02 May, 2008

Miley Cyrus - A Marketing Genius!

So you are fifteen - being toted by the biggest empire in the world to be the best thing since sliced bread. The movie you released in February sold out in minutes and dominated the US box office. Your TV show is #1 and is the impetus of turning 5 year olds into 15 year olds. You have become a promoted (and molded) role model for the next generation. So what do you do?

Take an "artsy" yet equally "controversial" photo for Vanity Fair.

Okay, first off, she is fifteen and while that picture was artsy it is suggestive and for her age it's inappropriate - but let's call the kettle out and say that the empire of the mouse has been promoting her far beyond her age for years. Miley is this generation's Mickey Mouse Club. They want her to have sex appeal, but not too much, to be fun, flirty and suggestive while remaining "squeaky clean." And while I struggle with the long term effects of the programing Disney puts out - Vanity Fair did nothing to Miley Cyrus that Disney has not been doing for years.

It's the "she's not a woman, but we can't let her be a girl" phase. Disney is the precursor to MTV. We wonder why high school students say they want to be famous above all else, why shows like The Hills, Next, My Sweet 16, and Telia Tequela are so popular and starting examining at 17 the decay of our youth. Yet, at three we plop them down in front of "role models" who scheme, lie, avoid consequences, manipulate their parents and get the boy. We can't change at 17 what has been ingrained during the formative years (we can't get mad at our kindergarteners for having attitude when we tell them to idolize Raven and Miley who have plenty of disrespect to go around - and are usually using it to dupe their dimwitted parents...).

The Cyrus camp knew what they were doing. And my guess is Vanity Fair did too. You don't take a photo like that without having her parents there and a mountain of release forms signed. Vanity Fair is benefiting from the controversy - everyone is benefiting except for Disney who is reaping the consequences of their marketing ploys. Their used girl was used by someone else. The overly promoted role model is human! Gasp! Then we wonder why teen stars fall when we tell them to be above reproach and embody this 1950's view of women that no one in our society clings too. Yet put pressure on them to be sexy and seductive. Miley Cyrus cannot be a child and a woman. She's fifteen and has been made into this image that Disney manipulates to be a substitute for engaging our children.

Ross Douthat had these thoughts to share (emphasis mine):

...Precisely because I think the Cyruses are stage-managing this whole "controversy" - and doing so pretty adeptly - I'm inclined to think that maybe, just maybe, they have enough worldliness and self-awareness to navigate Miley's adolescence without letting the celebrity machine grind her down into Britney Redux. That machine isn't evil because it corrupts every young woman who steps into its gears; it's evil because it preys upon the weak and the damaged and the dumb, the girls who aren't equipped to deal with the intersection of their celebrity and their sexuality, and with the culture's desire to use them up and throw them away. And while this whole phony controversy doesn't make me think that highly of Miley Cyrus and the people around her, it does make me think that they might be smart enough - and, yes, cynical enough - to play the system, rather than letting the system play them.

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© Amanda Lunday