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Identity Crisis
In Hannah Montana: The Movie, Miley Cyrus tires of living a double life and yearns for something simpler.

In January 2008, singer/songwriter Miley Cyrus performed at the Kids' Inaugural Concert, an invitation-only event for American military families and other area children, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Miley Cyrus

"You girls must be awfully proud of your dad—so am I," Miley said to then-U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha, as she sang with her own dad, country music star Billy Ray Cyrus. Indeed, Miley and her dad are so close that she legally changed her name this past year to Miley Ray Cyrus in honour of her father.

The teen has starred with her father in the Disney Channel's Hannah Montana TV series since 2006. You may not have heard about Miley Cyrus, but your kids certainly have. Hannah Montana's enthusiastic fan base has made the show into an international phenomenon. There is a Hannah Montana clothing line, albums, soundtracks and concert DVDs. Now Walt Disney brings us Hannah Montana: The Movie, in theatres April 2009.

Letting your guard down

Like the TV series, the premise of the film is a complex blend of reality and fiction: Tennessee teenager Miley Ray Cyrus plays Tennessee teenager Miley Stewart, an average schoolgirl by day but famous pop singer Hannah Montana by night. Miley conceals her real identity from the public, other than her close friends and family, in an attempt to maintain a normal life. The theme song, “(You Get) The Best of Both Worlds,” does not always ring true, since many of the comedy's laughs stem from crises that arise when the line between Miley Stewart and Hannah Montana is crossed.

In the movie, Hannah Montana's popularity begins to overwhelm Miley. "I'm tired of living a double life," she sighs despondently. "I don't think I can do this anymore." Miley travels to her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tennessee, to get some perspective on what matters in life. She needs a dose of reality.

The movie deals with teen angst and, for Miley, its source is self-centredness. This is obvious in the tantrums she throws at her best friend, Lilly, played by Emily Osment, and her dad, Robbie Ray, played by real-life dad Billy Ray.

The movie deals with teen angst...

Robbie Ray suffers the wrath of Miley when she finds out that he, a widower, has been secretly seeing someone.

"Explain this," she says. "Why are you dating someone without telling me? Explain how you could ever think that there's someone out there who could ever replace my mom."

In the course of the film, Miley discovers that life is an adventure filled with pain, laughter and romance, the kind of adventure that only comes when you learn to let your guard down.

Lies and repentance

Like Miley's character in the movie, all of us harbour a secret identity of sorts. We show a different face to the public at some point. We sometimes put on a smile when our hearts are breaking, laugh when we feel like crying and lie when we would be better served by the truth. We don't let people see who we really are, sometimes at great cost. Our souls need to be expressed, not suppressed.

Fast Fact: Originally named Destiny Hope by her parents, the happy baby gained her nickname “Miley” due to the fact that she was always smiling – “Smiley” – and the name stuck

The Apostle Peter could probably have related to the movie's message. A fervent follower of Jesus, he loudly professed that he would never betray or deny Jesus. But three times during the course of the arrest and trial of Jesus, Peter denied who and what He was, in effect, taking on his own secret identity. The crow of the rooster that fateful Good Friday made him recognize his betrayal, just as Jesus had prophesied, and he bitterly fled (see Matthew 26:69-75).

What a dramatic turnaround, then, when Peter saw the resurrected Jesus and sincerely repented of his action. Jesus predicted that he would be a rock that the future church would be built on (see Matthew 16:18), and Peter went on to have an illustrious career spreading the story of Jesus as a leader of the early Church.

Who you are

In real life, Miley Cyrus tries to avoid getting caught up in the façade that is Hollywood. In an interview with USA Today, Miley said that her faith in Jesus Christ is "the main thing" in her life. She attends church regularly with her family, and her father, Billy Ray, has also been open about his Christian faith.

True Christians reach out to the less fortunate and Miley is no exception. In 2007, she made a large contribution to the City of Hope, a cancer research centre, giving $1 for every Hannah Montana concert ticket sold. She also performed at a City of Hope benefit concert in 2008.

In a world where there are few decent role models for our children and even fewer movies we would dare take them to, Miley Cyrus stands out. Hannah Montana: The Movie's message—"Find out who you really are and don't be afraid to show it"— is one that kids and adults alike need to hear.

Originally published in Faith & Friends, March/April 2009.




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