Perhaps I'm dating myself here, but does it strike anyone else as perverse that Bruce Springsteen – the Boss – was recently outpaced in concert ticket sales by child star Miley Cyrus? In fact, scalpers are fetching upward of $1,000 for tickets to see Miley onstage.
This should come as no surprise to me. I live with a 10-year-old daughter who has followed the "Hannah Montana" star's meteoric rise to fame since Disney propelled young Miley into the stratosphere of tween celebrity.
"Hannah Montana" is on TV so much around here, I've decided there are more episodes of this hit sitcom than there were of the classic show "M*A*S*H." If you recall, there were approximately 7 billion of those.
Those of you residing in caves may not have heard that "Hannah Montana" features Miley Cyrus and her father, erstwhile country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, in the role of Miley's TV father.
Miley plays a "normal" middle schooler who also happens to be Hannah Montana, a worldwide singing sensation (in disguise). Billy Ray's role is one perfected on Disney and other children's channels – the goofy, lovable but somewhat inept parent who occasionally provides wise counsel between bumbling, comic foibles.
Mr. Cyrus is not new to fame as an entertainer. Even if you live in a cave, you'll recall that he was the one-hit wonder who gave us "Achy Breaky Heart" – and the mullet.
Now with a slightly more studied haircut (something akin to "intentionally messy") Mr. Cyrus is a cool middle-aged guy whose rapport with his daughter during her Disney audition apparently was so convincing, the producers asked him to play the role of his daughter's father on TV.
Here's the rub: After reading a feature article about Mr. Cyrus, I'm wishing he was more interested in playing the role of Miley's father in real life. Instead, he apparently sees himself as Miley's "best friend."
Isn't that special? Dad and daughter. BFFs. (Best friends forever).
Sharing secrets. Shopping for new jeans together. Sending text messages between takes on their hit show.
Billy Ray and Miley. Miley and Billy Ray.
It's enough to make you gag.
Actually, it's not that bad. In the interview I read with Mr. Cyrus, he seems like a man who is deeply committed to his wife and children. In fact, I gather one reason he's so pleased about being cast as the father on "Hannah Montana" is that he can supervise his daughter while she does her job.
Mr. Cyrus speaks freely about his abiding faith and the strong sense of family he hopes will support Miley now that she's an international celebrity.
He's using his own experience as a successful country/pop star and working entertainer to guide and direct his daughter.
I don't really believe Mr. Cyrus wants to play the role of Miley's BFF. I just wish that when he had the chance to say so, he had made a stronger statement about the part that only he can play (and apparently the casting folks at Disney agree) – that of a father.
Too many parents are listing about looking for a way to relate to their children, seeking the role of "best friend" – albeit the best friend with car keys and credit cards.
Here's a celebrity dad — by all accounts a darn good one — shortchanging himself by describing his role as something trivial and replaceable.
Best friends come and go. Anyone with a daughter knows they can come and go over the course of an afternoon. Our culture seems to put a premium on this role as if it's somehow remarkable.
Mr. Cyrus, don't reduce the crucial and unique role you play to that of an "uberconfidante." Instead, use your fame to speak out for fathers everywhere who do what you're doing, sans the celebrity (and the hair).