People are always trying to prove that “stars are just like us.” They go grocery shopping. They get stuck in traffic. They have cavities. They get constipated. And the teens — well, they always seem to get into tiffs with their parents. Just like you did when you were 17…except when you skipped curfew and threatened to move out of the house before graduation, there weren’t millions of dollars on the line, let alone TMZ cameras at your court hearing.
In this month’s issue of GQ, Billy Ray Cyrus waxes heavily on his currently aching, breaking heart. The pain is mostly due to a slew of family issues revolving around Tish and Miley, his soon-to-be ex-wife and problem child daughter, respectively. He sounds like any dad, really — unaware that his kid was doing softcore drugs, attempting to defend her every move. But when he proclaims, “I’ve never made a dime off of Miley. You got a lot of people have made percentages off of her. I’m proud to say to this day I’ve never made one commissioned dollar, or dime, off of my daughter,” you start to realize these aren’t ordinary growing pains.
Billy Ray and Miley are hardly the first in high profile parent/child conflicts (hereby referred to as “parent traps”). Britney Spears and Mama Lynn were hot in the spotlight back in the early 2000s. Brit was dancing on the Disney Channel and Lynn was an elementary school teacher in rural Louisiana, until Brit recorded a full-length album and put on that damn school girl uniform. Naturally, fame and fortune followed. Lynn wrote a book about her daughter and shortly after, divorced her husband. Was it maternal instinct to try to “set the story straight” about Britney, or did Lynn just want her own taste of pop stardom?
Good ol’ Dina Lohan routed her own coattail fame a little differently. A self-touting “television personality,” Mrs. Lohan hit a new low when she started capitalizing on Lindsay’s issues to further her own fame. Did the 2008 E! reality series “Living Lohan” do anything for her reputation? Absolutely not. She was shunned for being stage mom to lil’ Lohan (Ali) and even went so far to blame Lindsay’s problems on…Lindsay.
“Lindsay’s 21 years old. It’s not a blame game. It’s not my fault nor her friends’ fault. It’s the personal choices you make. And you have to be careful about what you do when you’re in the public eye,” Dina said in 2008. What’s more motherly: forcing your child to own up to their mistakes in the public eye, or being there when she needs you most?
Father Michael Lohan wasn’t any better. Assault, DUIs and prison all preceded the Lohan divorce that was finalized in 2007, making him anything but a proper male role model. LiLo had no clue she was destined for a real-life parent trap when she landed the lead role in the 1998 movie of the same name, the start of her career.
Little Aaron Carter (who is 23 now, by the way), went though his own divorce — from his mother, in 2003. The 16-year-old filed for legal emancipation from his mom after she allegedly took more than $100,000 from his bank account without his permission. “I really don’t like being around her. All I hear is ‘You need to go on television and make me look better.’ I just think, ‘Just be my mother,’ ” Carter told People Magazine in 2004.
Though Carter attempted to sever all professional and personal ties, the two later resolved the issue on their own. Still, it all sounds like a meta-publicity stunt. Complain about your mother who wants more press…to get more press. Notice the reconciliation happened just after Carter came down from his brief pop music fame.
Granted, the Cyrus showdown draws little comparison to the House of Carters, Spears or Lohans. Billy Ray never wanted any of Miley’s money, did he? When asked in the GQ interview if he wished “Hannah Montana” never happened, he said, “I hate to say it, but yes, I do. Yeah. I’d take it back in a second. For my family to be here…safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”
So, maybe we should be looking at Miley to pull things together. Maybe Billy Ray’s heart is justifiably achy-breaky.
Allison Berger is a Philadelphia-based writer and a Pop music columnist for Reverb. Check out more of her writing here.