Monday, May 12, 2008

The Miley Cyrus Scandal Through an ADHD Lens

There is a lot of material to cover, so I'll cut right to the crash: The Miley Cyrus' scandal is distracting me. Now, don't go closing the browser window. This isn't one of those typical "Oh my heck and biscuits! Miley's nekkid!!!" posts.

Still, you may be wondering what the Miley Cyrus scandal has to do with ADHD. I can answer that with two words: Hyperfocus and Worry. OK, technically that's three words, but one of them isn't very ADHD specific. At any rate, those two words have everything to do with ADHD and how it affects me. Couple those words with other ADHD words like "easily" and "distracted" and you begin to understand what a fix I can find myself in.

Miley Cyrus' penchant for saucy photography isn't news to me. I've been following her career for some time now and discovered her naughty side this past January. Here in the Cootey household we have four beautiful girls who, like many other American girls, find celebrities fascinating. Girls such as Miley Cyrus come up in conversation a lot. Even more worrying is the fact that I have my own aspiring country music singer. She's sixteen, rebellious, interested in boys, and is naive in that cute but scary way that makes parents want to lock their children up until they are twentyone. I've been thinking that thirtyone might be safer, but I realize that will be a tough sell for my wife.

I don't really enjoy Miley's show, Hannah Montana. I find it trite and predictable and insulting to my intelligence. Since I don't have very much intelligence I need to be careful with it. Watching Hannah Montana makes my brain feel bruised so I tend to avoid the show altogether. However, I have studied Miley's career, and being interested in country music my daughter and I can't help but bump into her name now and then, what with Billy Ray Cyrus being Miley's dad and all.

Without diving into all the gory details that you can find better fleshed out elsewhere, the gist of the scandal is that fifteen year old Miley was pitched to Moms and Dads as a church going virgin who was purer than Snow White and twice as talented. She's even apparently pledged to remain a virgin until married. Unfortunately, her marketing machine wasn't around to stop her from posting stupid pictures of herself on the internet which were at first silly but progressively became sexual.

Pictues of Miley in a psuedo-lesbian "kiss". Miley in her bikini. Miley in a bathtub. Miley in her panties on her bed. Miley sprawling all over her boyfriend on a bed. Miley exposing her bra. Miley posing partially nude for Vanity Fair magazine in an Annie Leibovitz photo shoot right after being photographed sprawled all over her own dad.

This isn't really that difficult to figure out. Have teenager. Give them millions of dollars and a camera. Let them live unsupervised in their own wing of the house. Get pictures of them in their underwear on MySpace. Heck, take out the money and private wing and you still get pictures of them in their underwear on MySpace. All the cool kids are doing it. Add clueless parents and amoral corporations into the mix and you have a recipe for nuclear flambé. It's like watching Miley's career combust right before our eyes, and all within a scant five month period.

Do I personally care what happens to Miley Cyrus? Not really. Cynically speaking, she's just making more room up at the top. However, this is the career my sixteen year old is aspiring to. It warps people. With the news of the Vanity Fair photoshoot, I broke out in a sweat and haven't been dry for two weeks.

So I worry about this stuff. It doesn't personally affect me, but I worry nonetheless. This story represents everything I've warned my daughter about showbiz. I tell myself to put it out of my mind, but I read and read about it. I search for the story behind the story. I try to spot trends. I lecture my poor daughter about the moral ambivalence of showbiz. It's the ADHD. I'm on the eternal quest for closure.

As Hallowell and Ratey put it in their Diagnostic Criteria for ADD in Adults:

13) A tendency to worry needlessly, endlessly; tendency to scan the horizon looking for something to worry about, alternating with inattention to or disregard for actual dangers.

Now, I'm not quite that bad, but my daughter doesn't even show her face on the internet, nevermind bare her midriff or give the kids on MySpace a peep show. In the cosmic scale of things, this just isn't an issue in our lives. Here I am worrying about my ability to steer my daughter wisely into these waters, and she's not even selling records yet. But then, I wouldn't be diagnosed with ADHD if I didn't fit some of the criteria for it like ruminating and hyperfocusing. Fortunately, I can laugh at myself. Maybe now that I've written this article I can hyperfocus on something productive and useful instead, like global warming skepticism.

Coping Strategies:

  1. Go out for a walk. You need some fresh air.
  2. Write down your thoughts. I am hoping that this article will be cathartic for me and douse the fire in my brain.
  3. Don't put your kids into showbiz.


thattalldude said...

Miley seems a bit like Britney 2.0, and starting the transition at a younger age. Hilary Duff is walking a fine line with it, but thus far, wiser heads have prevailed, and she hasn't done anything stupid, yet.

Annie said...

Hi! Given your ADHD I must say you write exceptionally well. I also want to thank you for your concern for your daughter. I find it rare sometimes to hear a father expressing let alone having as much compassion and caring as you do for your daughters. You sound like a a good father and person. My son is crazy about his baby and I am proud to say he will be a dad like you! Annie

The Steveo said...

