Nude strip singer Miley Ray Cyrus is being dropped by teen and tween fans. Via The Guardian: ‘Who’s your celebrity role model these days?’ I asked my 11-year-old daughter, Alice, the other night. She thought for a moment. ‘Um, Taylor Swift?’ she answered unenthusiastically. ‘Oh, really? Why’s that?’ I asked.
‘Because she’s not crazy.’ The bar for tween role models these days sits at ‘not crazy’. Could it be any lower? But prepare to be impressed. If you think Hollywood is ruthless when it comes to jettisoning celebrities, today’s girls (and probably boys as well) are even quicker to show no mercy.
In addition to Alice, I have a 16-year-old, Molly. And in conversations with both of them over the past few days, I realized that showbiz is not where they go for examples on how to live their lives. Miley Cyrus, who both my daughters watched for what felt like decades of their youth, and whose autograph they were once lucky enough to score, is now finished.
It’s not that girls disapprove of her, it’s just that they’re unimpressed. They’re over it. Yes, Molly and I had the twerking conversation last month. But in a typical summer, we’ve also had conversations about Cory Monteith’s death and Amanda Bynes’ mental breakdown. Kids see these tragic events at one remove, as if happening to the characters the actors play rather than real people.
Alice came home the other day with the news that Zac Efron was now in rehab “for alcohol abuse” (it was actual drugs). Obviously, this is not the headline you want to be discussing with your child. But Alice and her posse had already moved on. No time for the bad boy. They’d already jettisoned Amanda Seyfried too. Why?
“She’s a mean person,” came the 6th grade verdict. “She has a curse word tattooed on herself.” Katy Perry is still all right because she “seems to be a good person” (ie she came across well in her recent documentary). She got much sympathy from the kids when she cried at being left by Russell Brand. But feeling sorry for someone is not the same as admiring her. How deep is their love for her? Put it this way, the Katy Perry Halloween costume is being easily outsold this year by the Whoopee Cushion.
Lady Gaga is way too out there for them, even though she went to school at The Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City, where we live. They like her music, but her clothes are just too weird. Never underestimate the conventionality of an adolescent peer group.
The older teens are keen to see Demi Lovato re-invent herself this season on Glee. They liked her in Camp Rock and think Glee needs a shot in the arm anyway. Yes, she’s been to rehab, but hasn’t everyone on TV? The characters of Girls are of no interest to the teens. They don’t watch the show and barely know who Lena Dunham is.
On the other hand, they love Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler and Melissa McCarthy. They watch New Girl rapturously. But they know the difference between actresses who make them laugh and characters they want to emulate. You can see the difference in their response to the show, Dance Moms.
Both my girls LOVE the kids from Dance Moms. (Although, “NOT the moms,” Alice was keen to point out.) Alice spent the summer watching every show she could about children dancing professionally or competitively. She loved their passion and dedication. She felt for them when they failed and cheered when they won.
For three months she practiced twirling on the beach and in the garden. This November she’s finally plucked up the courage to try out for the middle school musical, which is a big deal for a shy girl. This development made me remember last year, when Olympic champion Gabby Douglas was all the rage, and Alice did nonstop cartwheels and handstands everywhere she could. That’s are the kind of role model you want for your girls.