Impact of the Industry: Miley Cyrus

Over the past few years the celebrity gossip and scandal stories have been majorly dominated by one woman in particular… Miley Cyrus. She was previously a young and innocent face on Disney Channel but over the past three years or so, her name has popped up frequently and with her already celebrity status family such as Billy-Ray Cyrus (father) and Dolly Parton (God mother) it’s no surprise that the media has had a major impact on the life of this star.

In 2006, Miley (aged 13) became a teen idol as she became Hannah Montana. This popular TV series had dark consequences for such a young star. We are well aware that the industry plays on our insecurities in order to make a profit and although we get more focus of this issue on adults, there doesn’t seem to be any limits on how the industry treat the children who are shown in the media. Miley and Billy-Ray opened up to The Daily Mail where Miley spoke about how the role of Hannah gave her ‘body image issues’ as she was told who she had to be. She was told she needed ‘to be blonde’, have ‘long hair’ and to wear a tight glittery outfit. Billy-Ray spoke about how she would be on set twelve hours a day, getting coffee ‘jammed down her throat to keep her up and moving.’ There is no denying that the damage done by the industry began early, which makes us question how many stars from our childhood have had this struggle.

Miley then went on to star in the heart-string-tugging film, The Last Song (Julie Anne Robinson, 2010) where she met Liam Hemsworth. According to many online sources the relationship between Miley and Liam was a rocky one but the were engaged when Miley was nineteen. It was during her relationship with Liam when the controversy began and the most notable event of this would be her VMA performance in 2013 when she “twerked” on Robin Thicke. This was her initial break-out from her good girl, Disney Channel image. Miley claims that she was trying to ‘make history’ and years later it is still a controversial topic. Due to this event, the word “twerk” has been added to the dictionary and a song titled “Twerk It Like Miley” by Brandon Beal was released. Miley knows how to get herself noticed. Unfortunately, Miley’s fiancé at the time, Liam was reportedly “mortified” by the performance and shortly after the couple split.

The split lead to more controversy as the music video for Wrecking Ball was released. The song itself was said to be about the split from Liam due to the lyrics. Miley also appeared to be using the video as an art-form to show how she was truly feeling about the split. The close up shots of the tears cooperating with the exposure of Miley’s naked body gives off the message that she feels exposed at such an emotionally weak point in her life. It could also represent how overly exposed the break-up was in the media – even before it was confirmed.

After the Wrecking Ball video there was more speculation about the stars behaviour that raised many questions from interviewers. Miley appeared on Barbara Walter’s Most Fascinating People back in 2008 as the Hannah Montana girl who was all sweet and innocent but in 2013 she reappeared as a transformed woman. In the interview she was openly asked about why she sticks her tongue out a lot, she admitted that she “gets embarrassed to take pictures” which could be related to some form of anxiety issue relating to her issues about self-image that she has kept with her from her days on the set of Hannah Montana. The most surprising answer in the interview was to the question about if she always wants to be naked. She openly states the industry’s involvement in her change in style. “I don’t always want to be naked, once I came out on stage – I came out in a full Marc Jacobs dress – completely covered and the wrote – ‘Miley is boring, she doesn’t get naked and she’s boring.’ No matter what I do, I’m either boring or I’m a slut.” This shows the domination the media has over stars as words that get published could ruin a career. Stars have to adapt to please the public after press have implanted an idea for what the public to want to see – simply to gain an audience.

“I don’t always want to be naked, once I came out on stage – I came out in a full Marc Jacobs dress – completely covered and the wrote – ‘Miley is boring, she doesn’t get naked and she’s boring.’ No matter what I do, I’m either boring or I’m a slut.” – Miley Cyrus

Instagram took on a massive role as accusations about Miley’s drug use began to circulate across news and social media. This was due to the photos she had been posting on the app – one even featured a ‘bong’ on the table in front of her. This circulation was not just caused by her, social media had circulated pictures of the star that were taken by paparazzi, many users commented about the look in her eyes and her tongue hanging out even though the whole “tongue thing” is a separate issue. Miley was open about the subject, stating that she was raised to think that it was ‘not that bad.’ It would seem that the industry did not turn her to drug use.

Even in 2015, her name hit the headlines as she was chosen to present the VMA’s. She joked and told her fans that it was because they didn’t want her to perform after the controversy of 2013’s VMA’s. This wasn’t why her name caught attention though. She was called out for some comments she had made to the press about Nicki Minaj’s ‘Twitter beef’ with Taylor Swift over award nominations. Nicki was on stage to receive her award for Best Hip Hop Video when she called out Miley, asking her ‘What’s good?’ Miley’s response went viral in hours as she said: “Hey, we are all in this industry, we all do interviews and we all know how they manipulate. Congratulations Nicki.” This response states that the press manipulate celebrities into saying things they didn’t intend to say in the soul intention to get a story out of people. It is still questioned as to whether the whole confrontation was scripted for entertainment purposes.

Miley may dominate the scandal sections of all areas of all areas of media but she is open about the impact a life in the industry has had on her. It is no shock that she causes controversy to get the public talking about her music, it certainly is an effective method but the shock comes from Disney’s impact on her childhood. Where does the industry draw the line on child welfare?


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