I don’t know about you, but I’ve done some totally dumbfuck things in the past. I slapped a boy in the face at a birthday party who was merely being a show-off. I wore an incredibly inappropriate translucent frock to a wedding and I constantly said “oh, go on then…” when what I should have said is “actually, I must be off”. Mostly I end up clutching my head and admonishing myself for being a complete and total fucking dickhead. Once or twice I’ve needed patching up and have the scars to prove it.
Thankfully, a couple of hospital visits aside, I’ve been able to retire into a little self-forged hole, mentally tear myself a new arsehole, talk to people I trust and emerge damaged, embarrassed, but more resilient and feeling reasonably safe in the knowledge that human beings have short memories and I am not important in the whole scale of things. As everyone’s Nan’s (not just my own) would say “today’s news is tomorrow’s chip paper”. We’re all bumbling pillocks together.
This is why I feel a bit like I want to rock up to Miley Cyrus, hand her a steaming teacup of vanilla chai and a blanket and say “Let’s have a rest now, pickle”.
This morning my daughter and I watched ‘Ponyo’. It’s a Studio Ghibli film and like all of these films it is a feast of beautiful colours, high drama, fantasy and emotion. But it has the simplest of storylines: a little goldfish wants to be a human. Bear with me here…it’s tenuous, but I have a point.
The little goldfish is told that it cannot be anything other than what it is, but refuses to accept a life in the sea amongst the massive shoal of thousands of tiny goldfish, so it escapes and rises to the surface. It endures hardship, finds love, suffers loss and experiences unequalled joy before it becomes what it has always wanted to be, but was told was not possible. Throughout it all, it had the unwavering love of its (albeit pretty sea-faringly terrifying and whiffing of halibut) parents and the open arms and kindness of others.
There are thousands of little goldfish out there. All furiously flapping to become everything they want to be. A little army of fiercely determined, high-kicking, test-acing, grade-scoring, record-breaking little superstars of tomorrow. Some are precocious little shits. Some have wide range, others have cross hairs. All are working hard enough to put us adults to shame.
Whether you believe that they are single-minded in their own right or under the control of mercenary adults is rather irrelevant. Either way they are wandering into an emotional minefield that they are neither prepared for or equipped to deal with. And it all happens so fast.
Miley Cyrus is twenty years old. God forbid I tell you what I was up to in the years running up to and including twenty. Aside from the inappropriate wedding-attire, spending a whole season refusing to wear trousers, experimenting with dreadlocks and giving my parents not just the finger, but several hernias and cause to change the locks, I can now acknowledge that I was trying to understand who I was. But in order to do so, I had to shed everything that people BELIEVED I was. And this is exactly what Miley is doing.
She’s acting out her identity issues on the most public stage possible because she doesn’t know any other way. From twelve years old she’s been performing to an audience of millions. Every aspect of her life has become a performance. Why should her rebellion be any different? Or, more importantly, why should we expect it to be?
There’s always the argument that her parents should be guiding her, but have you ever tried to give strong parental advice to your child when she has more than doubled your career earnings by the age of twenty (Miley’s last reported earnings were $120m to her fathers $50m) and is surrounded by management who can only see column inches and dollar signs? Yeah, I thought not.
As a human being my first instinct is “oh fucking hell Miley, STOPPIT. No, seriously, PACKITIN. It’s not clever and you’re not doing yourself any favours”.
As a polite human being what I really want to do is just give her a hug and say “Gosh, you really went for it tonight didn’t you? Perhaps you deserve a holiday…”
Let her take the journey, grow older and wiser then admonish herself for ‘The PVC Undies and Foam Finger Incident’. Believe me, when she’s 38 she’ll do a far better job of it than anyone else ever could.