A scary thing happened to me last night. I was doing my usual “surf the music channels” routine when my attention was caught by a Transporter-esque scene in which a nubile young lady cavorted to a song which, to my critical ears, sounded very cool and pop-rocky. “Ah!”, I thought to myself, “I’ll watch this to the end to see who it is”. Soon I was muttering along with the popstress “Don’tcha wish you were a fly on the wall?” The horrific revelation, when the song credits popped up at the end, that the singer was none other than Miley Cyrus has catapulted me into an existential crisis from which I have yet to emerge.
This, remember, is Miley Cyrus as in Disney tweenie creation Hannah Montana. This is the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus (is any song more universally reviled than “Achey Breaky Heart”?) This is a girl so prefabricated that she makes The Monkees look like The Sex Pistols. Not since I found myself (briefly, OK?) fancying Sporty Spice have I been so horrified at my own behaviour (and taste). And besides Miley Cyrus is only 16.
This is not my first attempt to re-engage with the music of today. Previously, I stumbled across the Filthy Dukes in a similar Friday night surf and their debut album is brilliant and not, it has to be said in my defence, wildly out of kilter with other CDs in my collection. I can convince myself that I’m not like Tony Blair, simply draping himself in the flag of Cool Britannia and hoping that it would somehow make him cooler by association. The fact that I have the Lady GaGa album in my Amazon shopping basket is harder to justify but she has openly admitted that her two biggest influences are Bowie and Queen so again a genuine lineage back to my pre-crisis collection is provable. In addition, at 23, she doesn’t fall into the deeply unsettling “less than half my age” category.
And this, I think, is the major problem with Miley. Are my daughters going to grow up afraid of bringing their friends home because they know they won’t be able to mop up the drool from their pervy father’s mouth? Is this just the first symptom of an incipient mid-life crisis? I know the signs as I’ve watched those male friends around me buy sports cars, get kitted out in new leather jackets and, yes, pathetically chase younger girls. As a psychologist, I can understand the need to prove to yourself that you *are* still relevant, still cool. That your ever expanding gut could be slimmed down once more if only you put your mind to it and that you could still get yourself in the best shape of your life. That like Peter Pan we are, in fact, not growing old and still immortal.
I would like to hereby coin the phrase “a Miley crisis” to describe that first occurrence, the identifiable starting point, of the later descent into full-blown male mid-life angst. The pattern is clear. And the most terrifying thing of all? If it starts with Miley Cyrus then it ends with the bastard Triathlon.