Oh my, Miley

Miley Cyrus as Hannah MontanaAuthor’s Note: If only Miley’s parents had read this column when I first published it back in 2008.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus,

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Montana,

To the parents of Miley Cyrus (a.k.a. Hannah Montana) or whatever the heck you call yourselves,

You’re breaking my acky breaky heart.

Have you learned nothing from the examples of Dina & Michael Lohan, Lynne & Jamie Spears, or Kathy & Rick Hilton?

For those of us who are parents, this troika provides us with a deliciously devilish opportunity for judgment.

Welcome to the club.

I can’t tell you how many nights I’ve comforted myself with the fact that, no matter no matter how many times I’ve yelled at my son, or laughed insensitively at his mispronunciations of words, or written about them in my column, no matter how grotesque his table manners are or what my other parental failings have been–I can always take comfort in the fact that these people are more irresponsible than I am.

So Tish and Billy Ray, welcome to the elite group of celebrity scandalette parents who make me feel better about myself.

Are you really, honestly, expecting us to believe that you’re so clueless that you didn’t think “Vanity Fair Magazine” might possibly try to take pictures of your daughter that would make her look a little, oh say, slutty? Have you ever seen the magazine before? I’m pretty sure that Annie Leibowitz convinced Caspar Weinberger and Henry Kissinger to pose naked with the globe painted on their butt cheeks. Did you really think your little Miley could resist her charms?

I’m not buying it.

Could you really have thought it was a good idea to let your 15-year-old daughter–who up until recently was greeted by millions of parents with a huge sigh of relief for the simple reason that she was a famous little girl who didn’t leave the house without her underwear–pose topless in a magazine that is known as the holy grail for publicity-hungry stars who want to promote their movies, music projects or television shows in the nude?

Whether you are her parents first or her managers first, it’s time to catch a clue. You can’t blame the photographer, who isn’t exactly known for taking prom pictures. You can’t even blame the evil media empire for this one.

She may be both Hannah and Miley on your TV show, but in real life you can’t have it both ways.

Either the G-rated empire that you and Disney have built around Miley is ready to go PG-13 and we’re all going to have to face up to the fact that your little girl is not so little anymore, or you made a major public relations misstep with the Golden Goose of an empire that, let’s face it, is the only thing keeping Billy Ray from two-stepping onto “Dancing with the C-List.”

So what’s it going to be? In an article in the “New York Times,” a Disney executive is quoted saying, “For Miley Cyrus to be a ‘good girl’ is now a business decision for her. Parents have invested in her godliness. If she violates that trust, she won’t get it back.”

With Miley stumbling off of her squeaky-clean Disney pedestal, are there any Hollywood child stars a parent can trust not to pose topless–or sheet-full–these days?

This is not just any 15-year-old girl we’re talking about. She is just about the only non-animated role model marketed as being “appropriate” and G-rated for little girls–unless you count the American Girl Dolls, and so far, they’re not selling out concert halls and movie theatres like little Miss Montana. (Although I did hear that 1974’s Julie was hooked on Valium and had shacked up with 1764’s Kaya.)

The “Vanity Fair” article author asked Miley point-blank if she felt a lot of pressure with a billion-dollar Disney brand resting on her shoulders. Doesn’t she have to watch herself constantly?

Miley’s response: “Not really. That’s what my parents are for. They’re there to take care of that, and I can just do what I love.”

My point exactly. Somebody needs to be an adult around here and it’s not your 15-year-old daughter.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on May 2, 2008.