When Hannah Montana does a Britney Spears - A conservative Asian perspective

WE HAVE SEEN it before. Disney child stars with squeaky-clean image gone bad. The latest Disney diva – after Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan – to test the slippery slope is Miley Cyrus, the star of the Hannah Montana TV series. She’s a singing sensation and idol to millions of adoring adolescents.

So, what do you tell your teen or tween when Ms. Montana a.k.a Miley commits foolish grown-up acts too early? Skin-baring photos leaked on the Internet and the sexually provocative photo spread in Vanity Fair have tainted Miley’s otherwise wholesome image.

While these may be trivial by Hollywood standards, they are not when a 15-year-old holds sway over adolescent emotions. Many may argue teens today already have easy access to pornography and are more sexually aware than pre-Internet-era teens. But deciding premature sex is folly, and accepting it as a lifestyle choice are two entirely different propositions. Parents must step in to stem moral decline. Yet, Miley’s responses to the controversies have restored faith in her status as a teen role model, at least for now.

Hate the sin, love the sinner
Miley responds to the Vanity Fair photos in a Billboard interview: "I was embarrassed but also it's like, every career thing that I do can't be perfect, and sometimes my decisions are wrong. I think that just makes me even more relatable." The star wants to remain a virgin until marriage. Miley’s statement in TV Guide, regardless of whether she can keep her promise, sets the right moral tone. "I like to think of myself as the girl that no one can get, that no one can keep in their hand. Even at my age, a lot of girls are starting to fall and I think if [abstaining] is a commitment girls make, that’s great.” She wears a purity ring as a symbol of the promise she made to herself and her family.

Glamour and reality
Hannah Montana represents the glamour and fame that every teen dreams to have. However, behind the glamour, Miley Cyrus the actor has to endure hard work and hardship. Despite her tender age, she faces enormous work pressures. In both the reel and real version, success robs Miley of a normal life. The paparazzi and fans invade her privacy, the former ready to pounce on her every mistake. Peer influence and intense rivalry wreak havoc in her life. The real Miley also faces demands for sex appeal and pressure to conform.

A star in every child
Clearly, Hannah Montana is a less-than-ideal moral compass. But teen idols can be leveraged as the creative force that turns your teen into possibility thinkers. With guidance and mentoring from you the parent, what Hannah achieves on TV can be the trigger for unleashing your teen’s own audacious ideas and true calling.

Questions to discuss with your teen:
  • What has Miley done wrong? How would she be harmed by her actions?
  • Should Miley be forgiven? What has her experience taught you?
  • Would you like to follow Miley’s commitment to stay chaste before marriage? How would you stay committed?
  • What pressures do you currently face in school, at home or among friends?
  • If you, like Miley, could transform yourself into someone extraordinary, who would you become?