Miley Cyrus 'Wrecking Ball': To join or not to join the angry (curious) mob

Miley Cyrus and her new nude music video 'Wrecking Ball': Record numbers click on her newest shock. But perhaps viewers might consider whether expressing that shock in public forums isn’t contributing to someone’s wallet and another’s downfall.

REUTERS/Phil McCarten/Files
Miley Cyrus's 'Wrecking Ball' video has left many wondering what happened to the the girl behind Hannah Montana. In this pre-makeover photo, Cyrus and her father Billy Ray Cyrus attend the premiere of "Hannah Montana the Movie" in Los Angeles, April 2, 2009.

In the midst of the firestorm surrounding the twerking, bare-all “Wrecking ball” ways of Miley Cyrus it’s easy to join the angry mob when perhaps we should consider whether our public outrage is fueling the marketing cycle that drives female performers to more self-destructive heights.

Lindsey Lohan, Miley Cyrus, Amanda Bynes, are all in seemingly perpetual self-destruct mode, casualties of the relentless marketing of young female Disney child stars, driven from one phase of stardom to another.

The patterns seems to hold: Loveable child star goes rogue, burns out, tanks, fans turn on her and she finally gets it together for a glorious Disney ending comeback.

We loved them as children and now we cry out over what they’ve become. Television made them our children and in that everlasting role we can’t seem to stop paying attention to their exploits and rooting for the turn-around. Brittany made it, maybe they can too.

In her new video Cyrus begins in her underwear and progresses to total nudity (but for a pair of shoes) while on a wrecking ball, singing about how her lover has turned her into a wrecking ball in life and in the process destroyed her.

Viewers quickly filled the comments section her video with the majority saying they actually liked the song but the video wrecked it for them.

This backlash, however, will not likely get the video pulled, dampen sales, or deter the young star from future nudity and scandal.

In fact, given the way marketing works today it’s likely to bring more of the same because ultimately Cyrus’ name and therefore her “brand” is trending at number one on Yahoo and Google trends today.

About 20 years ago when I was a daily reporter on Long Beach Island, N.J., there was a public official named James Mancini. Mancini was a “double dipper” drawing a public salary as both mayor and county freeholder. The man would say the most outrageous things, shoot from the hip, scandalize and entrance voters and reporters alike.

One day he said something completely absurd in response to one of my questions, and I broke protocol and said, “Are you really saying this to me? You know we’re on the record. Why do you say it when you clearly know it’s untrue and damaging to you?”

Mancini smiled the smile of a grandfather about to reveal the secret of all time to a favorite grandchild. He said he gave me the quote because people forget. When they step into the booth on election day, they haven’t really been paying attention, he said. All they see is a name they recognize and the pull the lever.

I asked him if what he’d just said was on the record and he cunningly replied, that it was and asked me to do him a favor and print that.

The thing is that he was a great mayor and an even better freeholder and the people were always better off with him in office. When he died much of the people’s power went to the grave with him.

However, he could never bring himself to be himself because somewhere along the way he’d seen for himself that bad guys were winning elections. He wanted to do good things so he publicly played the role.

Miley Cyrus’ song was good. I find myself humming it even now, but would I have listened if the video hadn’t come to my attention via a trend alert on my smartphone?

The next time a young star is unwrapped and packaged like Cyrus, enraging us, perhaps viewers need to stop and consider whether expressing it in a public forum isn’t contributing to someone’s wallet and another’s downfall.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.