I just think that Disney should stop rearing up celebrities. Look at Britney, Justin Timberlake, and Lindsay Lohan. There are even more that I dont know, since we stopped watching the Disney channel.

These people pose as a large influence on many children's lives, which is quite scary, mostly because a lot of them make so many mistakes in their lives.

Douglas Cootey said...

thattalldude ~ You're right. Hilary has walked the fine line. She has appeared in FHM and Maxim. She's also sexed up her videos. So she's not necessarily an angel. HOWEVER, I haven't seen any photos of her that involved towels or bedsheets. Also, she waited until she was over 18 to start making her image sexier. Compared to Spears she's a veritable saint, and there were no controversies with her while she was Lizzie McGuire.

Another child star that has come out of showbiz without any stupid controversies is Mandy Moore.

Annie ~ I have worked really hard to communicate well with the written word. I cannot whip out blog posts like some other blogs do. I need to write and revise over and over until all stupid ADHD mistakes have been removed. Thank you so much for noticing my efforts.

You know, there are a lot of Dads out there who care about their girls as I do mine. The media does its best to silence our voices, however. The stupid, pervy, loser Dad is the stereotype of choice for TV, Radio, and Movies. Congratulations on raising a responsible and caring man. Thanks for commenting.

The Steveo ~ Disney isn't in the rearing business. They're in the marketing to children business. I hate to disagree with you, but the parents, IMO, are the sole culprits for the disasters that we see come out of House Disney. However, I wish that Disney added good behavior into their contracts to save these kids from themselves. ;)


Anonymous said...

I understand what you are saying about Myley Cyrus and how parents, even hers, seem to be sticking their heads in the sand when it comes to their teens having my-spaces, etc...
My son knows Myley because he is a musician in Nashville. He was on the tour in 2006 with Her, the Cheetah Girls (certainly not good role models) and another band called Everlife. He also rejoined this past January to finish the last leg of her tour and found that she had matured into an energetic 15 year old. From what he told me about her, I thought she had a good perspective about things. She didn't seem to take herself that seriously. Her family is very son knows them too and by the way my son is a Christian. He knows what the business is like and there is always going to be good mixed with bad so don't throw the baby out with the bath water. If your daughter has been raised to have good morals and values, then even if she messes up later, she will probably go back to what you have modeled and taught her as a mom.
I guess my point here is, I watched my kids like a hawk when they were growing up. They were and are great kids now young adults in their early twenties. When they were in high school, they didn't drink or me..I knew. I trusted them and they knew I believed in them but they could still be tempted by things that wouldn't be good for them. I was there to hold them accountable.
That being said, they are still wonderful kids. Are they perfect? No. But my son followed his dream of being a musician and has travelled to 48 states and two countries in the past three years. He is a wonderful young man with high standards as far as morals. My daughter is the same. They live in the guts of every temptation but they are grounded in their faith so all of that superficial stuff doesn't appeal to them.
I am a Middle School teacher and I see my students' my-spaces all of the time. The kids who are Christians have inappropriate pictures on their my-spaces and I always wonder, "Where are the parents?" Do they not know?!!

I think Myley has a good foundation in her faith. She messed up. We can pray for her that she'll learn from this experience and use her "fame" for good instead of bad.
I encourage your daughter to follow her dreams. I never wanted to squash my son's dream of being a musician because I thought the ENTIRE entertainment world was bad. It's not all bad. I am also a musician and I never sucuumbed to peer pressure. There are a lot of wonderful, great, honest, moral, musicians out there who are living their dream.
I think I just wrote a novel.

Douglas Cootey said...

Hello, Anonymous.

I don't doubt my daughter will turn out alright, but I do worry about being prepared for the worst. If I am ignorant about what lies ahead I can't prepare my daughter on how to deal with it. I only have two years before she leaves the nest and goes out on her own. Seeing so many train wrecks in the lives of young female entertainers makes me very nervous indeed.

Thanks for the kind words for the rest of the music industry. I do write a humor blog so sometimes I use hyperbole for effect. I don't think everyone in showbiz is a morally bent freak. Just most of them. ;)

Thanks for commenting.


the girl with ADHD said...

Can I just say that ADHD has nothing to do with miley or your duaghter!!!!!!!!!!! I have ADHD and you don't see me posting half and/or completly naked pictures of MY self!!!!!! And believe it OR NOT, not all teenagers are bad!!! I mean ya almost all of us get an attitude at times and we dont have very good judgment sometimes either, but some of us are pretty good kids. You cant just judge us all becuase of what one person did. And i'm not saying i support what miley did, cuz i dont. in fact i think what she did was completley and totally inexcusable. And most teenagers dont see the so called "cool kids" and think hey im gonna do just what they do so i can be cool. that's not how it works. here's my advice to you, even if you dont want it, try trusting your duaghter just a little bit more. you might be surprised to find that she really hears what you've been saying.

Douglas Cootey said...

