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The New Miley Cyrus, Part 1

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Posted on October 13 2010 12:00 pm
Suzanne Venker, a.k.a. "No Bull Mom," is an author, blogger, and speaker. You can find her at www.suzannevenker.com.
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In my last post, “Why My Kids Don’t Watch Television,” I referenced Miley Cyrus’s new image, which has clearly changed from innocent young girl to teen slut. Ms. Cyrus is indeed growing up fast — like most teens do today, and like all children in Hollywood do. For those who haven’t seen the grown up Hannah Montana, take a look at one of the hit songs, ‘Who Owns My Heart?’ from her new album ‘Can’t Be Tamed.’ Then come on back…

So what is your reaction to Cyrus’s new album and video? If you’re a parent, seems to me there’s only one of two reactions to have: You either consider it  much ado about nothing or you’re deeply concerned for your children — many of whom have loved Hannah Montana for years and are watching her transformation unfold, much to your chagrin.

Indeed, Hannah Montana provided excellent family entertainment for years. It was a welcome relief to have music — as well as something at the box office (Hannah Montana The Movie was refreshingly poignant) — that families could enjoy together. Miss Cyrus could have continued to offer this kind of entertainment even as she aged.

Instead, she went to the dark side.

No doubt Cyrus’s agent and publicist suggested she do so. Sex sells, they probably said. Add such pressure to a girl who’s in the midst of becoming a young woman and there you have it: a pornographic video involving pole dancing and lesbianism that will be sold to millions of impressionable young girls. These girls have yet to determine which direction they’ll go in life, and now they’ll have Miley Cyrus to help direct them.

In response to Cyrus’s sad caricature of young womanhood, some parents will say, “When I was a kid I listened to Madonna and it didn’t hurt me in any way.” And I’d say that’s true enough, except children didn’t grow up with Madonna as an innocent young girl. She hit the scene as an anarchist from the get-go, and her image wasn’t specifically marketed to children. I was a teenager when “Like a Virgin” was released and many teenagers, if they’ve been raised well, can avoid taking this kind of stuff seriously.

But Miley Cyrus had already captured the hearts and minds of American families by growing up on television, and her choice to do so carries with it a great responsibility. If you knew millions of young girls were following your lead, wouldn’t you think twice about how to use your power? Shoot, when I was a lowly schoolteacher (I say lowly only as compared to being a movie star) I thought about my power every day — and how I should best use it with a class full of  thirteen-year-olds. Miss Cyrus could have used her power constructively or destructively. Unfortunately, she chose the latter.

The question is, why? What is it about Miley’s new image (other than money and power, which she could have retained via other means) that’s so appealing to her? What’s the new album and the new Miley really about? It is Ms. Cyrus herself who answers that question.

It’s about freeing yourself from anything that’s holding you back. And I think that’s really important, especially for girls, because so many people are told, ‘No, you can’t do something,’ or, ‘You need to be this because Mom and Dad say that, teachers say this.’

Ah, and there you have it. The new Miley is about the bogus feminist message than women and girls need to be empowered because the people in their lives invariably hold them back.

I wonder where she got that idea?

Suzanne Venker is co-author of the forthcoming book The Flipside of Feminism: What Smart Women Know – and Men Can’t Say (WND Books). Her website is www.suzannevenker.com.

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