Thursday, September 18, 2008

What is it about that girl?

You know who I'm talking about.

Hannah Montana. I'd say she qualifies as "popular culture" right now. What is it that makes people go crazy over her? Why must her face be plastered on EVERY OTHER THING in Wal-Mart? I'm serious, people, she's everywhere. And the only reason is because of her father! She sings okay, but not enough to have her face on everything! Okay...before this turns into a rant, let's get started....

Why is she so popular? I asked myself this profound (sure, Brynna) question while stocking some of her wigs/purses/jeans/skirts the other night at good ol' Wally World.

And I think I know the answer. Well, at least part of it anyway.

The whole premise behind the Hannah Montana show is that Miley Cyrus has this "secret star life" where she's this great singer. I've never actually seen the show myself, but I know the basics. No one knows she's Hannah. She's just Miley at home.

And that's the beauty of the idea. That's why it works so well. That's why girls from -9 to 15 love her.

She has a secret life. Where she's this famous person. Who wouldn't want that? In every girl's mind, she wants to have a secret life like Miley Cyrus. Where they are famous and loved. Instead of the same old stuff everyday.

But a deeper thing is also in Hannah Montana. I know, I just used the word "deep" to describe a part of a show on the Disney Anyway, the deeper thing is this.

Almost everyone has a secret life. The stuff you don't tell anyone. The stuff you want to keep to yourself because you're either embarrassed about or people won't understand why you like to do certain things (mundanes anyone?). So, Hannah relates to the teens who have that "secret" lifestyle.

What do you guys think?


alex-ness said...

All I know is my son thinks she sucks. Now, I realize he is 9 years old and male, but that is his opinion.

But I think you got it Brynna, we can see our own secret wishes in her success. Peel back the label on most males and they are handsome, muscular, and can fly, and are popular with the women.

Derek Handley said...

Indeed. Neil Gaiman took this as a theme for the "Sandman" story arc, "A Game of You". Boys and girls all have secret inner lives where they are someone else, but their emphases are different. We carry these fantasies for a while, but then drop them into deeper subconscious, not wanting to admit that we still wish we could save the day and be proclaimed a hero, or discover that we are the heir to a kingdom, or get discovered as an actor.

How much we let those fantasies out dictates how we live our lives, in a way. If we believe that we can make it as a writer, and wish for discovery, we will write. If we want to be discovered as a writer but don't believe it can happen ('just a silly fantasy'), then we'll never find the time to write.

Hannah Montana is the next in a long line of such characters that had appeal because they spoke to our secret inner lives. I'm not surprised by her popularity: the concept speaks to a whole section of the teenage population, and probably even to a few adults too.

kurt wilcken said...

I often say that in my secret identity I'm a ninja cartoonist. Since I say it so frequently, you wouldn't think it was a secret.

But this past weekend when I was doing cartoon portraits at my company's union picnic, a couple co-workers came by my table and said, "I didn't know you do that!"

Steve Chaput said...

I've never seen the show either, but you're right in that you can't seem to escape her. My wife and I were just in Wal-Mart this past weekend and it seemed that there was something with her name or face on it in just about every aisle. Of course, I didn't check among the feminine hygiene products. :-)

According to Wikipedia, this isn't a "Walter Mitty" day-dream, but Hannah actually is a major star in secret. I guess, in either case, the idea of an identity unknown by others is a common fantasy.

It's hard to know how much is thanks to the actual talent of the show's star and how much can be credited to the promotion and money that Disney has available. I think the only way we will really know is in four to five years when Cyrus is out on her own, having outgrown the series.