The Disney corporation is a piss-poor parent. While it may be responsible for some of the finest keep-your-kids-busy-for-an-hour films ever made, it has done a reprehensible job of raising up its own young stars. If any real-life parents had Disney’s track record, social services would be on their asses before you could holler “High School Musical 3: Senior Year!”
While some former Disney Mouseketeers have gone on to fairly respectable, fresh-faced fame (Ryan Gosling and Kerri Russel spring to mind), Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera are sufficiently head-shaving and assless chaps-wearing to tarnish that particular institution. In recent history, High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens and Cheetah Girl Adrienne Bailon have both been spotted jaybird nekkid on the internet. The outcry was understandably uproarious, even though both these girls were over 18 at the time.
Stepping into Humbert Humbert-ville, we find Disney’s pretty young cash cow, Miley Cyrus, floating all over the internet in various states of undress. Some of the pics are obviously self-shot and verge on soft-core, while others are professional, classed-up, and arguably de-porned. All of them, however, show a great deal of skin for a girl too young to drive.
Disney’s response up to this point has been to deny (where possible), cover up (where necessary), and fling apologies to all and sundry. But what about when there’s a chance to do some real good by bringing a taboo issue into the open? When Mary-Kate Olsen owned up to her continuing battle with anorexia, she made acceptable for discussion a topic that had long been swept under the rug. Love her or hate her, she became the poster-girl for recovery, and encouraged girls around the globe to pick up a sandwich.
Now, 16-year old Demi Lovato (yet another vaguely attractive, singing/acting Disney brunette) has been spotted with slit wrists. At a recent public appearance, her left wrist showed a series of markings that some have identified as being self-inflicted. The official story is that Lovato was wearing exceptionally tight plastic bracelets just prior to appearing on the red carpet. Ones that left uneven, jaggedy marks of varying lengths.
Having been a teenage girl, I know a thing or two (second-hand-wise) about self-mutilation, and it is my completely non-professional opinion that those are cutting scars. They are too irregular to be attributed to gummy bracelets, which would have had to be tight enough to cut off blood flow anyways. Unless her bracelets were made of razor blades, and only went partially around her wrist, there’s no way they left behind those kinds of marks. It is such a ludicrous excuse that, despite her rep’s denials, it’s almost proof against itself, so I’m coming out and saying it right now: Demi Lovato is a cutter. However, having been a teenage girl, I also know a thing or two about angst and despair and how he just won’t call, so I can feel for her. I imagine that more than a handful of young ladies worldwide can, as well.
Both Lovato and Disney have a chance here to do a world of good. While some girls flaunt their eating disorders, and teen pregnancies are a dime a dozen, taking your heartbreak out on your veins is still a social no-no. It’s never easy to be a Pioneer for Unacceptable Behavior, and almost certainly Lovato is too young to take on this beast by herself. By chucking bogus explanations at the press, Disney has perpetuated the idea that self-mutilation is shameful and best kept under sleeves. If they have any concern for their young starlet, let alone their target audience, they will play the supportive parent and help Demi through this with some modicum of integrity.