For her tenth birthday today, my tween daughter received two Hannah Montana CDs and a DVD of shows or concerts or something - I didn't look too closely - from her indulgent Nana. So it has entered my world and I must now at least look at it, if not confront it.
Actually, I have written about Hannah Montana before, in her real life form as Miley Cyrus. And as a cartoonist I recently addressed the disturbing pattern of sexual exploitation of Disney female child stars, best represented by the tabloid life of Britney Spears. (Note: to be fair, Disney is only part of a larger problem of the entertainment industry's exploitation of female children. See t.A.T.u..)
Indeed, as Advertising Age reports, it is this aspect of the Hannah Montana show biz phenomena that has generated concern, even anger among parents to the point of threatening the performer's brand.
With a single, revealing photo taken by Annie Leibovitz for June's Vanity Fair magazine, the 15-year-old Disney starlet all but hoisted herself aloft with a sign that read, "Hit me! I have candy inside!" Many of the world's bloggers, journalists and parents grabbed their clubs.
In case you have not seen it, this is the Leibovitz photo that has offended enough parents to elicit apologies from Disney, Cyrus and even Leibovitz in her own half-hearted "sorry you're offended" way.
My first question: why is Cyrus apologizing? She is not in control of her public image; Disney is. Secondly, what is the exact nature of the offense? Is it acknowledging that teenagers, male or female, have sexuality? As a parent, I get the squeemishness, but that's what sex education is for - to promote informed and healthy decisions that empower young people as they grow towards adulthood. You can't put your hands over your eyes and wish your child's genitals away. If the people freaked out about this image want to harp on anyone, it should be Disney, who is milking the poor girl for all that she is worth; and maybe her dad, Billy Ray. But they should leave Miley alone. Between a megalotholithic corporation and a father who once sported the world's worst mullet (that's saying something), she needs all the support she can get.