Am I the last person left on the planet who has never seen an episode of the hit TV show "Hannah Montana" before?" I have wondered that several times over the past few years, and it crossed my mind again this week when I reported on the the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Peanut Corporation
of America issuing a safety recall of Disney's Hannah Montana Peanut Chocolate Granola Bars due to possible salmonella contamination. So when I was offered the opportunity to review Disney Hannah Montana Keeping It Real, a DVD with five episodes from the popular television program "Hannah Montana," I must admit, I jumped at the chance. Here was my chance to finally be culturally relevant!
I popped in my DVD not sure what to expect. Well, OK, I had SOME idea what to expect. I had seen Miley Cyrus on talk shows, and I had seen promos for the "Hannah Montana" movies, so I had come to certain conclusions. On the couple of talk shows I saw, Miley Cyrus appeared overly precocious to the point of being brash and almost rude as she talked over her father. Self-confidence is a good thing, but acting like an adult at 15 or 16 is not. Unfortunately, this seems to be the personality of her TV character as well. Whether as Miley Stewart or Hannah Montana, the lead character is brash and mildly disrespectful as she rolls her eyes, talks back or sometimes even talks down to adults, and frequently does things her father says she shouldn't do.
Speaking of her father, where IS he? In much of the Disney Hannah Montana Keeping It Real DVD, Miley appears to be virtually on her own, hanging out with her friends, visiting stylists, dropping into hotels without parental supervision -- this is before the episode where she learns to drive. Her television character would be less inclined to get into all those small scrapes if she had more accountability to her father.
The Hannah Montana Keeping It Real DVD has many good points. Hannah Montana is colorful, musical, and culturally relevant, so it appeals to kids and tweens. It has a moral or an ethical observation in each episode which is much appreciated. When Miley does things her father says she shouldn't do, there are consequences. Miley Stewart also lies - frequently - on the show, but she usually has to come clean at some point. And the DVD features episodes with guest stars Corbin Bleu, Ray Romano, and Dwayne Johnson.
However, the DVD and show are way, WAY too focused on fashion and style, although all the fashion attention probably makes for good sales of the Hannah Montana brand of clothing. There is even an exclusive sneak peek at Hannah's new look - more focus on fashion and style. But who is "keeping it real" on a show where a teenage girl wears all the latest fashions, can buy expensive jewelry and gadgets, and zip all over the city without her father or other adult supervision.
The Hannah Montana Keeping It Real DVD sends mixed signals about what is appropriate and what is "real." It is not a bad DVD, but it should serve as an object lesson on how important parental input is is, even for teens watching "family" shows on TV. Don't let a television set teach your child or teen what constitutes "keeping it real."
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