Is it Disney's fault that their tween stars turn into controversial train wrecks? It's a legit question, with no single answer.
I wanted this article to be about Miley Cyrus and her recent escapades of exhibitionism. She's made it very clear that she is no longer the cute Disney tween who played Hannah Montana in the hit series. Instead, Cyrus has moved onto filming raunchy music videos and foam fingering herself on the International stage at the VMAs. Rumour has it Robin Thicke is furious about the performance. Maybe he's not used to being sexually objectified - unlike the girls in his own music video.
Sexed up and ready to go, Cyrus swings from one wrecking ball to another. I am overcome by a wave of deja-vu. She is certainly not the first Disney child star desperately wanting to prove she is an adult. Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera reigned over the pop scene in the early noughties, both eagerly wanting to show the world their newfound womanhood. 'I'm not a virgin, or at least I don't want to be' shouted Spears' red latex bodysuit and diamond encrusted full-body stocking. Aguilera went for a similar statement, wearing ass-less chaps and referencing sadomasochism and the Thai sex industry in her saucy music video for Dirrty. I have to say, both pulled off the skimpy outfits and I personally thought the Toxic and Dirrty videos were very cool at the time! Since then Spears has had her fair share of public meltdowns, shaved her head and gone to rehab. Aguilera is quickly becoming a fleeting memory of the 00s. At their peak they both locked lips with Madonna at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2003, it was named the 'best event of the decade'. Lindsay Lohan is another example of good Disney girl gone bad. After a string of successful movies, she progressed to a string of not-so successful lawsuits for drunk driving, drugs and stealing.
Centrally, there is a whole gang of girls growing up at Disney who have not been able to handle the transition from girl to woman. So, this brings me back to the burning question - why are these female Disney child stars struggling to move on to womanhood without ending up a hot mess?
The Disney lifestyle seems to be a curse, from which these spellbound young starlets struggle to surface unscathed.
The parents are getting a lot of the blame, but what about Disney? Do they have a role to play in this? Yes, it must be hard growing up in the spotlight. The public are accustomed to seeing you as a child and it takes time for people's perceptions to catch up. Maybe the downward spiral is just a side-effect of the sad reality of a childhood in the spotlight. The pressure is too much and you are not given the right tools and guidance to go on to form your adult image.
Watching kids on Disney channel, it seems like they are having so much fun, but in reality you are watching a 10 year-old kid with a grown-up job. With the confusion of being a pre-pubescent child earning more than everyone around you - including your parents - it is easy to imagine how delusions of grandeur and loosening grip on reality might develop.
It is undeniable that drug usage is common place among young teens, it's not unique to young stars but due to their fame it's very much a public topic; and with all this cash to spend, the cost of a drug habit isn't going to be a problem.
The Disney brand strives to make quality entertainment for every member of the family; and as such should try harder to advocate a healthy transition into adulthood. It's sad to see these girls, who are closely involved with the brand, having such a hard time adjusting to life after Disney. Or is this a tried and tested recipe for success? You do a couple of years with Disney, move onto making your first film or album whilst maintaining your child appropriate image. Then, ding dong, it's time to show the world you're a woman. Take off all your clothes at every event possible. Once you're stripped shamelessly, have been arrested twice and have enjoyed a mini-break in rehab you'll know you've really made it. The pattern is undeniable and so I'm left wondering who to point the foam finger at. Is it a case of bad parenting? Or is it in fact the good girls gone bad thanks to the Disney effect.
Follow Emilie Riis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/PUnicornP