Miley Cyrus just threw Hannah Montana under the bus.
Hannah Montana, of course, was the famous character who rocketed young Miley into the stratosphere of superstardom. The Disney Channel series of the same name aired from 2006 to 2010. It spawned a concert tour (Best of Both Worlds) and a concert-tour movie (Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert) as well as a feature film (the not-so-cleverly titled Hannah Montana: The Movie.) And there were associated soundtracks too.
At peak Hannah mania in 2008, some estimated that the franchise was worth a cool billion. And by the time the franchise, in all its iterations, ran its incredibly lucrative course, I think it’s safe to say that Hannah Montana fatigue had begun to set in. That perhaps was most true for the series’ star herself.
Miley, now 24, recently offered some perspective on playing the dual role of Hannah Montana and her alter ego, Miley Stewart. She critiqued the effect of playing these semi-fictional, semi-autobiographic characters, which she began portraying at the tender age of 11.
In some ways, she had a blast. “I loved being that character,” she said in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning. “That’s what made people love her.”
But there was a darker side, too.
I got to wear a wig, and that was awesome; I got to wear a lot of sparkly things, so that was cool. I think, now that I’m older, I realize, that’s a lot to put on a kid. It’s a lot to put on a kid to have them have to get their makeup done, and then also balance school, and then also have me dress up in a wig, as a kid, is a little weird. It’s a little Toddlers & Tiaras.
Elsewhere in the interview, she said that the boundaries between her and her characters began to blur during the Best of Both Worlds concert tour. “I think that’s probably what’s a little bit wrong with me now. I mark that up to doing some extreme damage in my psyche as an adult person.”
In a world where many young people today want to be famous more than anything, Miley’s cautionary note here is good to remember: Fame comes with a price. And that price is often one that the children paying it can’t even comprehend until they get older. Extreme damage in my psyche, Miley says of it.
We’ve often critiqued Miley Cyrus’s post-Hannah Montana decisions, especially when she’s gone to great lengths to take a literal and metaphorical “Wrecking Ball” (even infamously riding one naked in the video for that song) to the wholesome image she and Disney cultivated in her early years of fame. Obviously, many of those choices were deeply problematic.
But now even Miley recognizes that those decisions were influenced in part out of the extraordinary pressure placed on her to shoulder a billion-dollar franchise—a burden that can’t be carried without doing significant collateral damage to the child carrying it.