Sunday, July 11, 2010

Miley, We Hardly Knew Ye (a.k.a. Who'da Thunk Girls Had Any Critical Bones in Their Bodies?)

As I pointed out a couple of years ago in one of my earliest blog posts, The New York Times has a particular fixation with stories about tween and teen girls, particularly their media preferences, and you can see this by the fact that I have yet another Times piece to point out.* Today's is a front-page Sunday Styles story about Miley Cyrus, known to many as Hannah Montana, a 17-year-old pop singer/actress who apparently is no longer worshiped by many of her once loyal tween and younger female fans because of her recent bouts of sexiness and strippery-ness (lap dancing, pole dancing, etc., etc.). The gist of the piece is she's sold fewer records in the young girl demographic and while several of the girls interviewed for the piece are put off by the new Miley, their moms are kind of like, "Giver her a break. She's almost 18." I loved the tone of the piece in general -- and again, actually interviewing her fans and former fans -- partly because of the journalist's assumption that the girls would not be so shocked or critical of this change in their idol. I was trying to remember my teen idols from fourth and fifth grade and thinking about whether this was indeed a new phenomenon, and immediately, Michael Jackson came to mind (I was also into Prince and Madonna, who were pretty much the opposite of a corporate image of wholesomeness). As soon as he started getting creepily weird -- which I think happened sometime during the reign of "Thriller" -- the posters came off my wall. Bottom line: Girls actually are critical consumers when given the education and opportunity. Don't sell them short.

And here's the story. I'd be interested if your take was the same as mine:

Fans of Miley Cyrus Question Her New Path

*I imagine that many of the Times' section editors and reporters probably have teen and tween girls as daughters or nieces and find their tastes and insights as fascinating as I do. That, or maybe they think their readers are primarily alarmed parents of teen and tween girls and this is a demographic consideration. Could be both.

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