By Marina Hyde (The Guardian)
If you're easily devastated, do look away now. Our business this week is with the internecine struggles at the House of Mouse.
Remember when Disney stars had names like Donald and Daisy, and the worst thing that could happen to them was three mischievous nephews coming to stay? Those days are long gone. Today's Hannah Montanas and Jonases must negotiate altogether more complex perils, such as prescription painkillers, the leaking of wet T-shirt cameraphone photos, and deciding what technically constitutes virginity.
In seeking a significant other, then, it is no surprise that many of these gilded teens turn to fellow indentured players in Uncle Walt's repertory company. I believe the never under- rehearsed interview line is, "We're just taking things really slowly, but it's great to be able to share a chaperoned milkshake with someone who can relate to all the craziness."
Frankly, Disney prefers its craziness to be relatable. It works better that way. If High School Musical star Vanessa Hudgens had been chastely betrothed to her co-star and current boyfriend Zac Efron since she was 11, there wouldn't have been a sleazebag ex-boyfriend to leak her nude photos to the gazillion-strong armies of perverts that stalk the internet. And the corporation wouldn't have had to issue a creepy public rebuke to their teenage star. "Vanessa has apologised for what was obviously a lapse in judgment," this ran. "We hope she's learned a valuable lesson."
Much better to date a co-worker, thereby knitting yourself into a Disney heritage that includes the erstwhile union between fellow Mouseketeers Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. Unfortunately, sometimes even Mouse-endorsed love turns sour, and the Magic Kingdom echoes to the sound of anguished OMGs and WTFreaks.
This week, just such a romantic sundering seems to have occurred between Trace Cyrus, brother of Hannah Montana star Miley, and Demi Lovato, another Disney star with a TV show and recording deal. Should you care to know more about them, Trace is in a band with the brother of a Hannah Montana cast member (when are this lot going to get their own dedicated volume of Rock Family Trees?), and is soon to open for Miley on her world tour, despite appearing to violate several of Disney's body art statutes.
Right now, Demi is the Salieri to Miley's Mozart, but if Miley's controverisal semi-nude Vanity Fair shoot last year showed us anything, it is that child marketing prodigies oxidise heartbreakingly quickly. As Gina Gershon remarks in the Lost in Showbiz movie classic that is Showgirls: "There's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you."
Anyway, back to our star-cross'd lovers, Trace and Demi. We lay our scene in fair Los Angeles, where our tale is of two households if not alike in dignity, then certainly as undignified as the other. Needless to say, the fallout from the break-up is taking place on Twitter.
"I know there's such thing as a Mr Right," tweets Demi. "But can there be such thing as a Mr Not Right Now . . . ?" Alas, it is not long before she is musing "Ur So Gay, Katy Perry – such a well written, relatable song. ;) HaHaHaHa."
"Another storybook ending," declares Trace sarcastically, before posting a picture of the girlfriend before Demi.
"I'm sorry, was that supposed to hurt?" responds Demi. "Hmm. Oh well."
Yes, think of it as Dangerous Liaisons for heavily sexualised, abstinence-ring-wearing teens. After all, Twitter is basically the epistolary novel for the ADD generation. How you allot parts is up to you, although I'm afraid the Glenn Close/Marquise de Merteuil role must go to Miley and Trace's mom, Tish, who wades right on in with a mother-loving salvo.
"It really makes me sad that most people find it so easy to hurt other people," tweets Mommytish, whose bio reads, "I love cupcakes, butterflies, my beautiful kids, my gorgeous husband and of course JESUS." "Why is that?" she continues menacingy of the love split. "I never want to hurt anyone . . . EVER."
Enter Miley. "We can't control the path of their wicked hearts mama," she tweets back somewhat unsettlingly. "All we can do is shine a light & guide their way back home. Smile mommy."
"I wish I was the one hurting," Tish tells her son – and his 186,000-odd followers. "I wish I could switch places with you right now, because I would. You love so deeply, you deserve that back . . ."
I love the sound of Old Mother Cyrus, don't you? (Free life rule for you, kids: never go out with one of those boys or girls who says "My mother's my best friend". They have all kinds of things wrong with them – and don't even start Lost in Showbiz on the mothers.)
Thus far, the silence of formerly be-mulleted paterfamilias Billy Ray is deafening. But if he painstakingly divides his line-dance classic Achy Breaky Heart into 140-character instalments, then your week will be complete.