A few weeks after Miley Cyrus performed a now notorious pole dance during the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, her father has weighed in on the flood of negative reactions to the dance. According to Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley was just doing what she loves: entertaining.
Admittedly, the ‘pole dance’ wasn’t so much a dance as it was a shimmy. (In case you were lucky enough to miss the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, you can check out a video of Miley’s performance below.) But seeing it performed by a 16-year-old in tiny shorts and heels during a show whose main viewers were undoubtedly tween girls–for whom Hannah Montana is ostensibly a role model–does not exactly make one feel stellar about the messages pop culture sends young girls.
The thing that gets me is that she performed the dance on an ice cream truck with a pole attached to it. Using a classic symbol of innocence and childhood for an unarguably sexual stunt is both calculating (it’s okay; I’m still a kid!) and disturbing (kids can be sexy, too!). But I’m certainly not faulting Cyrus for the act, since she is, after all, just a kid.
Which is exactly why it disturbs me that her caretakers seem none too bothered by Miley’s blatant displays of sexual provocation.
Billy Ray Cyrus told Access Hollywood, “You know what? I just think that Miley loves entertaining people. She loves singing [and] songwriting. I always tell her to love what you’re doing and stay focused for the love of the art and not worry so much about opinion.”
Taken out of context, his remarks seem like great parental advice: do what you love and don’t worry about being judged by others.
But as Salon points out, what Miley Cyrus apparently loves to do–or at least what she knows will “entertain” others–is not exactly the surest path to happiness for young women. As Tracy Clark-Flory puts it, “Looks like her managers are following the Britney Spears sexy-virgin path to success — or self-destruction, depending on your perspective.”
If Miley is really doing this for the music, she doesn’t need the pole or the stilettos.