As Miley Cyrus contemplates her disappointing “Can’t Be Tamed” album sales and absorbs response to her latest stream of “Let Me Prove to You I’m a Grownup” antics – lap dancing with a director, vamping it up in tarty outfits on stage – we can’t help but compare her journey to those of so many Disney darlings before her.
What is it about crashing a sweet, virginal image to smithereens that makes it so inviting?
Of course, Britney Spears leaps to mind. Miley has made it clear she’s a huge fan of the 28-year-old superstar whose rollercoaster life has provided careers for tabloid writers and bloggers and paparazzi since 1999, when the former Mousketeer caused a stir with a Rolling Stone magazine cover in which she appeared lying on her bed clad in shorts, bra, and open top. The American Family Association called for a boycott of stores selling her albums. Shades of Miley’s Vanity Fair Lolita-esque photo brouhaha.
Christina Aguilera, Britney’s fellow former Mousketeer, traded in her girl-next-door wholesomeness for piercings, a neck tattoo, and a string of raunchy songs and videos.
Older audience members remember original Mousketeer Doreen Tracy, who posed for the men’s magazine Gallery wearing her Mousketeer ears and not much else, and who came out with a book, “Confessions of a Mouseketeer.”
Sadly, there is the train wreck that is once-promising Disney movie star Lindsay Lohan.
Somehow, “Princess Diaries” star Anne Hathaway managed to transition to adulthood in such a deft and sophisticated way, her audience accepted her doing nudity in movies and handling exceptionally gritty material – as in her Oscar-nominated turn in “Rachel Getting Married” – with little turmoil
Which is more than can be said for Hathaway’s onscreen grandma, the Queen of Genovia herself, the great Julie Andrews. Globally adored after successes including “Mary Poppins” and “The Sound of Music,” she was delighted when her husband, Blake Edwards, put her in his 1981 satire “S.O.B.” as a goody-goody actress who makes a musical that flops and is then re-shot as a pornographic film.
“Mary Poppins Goes Topless” screamed headlines. It created a furor at the time, but was eventually granted grudging acceptance. Sure, she did it – but we’d rather watch the movies that have our Julie practically perfect in every way.