10/7/13

MY Open Letter to Miley Cyrus . . .

While I weighed on America's obsession with the Twerking incident of the VMAs a few weeks ago where Miley Cyrus played a central, inverted role - I've not yet really articulated my position on Miley Cyrus as a woman. For that I apologize. For that I will now make amends. Why? Because I have no other blog posts in mind right now.

Dear Miley -

Greetings and salutations from the dad of a seven year old girl living, working, and trying to figure stuff out on the high plains. You may remember Kansas from a brief stop made by the CGI dog, Bolt, who longed to be reunited with a CGI girl you provided the voice for in 2008. Yeah. Maybe not. Bit of a stretch. Anywho . . .

I just wanted to share a few thoughts with you - nothing scandalous or judgey (I don't think). First . . . my family loved you as Hannah Montana. Everyone did, right? Our daughter had your early CDs and a the movies on DVD and even a poster in her room. We really enjoyed the work and, like with Shia LeBouef on his Disney TV show, or Tom Hanks in Bosom Buddies, felt you would go on to do bigger and better things and we were excited for you and looked forward to it.

Party in the U.S.A.? We "bumped that jam in the car" (listened to it - who knows what the kids are really saying these days) for an entire summer. It was clearly part of a transition for you (Did you really not know who Jay-Z was when you recorded that song?). And that was pretty much it for us - NOT because you were growing up and becoming a woman in your life and career choices but because, well, my kid moved on to other things (you understand, I hope).

Then things got kind of crazy (or cray, if you prefer). You were doing photo shoots with your father that seemed inappropriate to some. You were out and about despite being underage for some of the activities you were engaging in. Your family's struggles became news. You were sharing the spotlight with your father in a lot of ways. You had no real identity at an age where every person your age wants their own identity. And you, unlike most of your peers, had a gagillion dollars available to you. I was on work study and doing hourly jobs at your age - some cheap, canned beer, a pack of clove cigarettes, and a trip to the Chinese Buffet was my indulgence and it probably felt every drop as wonderful to me as your activities do to you. Anywho - you're back in my daughter's proverbial wheelhouse again (congrats - I'm sure you seek the pre-Tween demographic).

I'm not going to judge you. Why? You're not nearly as annoying as some of the crap my child is in to (have you seen this "What Does the Fox Say?" video? Holy crap, Miley!)

More importantly . . . I'm not in a position to. Why doesn't that stop anyone else? We're sort of a dick society, young lady. We expect certain things from people. We think that if you are rich and famous and in a position of leadership or admiration (regardless of how you got there or what your role you want to play with your power) than you MUST act a certain way or you have failed us. And people do fail us. ALL the time. Usually men. Generally older. Often with spouses and kids caught up in the pain. We judge them, too. No. We are not as quick to make parenting or gender or eating disorders part of the dialogue but that is because we presume you outgrow the pressures of society as you age. And these folks have aged. You will too.

So what am I rambling about? Why the letter? I wanted to give you a few pieces of advice:

1) Center yourself. You seem very angry. Yes. I see the huge smiles and tongue sticking outs (that's not real English). I read the quotes. But they all seem fake and contrived.

2) Your body is your own. It is not for sharing. No, no. I'm not going to tell you to save yourself for marriage (it is 2013, I get it). I'm saying that you don't have to make your body part of your every move and action. I watched this video clip this morning:



It was sorta' beautiful. Your lyrics made me laugh but I'm old and out of touch. Your shower shoes made me happy. Just you sitting and signing with three guitarists and having fun doing it made me remember why my family used to like you and why we expected to see and hear from you for a long time.

3) Forget MOST people. I would dare say (having been your age a long, long time ago) a good chunk of your actions, words, and deeds lately are sorta' self-searching and sorta' defiance to all the judging and criticizing (my father once told me not to get a credit card . . . I got TWO). Here's who you should focus on . . . your parents, your siblings, your fiance (if you're still together - a Google was inconclusive) and your real friends. And I don't mean to focus on any of them in a business/professional sense but in a real, emotional way - are you honoring your relationships and are you who they want and need you to be? Are they doing the same for you?

4) PLEASE stop with the random tattoos, already. The sizes, shapes, and definitely unsymmetrical positioning of them makes your body look the cardboard display surrounds of individual markers for sale in a craft store where "artists" doodle. I don't "get" tattoo culture and I'm not judging or saying you're making mistakes - I'm just saying you need some sort of strategic plan the next time you hit the parlor. Your body - your rules but . . . nevermind.

5) Focus. It is the advice I give my daughter when she's reading, playing with her toys, singing or dancing, heading in to gymnastics class, telling a story, picking out her clothes, or getting upset about something. If you eliminate the noise, if you are dutiful, if you have a goal and if you have a plan to reach it - you'll be just fine. I doubt some of these actions lately are part of a focused plan. If I'm wrong - so be it - I don't "get" your plan. But if you have no focus or intent you have nothing. I'm NOT saying you can't have fun, enjoy your age, wealth, and the fact that you live in a time and place where fun, frivolity, mistakes, and envelope pushing is allowed. I'm saying when you set your mind and energy to something - make it count.

That's it. No judgement. No defenses. No finger wagging. Just some observations and advice from a dad who hopes his daughter grows up to be her own strong, focused person who knows what "love" is and who/were it comes from and how to give and receive it. The more young woman like you, who she is aware of and could perhaps find some inspiration in, can do it - the more likely she (and her peers) will do it.

Have a nice day, kiddo. Be safe out there. No wooden nickles, etc.

- Sean