Miley Cyrus and the Disney Privilege

Disney Privilege

Miley Cyrus is the newest tween to adult reinvention we’ve seen in music. Before we had the likes of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, to name a few.

All three have made a point to separate themselves from their squeaky clean Disney background to show us that 1) they are now old enough to have sex and 2) yes, in fact they know how to do it.

Sex is one way to show the transition from youth to adulthood. It doesn’t help that we have the slogan in marketing “Sex sells.”

Even in the male realm we have Justin Timberlake who brought “Sexy Back” after his Disney stint (Mickey Mouse Club) and boy-band Nsync and even Puerto Rico super boy-band Menudo, Ricky Martin who let us know that “She Bangs.”

This transition is nothing new and there will be more as time goes on.

Personally, I’ve come to expect it. It doesn’t shock me anymore. What I see is women who have been protected from the normal world where 1 in 4 women are sexually assaulted And 86% of students report an eating disorder by the age of 20.

Many of the Disney family (Britney, Christina and Justin were on The Mickey Mouse Club, Miley had the Hannah Montana franchise) had on-set schooling. They always had people around them, publicists, managers, trainers, bodyguards etc. From a young age they were in a small percentage of society that have been “protected.”

One example of being out of that Disney Privilege is Demi Lovato (star of Disney’s Camp Rock) who when she returned to school she was bullied and called “fat” and then struggled with eating disorders. She has been very open with her struggles. 

Demi Lovado and Miley Cyrus are the same age, both will be 21 this year. They are both grown women and capable for their own choices.

A great cross example of being in and out of Disney Privilege can been seen in the choices for re-branding Miley’s video “We Can Do What We Want” and Demi’s Video “Heart Attack” released in April. 

When it comes to music videos and performances on the VMA’s it’s all about choice and creating a buzz. MTV posted “Miley Cyrus Promises ‘Crazier’ moment than Britney-Madonna Kiss” She knew what she was doing and it did get us talking. Again in marketing “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”

Try as you might. You can’t blame Miley, MTV, Disney, Hannah Montana, Robin Thicke. No one forced that performance. This was a perfect storm of 1) a woman who feels empowered in her own body 2) is following her predecessors (Madonna, Cher, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera), 3) A TV network hungry for ratings with a record for pulling these hyper-sexualized stunts 4) and a public who will not ignore it no matter if it’s degrading, insulting, and targeted to teen viewers.

Disney Privilege is not a bad thing, it’s a way of being able to see that some artists that come out of the incubation have not yet seen some of the same stresses, pressures and pitfalls that the average women and girl has. They are the minority.


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