Downward Spiral

“Billy Ray Cyrus and Alan Thicke, please come get your children.” Those were the comments of a local radio host the day after MTV’s Video Music Awards.

“Miley, what exactly were you thinking?” So reads the headline on the CNN website today.

Without coming across as a grumpy old man – or one of those ‘Rock and Roll will ruin our youth’ parents from the 50’s – I don’t understand what compels former Disney stars to go so far off the deep end in order to change their images. (Two weeks ago, as I walked out of the YMCA following my morning swim, I glanced at the TV. There was Selena Gomez performing live on GMA… grinding on stage like some lap dancer at Rick’s.)

I get that these almost-grown-up stars want to leave Hannah Montana and Alex Russo behind and reach a new audience. However, is it really necessary to be the exact opposite of the character that made you famous… and wealthy? I’m not sure if you would call what Miley did at the VMA’s art; however, the publicity – mostly negative, by the way – will likely sell a lot of records and concert tickets. At worst, she flipped her middle finger at the past and said, “This is the real me, world.”

You know from experience that former childhood stars have to go through a lot of growing pains – Kirk Cameron aside – before finding themselves as adults. Some make it through: Britney Spears is a good example of sinking to the depths and recovering. Others continue on the fast track to hitting bottom… making headlines for the wrong reasons. Lindsay Lohan is this generation’s poster child, with Amanda Bynes trying hard to catch her.

Given the history of ‘use and discard celebrities’ to make a lot of money, I’m guessing producers are providing guidance on what sells in America today. Unfortunately, these stories often end tragically. As a parent, it makes me glad our three children weren’t blessed with that kind of – and I use the word loosely – talent. Where have you gone Annette Funicello? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you.


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