You Are 16, Going On 17, Baby, Ignore Those Comments

Last week, the tabloids were filled with breathless speculation over the demise of 16-year-old Miley Cyrus' relationship with her 20-year-old boyfriend, Justin Gaston, and her subsequent "reconnection" with Nick Jonas. Commenters took the opportunity to rip Miley to shreds.



When the story hit USWeekly's site, the commenters came out in force to announce their hatred for Miley and to warn Nick to run from her "slutty" ways:

2:47 PM Anonymous Says:
She is pathetic- way to dump one & move on to the next. Justin is much better off without a tramp like you.
Please remind me why girls look up to her. She is UGLY and ANNOYING!

10:33 PM Old School Woman Says:
I have to agree with some of the posts here. She is another DISNEY talent that shows she is nothing but a S*UT! I fault her parents. What parent in their right mind allows a 15 year old CHILD to date a 20 year old MAN! She didn't dump him, he dumped her. She was no longer of any value to his GOALS as a celebrity. Also, they probably had NOTHING in common being that he is 20 and when they first dated she was 15! Does the word PEDOPHILE come to mind. She is no longer of any use to him. He got his 15 minutes of fame and will receive more because now the media will follow him around to get his take on the breakup. He will spew all about their personal relationship to the tabloids to make his money. What idiots the parents where to condone this relationship. He will probably talk about their personal lives too! Now Miley wants to go back to protecting her image by being with the cellibate Jonas brother! Give me a break. Miley you got USED! Deal with it!

I suspect that several of these "anonymous" commenters were fans of the Jonas Brothers who didn't want to see their imaginary boyfriend hook up with Hannah Montana. But sadly, I also think there were several adults on the site who, for some reason or another, seem to think that a 16-year-old who—gasp—dares to split from her boyfriend and "reconnect" with another boy is a total slutbag who should be shunned, Hester Prynne-style, for even daring to associate herself with more than one man before someone puts a ring on her finger.

There has always been an obsession with youth in this country; the weird fascination with teen starlets is really nothing new. And it can easily be argued that the public's obsession with Miley's sex life (as well as the sex lives of the Jonas Brothers) can be traced to the Disney "purity ring" marketing machine, which pushes sexualized images of children while attempting to rectify the situation by insisting that none of their stars are sexually active whatsoever. It's totally okay to sell sex, you see, as long as you aren't having it.

The vitriol spewed at Miley Cyrus is all too familiar: Britney Spears' career began flailing soon after her breakup with Justin Timberlake, and even now, years later, whenever Britney hits a rough patch, people seem to expect Justin to come to the rescue. It's a very peculiar setup: we, as a society, expect famous teenagers to remain teenagers forever, and we expect their relationships to stand the test of time, which is a pretty unfair burden to put on kids, as I'm pretty sure none of us would want to be stopped on the street and asked embarrassing questions about our boyfriend or girlfriend from 9th grade.

I have admitted in the past that I hate the Disney machine and what it does to young girls, and though I often find myself annoyed by Miley Cyrus (and most of that annoyance is aimed at the machine behind her, including Disney and her parents) I think this particular incident, especially the vitriol being thrown at Miley, for daring to date around and—gasp—perhaps even have sex, compared to the "protective" comments being geared toward Nick, just shows how these young women are being set up to fall, hard, just for going through the normal transition from being a teenager to being an adult. At least one commenter had Miley's back:

8:03 PM Becky Says:

I cannot believe some of you people! How can you call a girl you have never even met, and who, as far as I know, has never had a sexcapade flaunted over the rag mags, a slut? She seems like a fairly well-adjusted teenager to me. What exactly makes her a slut? Her dating an older man? My husband is four years older than me, yet no one blinks an eye at that. Or is it that she has a nose ring? Oh no! Self-expression!!! Bless my buttons and call the exorcist! Or maybe her dating an ex again makes her slutty...have none of you gone from one boy to the next quite quickly when you were teenagers? You people are pathetic.

Amen, Becky. Bless my buttons and call the exorcist, indeed.

Miley Cyrus: Nick Jonas And I Have "Reconnected" [USWeekly]
Earlier: That's Enough, Disney Girls