with Vanity Fair magazine, shot by celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz.

One showed the teen covered only by a sheet.

Originally Cyrus defended herself. “Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought it was really cool. That’s what she wanted me to do, and you can’t say no to Annie.” Cyrus went on, “I think it’s really artsy. It wasn’t in a skanky way.” 

But she had changed her tune by Sunday, when she released this statement: “I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed. I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

Cyrus also said she was sorry for a series of raunchy snaps released last week. One featured Cyrus pulling her singlet down to reveal a lacy green bra.

The first I knew we might be in for another disappointment was the Barbara Walters interview after the academy awards¢â‚¬¦

Walters talked to Miley about actress Jamie Lynn Spears, sister of singer Britney Spears and an actress on the youth-oriented Nickelodeon network, who became pregnant at age 16 – and Vanessa Hudgens, a star of Disney’s High School Musical, whose image took a thrashing when full frontal nude pictures of her appeared on the internet. Miley described them as her friends and good girls. She seemed sweet, naive and not overly discerning.

After the photo shoot the reaction has been swift. Jamie Lee Curtis said Cyrus’ parents should have stopped her from participating in the Vanity Fair photo shoot. “She is a young girl. She shouldn’t have to deal with any of this. I don’t feel that she was duped … there were people at the shoot that should have been looking out to make sure this didn’t happen.”

Shock jock Howard Stern complained about one Vanity Fare photo showing Cyrus, with a bared midriff, resting on the knee of her father, country singer, Billy Ray Cyrus, saying “this picture disturbs me. It looks like his daughter is his girlfriend. He’s trying to be hot.”

What are parents to do?

1) Redefine what we mean by role model. Parents have got to stop being enablers of the commercialized marketized celebrity of these teen stars. This celebrity worship is bad for our kids and bad for the stars. Role models ought to be real live, local people who know about our kids and care about them, not some disembodied packaged digitally delivered retailed persona.

2) Show mercy to Miley. She’s young She’s got too much pressure on her. She’s a product of a superficial culture and an imitative Christian Sub-culture. A superficial age produces superficial humans. How is a 15 year-old in such conditions expected to be rooted and grounded?

3) Be Parents. Our job is not to be cool or to facilitate our kids desire to keep up with fads and their friends. Disney exists to make money not raise kids and everything they produce exists to meet their interests not ours. We are the parents not Disney and we need to be raising countercultural kids. It starts by balancing our kid’s media diet and facilitating real contact with real people, most importantly with parents!

Yours for the pursuit of God in the company of friends, Dick Staub.

PS. And remember, “these are the best of times and the worst of times, but they are the only times we have.” (For Now).

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    Posted in Staublog in May 1, 2008 by | No Comments »

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