The media's focus on Miley's behavior is keeping important lesser-known stories from being told

Miley Cyrus and the Media Wrecking BallHas Syria avoided a wrecking ball? If you weren’t old enough to drink, but you were worth more than $100 Million(US) in 2013, would digital streaking for profit sound like fun? Does the real life dad of Miley Cyrus think different than the dad he played on television? Can consumers and the media focus on anything besides an ex-Disney Princess finally growing up?

What’s more tasteless, the starlet wearing the skimpy outfit or the media corporation marketing itself by distributing photographs of it? What about me? To what extent am I exploiting Ms. Miley Cyrus and her image by covering the topic? I would probably prefer to write about the evidence of possible faults within supply-side theory or cogency with respect to Keynesian Theory. What?  Yeah, exactly. Miley Cyrus gets attention from the pubic – excuse me – public and from those who write about her.

Entertainment Tonight recently posted that “Miley Cyrus’ latest music video for Wrecking Ball — in which she rides a wrecking ball naked, licks a sledgehammer and rolls around in her underwear is unsurprisingly causing controversy, but according to her famous father Billy Ray Cyrus, her clothing, or lack thereof is beside the point.”

ET goes on to exclusively quote him as saying, “It wouldn’t have mattered if Miley would have worn jeans and a flannel shirt, a tux or a nun’s habit. The song’s a smash and her performance vocally on the tune reflects her roots and sheer God given talent.”

Here I am telling the story third hand while pretending to be repulsed. When asked as a staff writer for a story, my subconscious said to itself, “I don’t want to write about Miley Cyrus.” Trust me, I didn’t. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to write anything, but what would have been the purpose of writing anything at all last week when Hannah Montana’s butt was the big story?

In “Syria vs. Cyrus” on September 8th of this year, Huff Post’s Amber Boydstun and Matthew A. Baum reported that Miley Cyrus is getting way more media attention than Syria.

According to LexisNexis, TV news – specifically, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and NBC had a somewhat lower Syria-to-Cyrus ratio of about 3 to 1 (351 vs. 112 stories), while major newspapers — New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post had a much higher ratio of about 11 to 1 (252 vs. 23 stories). These outlets varied widely in their coverage, and there clearly was no shortage of news about Cyrus’s derriere.

Miley Cyrus and SyriaMaybe there are other things about which one might write, but who’s going to read? Could I produce a topic more sensational than a salacious video music award performance by a former real life Disney Princess who has now become the Queen of Short Shorts? Who would read it?

The public that isn’t literally focused on Miley’s booty is reading about the crisis abroad and the potential for US involvement. I’m safer if, or rather my article is more marketable if it also announces and discusses that her new video “in which she rides a wrecking ball naked, licks a sledgehammer and rolls around in her underwear — is unsurprisingly causing controversy.” 

Could I be brave enough to attempt to scratch the surface of the many topics I’d like to write about even if they could be seen as far more incendiary than discussing what I’d call a former quasi-Mouskateer growing up? I’m not describing any of “Grown-Ass” Miley’s behavior as “maturing”, but she’s certainly growing up physically. I guess the evolution of her sexuality is a story, but we as a public aren’t as well served as we might be if more media attention were given to Arctic ice reduction or the missing kids and teens that my social media contacts keep posting.

What about “Idle No More” or the Keystone pipeline? They don’t get a lot of coverage. What’s my evidence? First comes Miley then comes Syria. For now, here’s other angles about the pipeline story besides, “Idle No More” and a story being “Not even a close third to Miley’s rump.”

A June article in Climate Progress, written by Kiley Kroh quotes James Ahnassay, chief of the Dene Tha as saying “Every plant and tree died” in a spill in northern Alberta and that it  is “one of the largest recent environmental disasters in North America.” Also in June, Neela Banerjee included in a LA Times column that a 2011 report “underestimated the size of potential spills.” Just last week, Matt Daily wrote an article in Politico about the Center for Biological Diversity’s video animation of spills, illnesses and fatalities due to “every significant oil, gas and chemical pipeline spill in the U.S. since 1986.

Shouldn’t voting rights issues in the United States be given a headline? What about Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America director Kim Russell and their “Skip Starbucks Saturday” campaign?

There are many worthwhile topics besides Miley’s wardrobe and new video being used by major media outlets as a smokescreen for oil spill nastiness, arctic ice melting, oh yes and parents’ reaction to inaction on gun violence. Meanwhile, the drumbeat to a cancelled or postponed war is beaten by chicken-hawk-pundit friends of the defense lobby. Perhaps an avalanche of articles covering more useful topics would be written if more people were reading them.

For my punishment, I guess I’ll go watch and share “Wrecking Ball.” Maybe I’ll become a fan. Is there a term for Miley’s crew like Justin Beiber’s “Beliebers” in his following? Should we refer to her fans as “Short-Short Shorties” or simply as “Miley’s Smilies?”


Doogie Howitzer is an American columnist whose guiding philosophy is, "unfund the military and build teaching hospitals." He has evolved from cynic to critic. Despite being convinced at some point that the whole world was going to heck in a handbasket, he decided that it might be worth saving. Clean air and water should be seen as guaranteed promises to all creatures on the face of the earth, not just those who can afford a place to live near such.


  1. This is my first and last comment about the” trash” that people remark “oh she just growing up”. What is the world saying about this, I would say thatTHEY ARE ARE SAYING AMERICA THEIR YOUNG ARE STUPID AND WE DON’T HAVE A THING TO WORRY ABOUT IN THE FUTURE WITH THEM IN CHARGE”.

  2. Yeah. That was dumb. The video, I mean. Dumb. Kinda sexy, sure…. but dumb.

    Article’s right on… but if it weren’t her, if it weren’t this, it would be something else. The last thing the media wants to do is air its sponsors and owners dirty laundry. That’s why I really don’t watch that crap. Democracy Now! baby!!!

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