Off the Clock with the Check Out Girl: Oh, Billy Ray

Billy Ray Cyrus, star of stage, screen, and jukeboxes everywhere, is featured in the February issue of GQ Magazine, lamenting that the television show Hannah Montana destroyed his family. I hear ya, cowboy. I feel the same way.

Billy Ray Cyrus, star of stage, screen, and jukeboxes everywhere, is featured in the February issue of GQ Magazine, lamenting that the television show Hannah Montana destroyed his family. I hear ya, cowboy. I feel the same way.

In the interview, the man with perhaps the world’s most recognizable mullet talks about the Disney Channel series in which he costarred with his daughter, Miley, and how it drove a wedge between them.

“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 OK, safe and sound and happy and normal, would have been fantastic. Heck, yeah. I’d erase it all in a second if I could.”

I hate to say it to YOU, Soul Patch, but you had a second to take it back. A lot of seconds, for that matter. Starting when you moved your family from Tennessee to Los Angeles so that your 14 year-old-daughter could star in her own television series. And you, right beside her, as her costar.

Just before moving out to Los Angeles, the whole family had been baptized together by their pastor at the People’s Church in Franklin, Tennessee. “It was Tish’s idea,” he remembers. “She said, ‘We’re going to be under attack, and we have to be strong in our faith and we’re all going to be baptized…'” Entering this industry, you are now on the highway to darkness… It’s the way it is. There has always been a battle between good and evil. Always will be.”

So, Tight Jeans, the industry is the highway to darkness but it was still permissible to let your teenage daughter get involved? This man was in the business for twenty-five years before Hannah Montana even began filming and, here he is, acting as if he had no idea that being an international superstar would cause his daughter to grow up faster than he would like.

Hey, Billy Ray, isn’t it your job, as a parent, to be the Voice Of Reason? For instance, my daughter is convinced that she wants to grow up to be a math teacher. IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL. Voice Of Reason says “What?” Voice Of Reason says “Are you sure?” Voice Of Reason says “Wouldn’t you rather marry a doctor and have an affair with your tennis instructor and take care of your mother in her twilight years?” Voice Of Reason is kind of a gold digger.

What I’m saying is that children sometimes want things that it aren’t necessarily in their best interest. That’s sort of your “thing” when you’re a kid. As an adult, trusted with the task of caring for a child, your “thing” has to be evaluating THAT thing and deciding if it is best for them. Like a career in the public school system. Or a television show where their best friend is played by the sister of the kid who sees dead people.

He tells me that he has never been able to discipline his kids and that he now wonders whether that was a mistake. “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.”

Ah, but Miley’s 18 now, isn’t she? She’s free to smoke all the synthetic pot, hug all the Corona bottles (and, subsequently, toilets, I’m sure), do all the pole dances, and date all the adult men she pleases.

“Season four (the final season of Hannah Montana, and the one currently airing), it was a disaster,” he says. “I was going to work every single day knowing that my family had fallen apart, but yet I had to sit in front of that camera. I look back and I go, How did I ever make it through that? I must be a better actor than I thought.”

I doubt it, Mr. Cyrus. I’ve seen the episode of The Nanny in which you appear (and every other single episode of that series), and I think it’s safe to assume that you are exactly as good an actor as you thought. If not maybe just a little less able.

And, lest you think I’m being too harsh on Billy Ray, because it kind of sounds like he finally gets it, it was recently announced that he and his son Trace Cyrus would take part in a new Syfy reality series called UFO: Unbelievably Freakin’ Obvious.

Apparently, some lessons are not so easily learned: “Oh, it’s huge—it destroyed my family. I’ll tell you right now—the damn show destroyed my family.”

It’s good to have family traditions.

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The Checkout Girl

The Checkout Girl is Jennifer Lemons. She’s a storyteller, comedian, and musician. If you don’t see her sitting behind her laptop, check the streets of Richmond for a dark-haired girl with a big smile running very, very slowly.

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