But ADHD has EVERYTHING to do with me, dear. Didn't you read the article? It's all about how I interpreted events. I was the one overreacting. My daughter got a big kick out of the article.

I write a humor blog. I specialize in self-deprecating humor, which means I make fun of myself. I have ADHD. The "ADHD Lens" I refer to in the title of the article is my mind. I'm surprised you missed that.

However, I am heartened that other teens besides my own find Miley's behavior inexcusable. Miley is making a public appearance next week in Utah at the "Stadium of Fire". I wonder how she'll be received in straight-laced Provo, Utah. (Where we say "You're entering Utah County. Set your clock back 50 years"). A lot of people were disappointed in her. Most of them may be in that stadium. ;)

Anonymous said...

I think Miley Cyrus made a big mistake.She should remember what is right from wrong and remember she has alot of people depending on her.For example her fans.

Anonymous said...

Ithink Miley cyrus is a talented young girl.We have no bussness going into her private life.Its none of our bussness.We should worry about ourselves and whatever she does it will afect her not us.She is a big girl now and she should know right from wrong,especially when people are counting on her.DO THE RIGHT THING!!!!

Douglas Cootey said...

Two completely opposite opinions posted anonymously within 20 minutes of each other. Very fascinating.

Anon#1 ~ I agree. Miley Cyrus made a colossal mistake, but I honestly blame her parents for the photo shoot gaffe. But Miley isn't really taking full responsibility for her cell phone gaffes. She either says that the pictures are no big deal or that she's a bringer of light and needs to move on, or something like that. Her last interview was illuminating if only to show that she's a 15 year old girl at the top of a financial tidal wave that's going to ruin her if her parents don't smarten up. This, of course, is my opinion on the subject.

Anon#2 ~ Do you want me to do the right thing, or Miley? At any rate, I think the whole point of the article was that Miley's life does indeed affect us, not just her. I am a parent of children who study and watch stars like Miley. I'm fortunate that none of my children are impressed with her at the moment. For example, my nine year old is boycotting all Hannah Montana products and shows. Frankly, I've never seen my nine year old take a stand like this on anything. It warms the cockles of my heart.

Thanks for commenting. Please leave your name next time. That way we can greet you.

Anonymous said...

we all need to remember that miley Cyrus is only 15 years old and what she does at home is none of our buisness. No its not her parents fault, its her fault. I'm tired of people saying that kids everywhere uses to look up to her and how its so sad they are losing a role model... It has nothing to do with kids, just miley

Douglas Cootey said...

Hey, anonymous! Glad you could drop by to voice your opinion. In my opinion, your opinion is bunk.

If you hadn't noticed, what Miley did at home was broadcast by very own self on the internet. You know the internet? That series of tubes that connects my home with hers? Well, if she makes a picture public, I can make a public comment about it. It's really cool how free speech works, don't you agree?

You say that Miley is only 15, but you also state this mess isn't her parents fault. I guess I was under the mistaken impression that being 15 made Miley a minor and therefore the responsibility of her parents. When people look up to Li'l Miss Chastity Ring, but she flashes her undies for the world to see, I think they are allowed to be disappointed.

So, in summary. Miley Cyrus is sold to people as a bringer of light - pure and virgin and chaste. Miley Cyrus in reality is an exhibitionist. People feel deceived. People, including the kiddies, stop looking at Miley Cyrus as a role model.

Where are you folks coming from? Has the Miley Cyrus Lovers Anonymous group been passing my URL around again?


Claire said...

Now, now Douglas. Perhaps you are taking these people a BIT too personally. . . Nah. They're just fools. Miley chose a very PUBLIC job, and a very public forum to post her photos. In no way did she want it to be only her business.

As for her parents, they share responsibility as well. It is not solely theirs, but she is only 15. They need to monitor what she's doing, and who she's doing it with (I mean please, the wet t-shirt picture was NOT a self-portrait!).

As a teacher of 8 and 9 year olds, many of whom paid big money to see the Hannah Montana concert when it came through our town, I am sick about the images they are now exposed to of their hero. Unless. of course, THEIR parents take responsibility for THEIR internet use.

Perhaps their is something I can do about that one . . .Where is my classroom newsletter template?

Douglas Cootey said...

Great comment, Claire.

I wasn't taking it personally. I was just having fun with them. Maybe a BIT too much fun with them.. :)

The wet t-shirt actually did nothing to me. I mean, cough cough, it didn't anger me. Maybe I was past feeling, but it's earlier date put it in the lesbian kiss era of Miley photography so I didn't see it as a new thing to get upset about.

My 16 year old is hardly impressed with Miley, and she hasn't shown any inclination to expose herself online, but EVERY teenager will rebel in their own way. It's part of growing up. Generally, we all want to establish our independence. I just hope that I keep tight enough reigns on my daughter that she can't rebel in a way that will embarrass her as Miley has done. If all she does is argue with me and reluctantly do what I ask her to do, perhaps I should consider myself blessed. ;)


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