The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

The Hannah Montana Phenomenon: How a 14-Year-Old Girl Can Out-Sell The Police

4 min read


If I suddenly found myself $2,000 richer, I can guarantee that my first thought wouldn’t be to buy tickets to see the 14-year-old daughter of a washed-up country star prance around an arena in a blonde wig and sing about how she has the “Best of Both Worlds.”
Miley Cyrus, the daughter of country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, started her 54-date tour last week in St. Louis.  I bet if you listen carefully, you can hear the high-pitched “I love you Hannah” screams of middle school girls from outside your window.
One ticket to the sold-out Charlotte, NC show’s tickets sold for $2,625, according to USA Today.  Cyrus’ “The Best of Both Worlds” Tour is not only selling for more than both the Justin Timberlake and Beyonce concerts, it is on target to outsell The Police reunion tour.
Because of my 13-year-old sister, the “Hannah Montana phenomenon” is not entirely foreign to me.  I’ve seen my fair share of her hit Disney Channel show as well as heard my sister singing along to the triple-platinum self-titled CD.
After all of my exposure to the two-sided middle-schooler, I’m no closer to understanding what it is that causes teen girls to idolize her, much less what would cause an adult to blow a paycheck on tickets to see her.
Dr. Debra Steckler, chair of the University of Mary Washington psychology department, said that it makes sense that young adults would emulate Hannah Montana because they are going through a phase trying to figure out who they are and what they want to become.
“They relate easily to her,” Steckler said. “They are dealing with the same issues and the show is a great outlet.  She’s confident and who doesn’t want to be that?”
Apparently, thousands of young girls want to be Hannah Montana. There are over 500 groups on Facebook about her and hundreds of fan sites, all offering a glimpse into the life of the star.
“Claire’s,” the ‘tween mecca’ of accessories, sells a whole line of Hannah Montana gear, including blond wigs for those who want to dress up like her for Halloween.  Over fall break, I saw a Hannah Montana doll in the toy aisle of Target and couldn’t resist pushing the button to make it sing.
However, the Hannah craze isn’t limited to just the middle school crowd.  A large portion of the fan base comes from high school and college students. Sophomore Jill Maier, who has been a Hannah Montana fan since her roommate, sophomore Katie Maultsby, introduced her to the show over the summer, admitted that when the obligations of college life get to be too much, a little Hannah Montana can go a long way.
“When I get stressed out, I turn on the television and realize, ‘Oh, Hannah Montana is on!’” Maier said.  “I just get lost in it.”
The roommates watch the show in their room frequently as well as listen to the CD.  “My roommate burned me a copy of the first CD,” Maier said, “and, yeah, I studied to it last night. I don’t religiously watch the watch the show, though.  I mean, not like Grey’s Anatomy.”
Maultsby chimed in with a laugh, “Well, at home, my TV automatically TiVo’s every Hannah Montana episode.”
Although Maier and Maultsby won’t be in the crowd at one of the concerts, for those planning on making a road trip to see Miley Cyrus, the closest she will be to Mary Washington will be at her January 7 concert at the Verizon Center in DC.  The show sold out in 12 minutes and now tickets are reselling anywhere from $205-1825 per ticket.
In fact, the resale rates of concert tickets are so outrageous that some states are taking action.  According to E! News, the Missouri and Arkansas Attorney Generals are filing suit against several online brokers who they say are violating scalping laws.
Maier said that although she loves the show, she would never pay more than about $50 to see the tour.
“It’s ridiculous to pay that much for tickets,” Maier said. “I mean, are you crazy? Parents are just spoiling their kids.”
Dr. Steckler said that the reason parents are willing to shell out what seems like exorbitant amounts of money to see the teen star lies in the fact that a lot of them are going through a “mid-life crisis” where they are questioning their identities themselves, as well as dealing with the everyday stress of being a working parent.
“Parents are exhausted and it’s easier to buy the tickets than deal with the ‘why can’t I go’ questions,” she said.  “Plus, Hannah Montana has a wholesome image.  She’s not as edgy or scary as some of the other pop stars out there.  If it’s a question of who to spend money on, Marilyn Manson or Hannah Montana, they’re going to choose Hannah Montana, no contest.”
When looked at in comparison, I suppose there’s a lot worse out there than a Disney show about a middle school girl by day, rock star by night.  But the true test of Miley Cyrus will happen in about 5 years when she can either join the ranks of Britney, Lindsey and Paris or stay out of the tabloids and be a good role model.
Although I’m not really a fan, I’ve got faith in the teen queen; Billy Ray, tell your daughter not to break our achy-breaky hearts.