The low-down on low brow

By Amy Shaunette

I stopped paying attention to the Disney Channel once “Lizzie McGuire” retired from the air. As far as I was concerned, no Hilary Duff, no viewership from me. But the Disney Channel apparently didn’t need me. The children’s TV powerhouse has only gotten stronger, cranking out hits like “High School Musical” and “Hannah Montana.” Since its 2006 premiere, “Hannah Montana” has riveted the nation, attracting millions of preteen viewers. The show has inspired countless consumer products: Hannah Montana school supplies, Hannah Montana sneakers, Hannah Montana birthday party kits, Hannah Montana video games. And the “Hannah Montana” logo isn’t the shows only exportable product. Actress Miley Cyrus has established her own celebrity as a pop star, outside of Disney. We’ve got Miley the Vogue cover girl photographed nude by Annie Leibovitz, and Miley the bubblegum Disney starlet. And frankly, I just don’t understand either one.

As one of the only children’s TV programs I have failed to identify with, “Hannah Montana” basically marks the end of my youth. I find both the show and the accompanying 2008 “Hannah Montana: The Movie” to be extremely boring, devoid of both plot and likeable characters. The premise of the show is the double life of Miley Stewart (Cyrus), schoolgirl by day, pop superstar by night. Caught between their L.A. life and their Nashville roots, Miley and her manager dad (Billy Ray Cyrus, her real father and singer of “Achy Breaky Heart”) try to make “the best of both worlds,” to borrow Cyrus’s lyrics. “The Best of Both Worlds” is the show’s theme song and one of Cyrus’s major hits, and neatly sums up the whole idea behind the “Hannah Montana” empire.

Miley Cyrus the pop star, however, is clearly more concerned with the L.A. world. Born in 1992, Cyrus is a 16-year-old sex symbol, gracing women’s magazine covers monthly. The hair, the makeup, the clothes-most men would be lying if they denied an attraction to her. An illegal attraction. I believe the term is jailbait. Seductive, semi-nude cell phone photos of Cyrus have surfaced, and until recently she was dating a 20-year-old underwear model-speaking of illegal. In notorious radio interviews, Cyrus begged Radiohead to meet her, then later dissed the band after frontman Thom Yorke refused. She is slated to make a cameo appearance in the second “Sex and the City” movie, problematic considering her fans’ parents probably don’t want their children asking about a film with the word ‘sex’ in the title. Most gossip columnists are betting it’s a matter of months before Cyrus gets caught up in sex and drugs, if she’s not already there. Once upon a time, Lindsay Lohan was on the Disney Channel, too, and look how well she turned out.

In August of 2009, Cyrus released “Party in the USA,” undeniably her best song to date. Written by pop mastermind Dr. Luke, who has written for basically every successful pop singer of the past decade, “Party in the USA” tells the story of Cyrus arriving in L.A. and feeling out of place among the celebrities, the glamour, “the land of fame, excess.” Then, at a nightclub, when the DJ plays “her song,” Cyrus feels at ease; it doesn’t matter if she’s at a Nashville party or an L.A. party, she’s an American no matter what! Jokes aside, “Party in the USA” is a phenomenal pop song. Catchy music, fun lyrics, a repetitive chorus-it’s near perfection, and very good for dancing. Cyrus does a lot of said dancing in the music video, but she’s wearing very short cut-offs, displaying cleavage and shaking her booty in a way I have never been able to. Only appropriate, I guess, since in the song she’s “movin’ my hips like yeah.” The video’s setting is an All-American tailgate party, the kind where there’s a lot of beer and making out, though these things aren’t present in the video. They are, however, implied, along with Miley’s sexuality, which seems to be moving from budding to full bloom. Repeat to yourself: she’s 16, she’s 16, she’s 16, she’s..really fucking hot.

Perhaps Cyrus will find away to actually have the best of both worlds, a balance of days in the Disney studio following by nighttime clubbing. Then again, maybe she’ll collapse under the pressure to be both appealing and wholesome and make a sex tape, or get a DUI. Or, maybe she’ll follow in the footsteps of Hilary Duff, who made a few movies and really never got into any trouble. To quote “Party in the USA,” Miley Cyrus “hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardigan” and created a pop culture car wreck: I’m horrified, but I can’t look away.