Letter to Billy Ray Cyrus

Danielle Levitt/GQ

Dear Billy Ray,

Or is it just Billy? Just Ray? Oh, gawd. I’ll just call you Mr. C because it reminds me of Happy Days and I get to sound like the Fonz and you get to sound like a model dad. Even though I don’t think lovely Mr. Cunningham would ever have had to give an interveiw to GQ talking about regretting nearly every choice he made as a parent for the entire second half of Richie’s life. Like you did.

You’re achybreakin’ my heart, Mr. C. You’re sad because your daughter Miley Cyrus is surfing the fame wave and will probably end up beached. She humps poles. She does bong hits. She gets nekkid when she shouldn’t. She has her 18th birthday party in a bar even though she’s too young to go to bars. And you say you feel utterly out of control and sad and you wish you could protect your little girl from her handlers who – gasp! – may be more interested in their percentage than her well-being. You say you regret trying to be a friend instead of a parent.

Boo. Fucking. Hoo.

You did this, Mr. C. Sorry to say this but you did it. You and your soon-to-be-ex-wife, eyes wide open. You let your 8 year old guest star on a tv show you were making and when Miley said “I want to be an actress!” you found a way to get her professional training and launched the career that led to her becoming an international tween sensation and, now, a vaguely skanky 18 year old who can say “You’re not the boss of my life!” to you with perfect impunity. Your ex was so tuned in to the vagaries of Hollywood that she actually had the whole family baptized before heading out to start the Hannah Montana adventure because she was worried about evil affecting you all.

Shoulda used more holy water. Or stayed home and avoided the whole mess.

Look, I know all you show biz types seem to like having your kids follow in your footsteps the moment they say “I wanna be just like you, Daddy!”. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. My dad is a doctor. If I’d turned to him when  was 8 and said “I want to be a doctor!” he would have admonished me to study hard and maybe bought me a book about being a doctor. He would not have taken me into the OR with him and let me try my hand at removing an appendix. And he sure as hell wouldn’t have enrolled me in medical school as a child and pushed me into  a full-time professional medical career when I was 11. Eleven year olds can’t handle that. Because they’re eleven! They’re little kids! Little kids don’t need careers! They need to finish 5th grade!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with letting a stage-struck tween give performing a try. Maybe in her youth group musical. Or she could take a nice tap class an do a recital at the end.  Or let her learn an instrument and play in the school band. But running out and helping her get a tv series? That’s not likely to end well.

You learned that the hard way, Mr. C.

I’m sorry you daughter is skanking it up and acting like an over-privileged harridan surrounded by babbling sycophants who prop up her over-inflated sense of self-importance. I would sure hate if that had happened to my kid. Only it won’t happen to my kid because I’m not going to let it. I can totally see why you say you wish it all had never happened to you. I hope Miley comes out the other side ok. Maybe then you’ll get a chance to be her dad, instead of her friend.



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17 comments for “Letter to Billy Ray Cyrus

  1. February 16, 2011 at 8:07 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I’m not going to read that article. It’ll make me fuming mad.

  2. February 16, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I think your letter is well written and hits the nail on the head.

  3. February 16, 2011 at 8:58 am

    But M-i-M!
    How was he POSSIBLY to know that pushing your child to become incredibly famous at such a young age could lead to these kind of things? It’s not like there have ever been any examples ever of this happening to other child actors – especially other former Disney stars. Nope, none. at. all.
    Poor Billy. His heart! It’s achy! And breaky! I just don’t think you understand.

  4. LCW
    February 16, 2011 at 9:58 am

    But Satan made her do this things, surely it’s not him or his family who are responsible. ::eyeroll::

  5. February 16, 2011 at 10:27 am

    I agree with evvery word. I made some really BAD choices at 18 and got to (1) do them without the world watching (2) deal with the consequences of my mistakes without interference from “handlers” and (3) had the benefit of parents who NEVER WOULD HAVE spoken publicly about what a fuck-up I was. Is telling GQ that your kid is whacked out a good parenting choice? No. It’s more attention seeking behavior from someone who’s been whoring it up for what – 20 years?
    M-I-M? You’re awesome.

  6. February 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I was going to leave a comment…which I guess I am still commenting…but Suzanne made me laugh so hard and put it more eloquently than I could have!

  7. February 16, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Awe, well I was going to buy my daughter a dog and a scalpel since she expressed interest in being a vet. Guess I should hold off on this?

    And, what about her dream of wearing a belly dancing outfit on the metro each day?

    My eyes are so wide open now. Thanks, Mr. C. For teaching us all a valuable lesson.

  8. Erica Snipes
    February 16, 2011 at 11:12 am

    Amazing what we can learn from our celebrity “parents” isn’t it? Your letter here could be forwarded around Hollywood, I think. Good God, Billy Ray.

  9. Lynn
    February 16, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Lydia is right on. The worst part is telling GQ all your dirty little secrets. That is really going to go over well at the dinner table.

  10. February 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    This is perfect. Seriously…parents need to take some fricken responsibility once in a while.

  11. February 16, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    How stupid is he really? That interview is just ASKING for us all to say – “DUH!”

  12. February 16, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I don’t really see the problem with having kids be actors/actresses when they’re young. However, if you do this, you need to be very strong in your parenting and guide them properly; not just be their friend/fan.

    You need to teach them that, even if millions idolize you, you can still get slapped around like any other stupid kid. 🙂

  13. amy
    February 16, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    He gave the interview 2 weeks after the bong hit, hit so given his state of parental(he said he was more friend than parent)embarrassment he poured his heart out to GQ.

    ANNND let’s talk about biting the hand that fed him alot of exposure and cash-even though he said he didn’t make any money off of Miley. He will be having a hard time getting work now.

    I also agree with Kadield about being a strong parent and slapping your stupid child. 🙂

  14. LB
    February 20, 2011 at 10:04 am

    Amen, sister! I have to admit; I love me some Hannah Montana. I sure hope everything works out for her. I’m definitely on HER side.

  15. February 23, 2011 at 12:59 am

    Well put! (I linked over her from snuggle wasteland, BTW)

  16. February 23, 2011 at 1:02 am

    Oops, I meant to say “linked over here” — that typo makes me sound downright questionable, particularly on the heels of the Cyrusian content!

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