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Raunchy Miley Leaves Disney Behind

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VMAs

Miley Cyrus performs with Robin Thicke during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center on Sunday in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Getty Images / August 25, 2013)

I don't need a psychologist (or a sociologist for that matter) to give me insight on the inner workings of the mind of a former Disney star.

After all, I've got a 13-year-old daughter. Enough said.

Camiryn has been schooling me on the furor surrounding Miley Cyrus, who shook up the entertainment world with her raunchy dance routine at last week's MTV Video Music Awards. In case you missed it, the gist of the objectionable behavior was a rump-thrusting Cyrus backing it up against the pelvis of singer Robin Thicke. The young people call it "twerking." The sexually suggestive action is usually reserved for the strip clubs, Jamaican-style dance halls and, yes, many high school proms.

I remember stopping by an off-campus prom a few years ago when I was working as the director of a local high school. I brought Camiryn, then in middle school, along with me on the visit. The kids looked great and were well-behaved. But the dancing got so inappropriate I had to get Camiryn out of there. The DJ eventually limited the play list. A security guard cracked that perhaps a veterinarian should've been called in because of the nature of the dance moves.

On the ride home, I delicately asked Camiryn what she thought of the event. Her response still echoes: "I can't believe those girls allowed those guys to hump them like that.''

I nearly swerved off the road.

The truth is the girls got the kind of action they were looking for when they engaged in the "back-that-thing-up" style of dancing that Cyrus brazenly displayed on national television. Yes, the 36-year-old Thicke contributed to the sex play too. But it was the 20-year-old Cyrus who was in full command of the script to help re-brand her from Disney darling to video vixen. From a promotional perspective, it worked brilliantly. Her hijinks even earned prime play on CNN.com, a serious-minded news site.

Entertainers know the audiences get worked up about anything sexually provocative, particularly if performed on a national stage. The Twitter world goes ga-ga (not to be confused with Lady Gaga). Their Q and "Klout" scores explode as their recognition (and perceived influence) increases in pop culture and social media.

Sex sells. Sexuality sells. And if you've got a CD or movie to promote, or an image you are trying to transform, well, some folks do whatever it takes.

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake titillated a 2004 Super Bowl audience with the infamous (and well-choreographed) "wardrobe malfunction.'' Madonna and Britney Spear did it with their on-stage open-mouth smooch at the 2003 VMAs.

Miley Cyrus was just the latest to trade on her sexuality.

Camiryn, a former fan of Disney and Cyrus, had one word to describe what was going on with the person who defined the Hannah Montana character — "rebellion." Cyrus, Camiryn says, is distancing herself from her clean-cut Disney image because at age 20 it has become confining to her — and, frankly, not as marketable. It's that simple.

From Camiryn's perspective, the Disney stardom has been a blessing and a curse for Cyrus. The kind of music, however, that appeals to a teenager is different from the musical tastes of a young adult. Miley Cyrus has outgrown her fan base. She is now going to extremes to reinvent her brand and attract a new audience.

Lindsey Lohan and Britney Spears went through the same type of self-image ambiguity and self-destructive behavior. It's sobering to see the list of child celebrities who end up having drug, alcohol and mental health issues. The recent apparent suicide of former Disney star Lee Thompson Young at 29 is just another reminder that attaining celebrity as a child can cause serious emotional problems as an adult.

An aspiring actress and performer in her freshman year at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, my daughter loves practicing the arts and says fame is not a driving factor for her.

She has lost respect for Cyrus and her risque attempts to seek attention. Portraying herself as "a skank," as Camiryn puts it, may ultimately pay off for the ambitious Cyrus.

But it will come with consequences.

Stan Simpson is host of "The Stan Simpson Show'' (www.foxct.com/stan and Saturdays, 6:30 a.m., on FOX CT).

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