Hollywood: America’s Heartbreak Town

Over at “The Deacon’s Bench,” Deacon Greg links to a brutally sad GQ interview with Billy Ray Cyrus, the former country music superstar now probably best known as “Miley Cyrus’ Dad.”

Fame has not been kind to Mr. Cyrus, nor to his daughter, whose recent escapades have been well-documented and greatly lamented.  Her rejection as an “appropriate role model” for the very demographic that made her Hannah Montana show on Disney such a success has been a painful journey for the entire Cyrus family — a family which has undergone a fair amount of turmoil from the very beginning.

Now, years afterwards, Billy Ray has begun to suspect that it wasn’t worth it:

And do you see the show as a big part of what has made things not work in your family?

“Oh, it’s huge—it destroyed my family. I’ll tell you right now—the damn show destroyed my family. And I sit there and go, ‘Yeah, you know what? Some gave all.’ It is my motto, and guess what? I have to eat that one. I some-gave-all’d it all right. I some-gave-all’d it while everybody else was going to the bank. It’s all sad.”

Do you wish Hannah Montana had never happened?

“I hate to say it, but yes, I do. Yeah. I’d take it back in a second. For my family to be here and just be everybody okay, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”

The interview itself is a free-wheeling affair: alternately self-recriminating and self-serving, and only occasionally coherent. But the man’s sorrow is painfully obvious. No matter what role he played in his own suffering and the suffering of his family, particularly his now-(in)famous daughter, it is difficult to watch him coming to terms with his failures without pitying him:

“How many interviews did I give and say, ‘You know what’s important between me and Miley is I try to be a friend to my kids’? I said it a lot. And sometimes I would even read other parents might say, ‘You don’t need to be a friend, you need to be a parent.’ Well, I’m the first guy to say to them right now: You were right. I should have been a better parent. I should have said, ‘Enough is enough—it’s getting dangerous and somebody’s going to get hurt.’ I should have, but I didn’t. Honestly, I didn’t know the ball was out of bounds until it was way up in the stands somewhere.”

The spiritual battle has been intense, as well. Cyrus recounts his former’s wife prophetic  insistence that the entirely family be baptized before heading for TinselTown, and his own growing conviction that the devil has been after them for years. Sadly, the damage left in the wake of fame and fortune (and even in the wake of this very interview) has been profound. Spoken and unspoken cries for help are everywhere:

“Somewhere along this journey,” he says, “both mine and Miley’s faith has been shaken. That saddens me the most.”

By

Joseph Susanka has been doing development work for institutions of Catholic higher education since his graduation from Thomas Aquinas College in 1999. Currently residing in Lander, Wyoming -- "where Stetsons meet Birkenstocks" -- he is a columnist for Crisis Magazine and the Patheos Catholic portal.

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