The Nation's Pulse

In Defense of Miley Cyrus

It's time to stop tearing down our children's heroes.

By 5.9.08

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The year was 1987. I was eleven years old. I remember sitting in front of the TV whether or not my homework was done. Nothing else mattered, Wise Guy was on, I would put my black gloves on just to add to the realism of the situation, and I would imagine that I too worked for some secret government organization out there to bring down the mob. To this day I can still remember the opening theme song to the A Team and part of me still wants to be a member of Swat. I was a Yankee fan but still, after watching Magnum, I always wanted to wear a Detroit tiger hat, own a Ferrari and live in Hawaii. I wanted to rid the world of injustice after watching The Equalizer. It was fantasy and I thank God for it because it was so much better than my reality.

I knew nothing of the people playing the roles nor did I care. Their only job was to entertain me and my job was to make sure I was in front of the TV when the program began. I didn't know that Ken Wahl was a mess or that Jan Michael Vincent was an alcoholic. I didn't know Tom Selleck's political views nor did I care. I knew one thing, when their shows were on my brain would shut off and I was allowed into a magical world.

It's hard these days since we are no longer allowed our heroes. The second someone has that status we destroy them. No longer can children watch a show and just dream of becoming a singer; they now also have to think about the fact that their hero is a fake and somehow she isn't who they thought she was. Last week, as Mileygate broke out, you would have thought that this girl did a porno or was caught using drugs. From the reaction you would have thought that someone would want to brand her with "The Scarlet Letter" and conduct a public stoning.

Sadly it's not the children that can't differentiate fantasy from reality, but it's the parents out there. Heroes that walk among us make mistakes. It's what makes them heroes. It's how they walk through difficulty that defines their character. We love to live in yesteryear and dream of the good old days, but I have seen the good old days in movies and, I'm sorry to shatter the image, but they weren't that much cleaner. I've seen clips of Woodstock, heard rumors about Joltin' Joe DiMaggio, and I've even heard that some presidents have cheated on their wives. I've seen the skirts of the '60s and they look a lot shorter than the ones today.

Every week millions of people watch American Idol and they fantasize about being onstage and being a famous Rock Star. We have to stop killing people's fantasies and dreams. We all make mistakes: "to err is human; to forgive divine." So what if this fifteen-year-old kid took a few racy pictures? I have a news flash for you. She is going to make many more mistakes along the way. I hope that is okay with you and that you can handle it.

I have never seen an episode of Hannah Montana or heard a Miley Cyrus song, but from response to the story that people have had, I gather that she has a lot of talent. Instead of relishing her fall, let's relish her growth; instead of knocking her down why not build her up? Isn't that the real message that we want to send to our youth? If you're scared about what type of message this will send to your kids why not sit down and talk to them and listen to what they have to say about the subject? Why not say to them that you love them no matter what, and you know that they are going to make mistakes but that is their job? Why not say, did you see how well Miley has handled the situation, how she has walked through it with dignity and grace. After all, that is what true heroes do?

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About the Author

Judah Friedman is a writer in Los Angeles.