by Dean Obeidallah
(CNN) — Miley Cyrus is an addict. The “drug” she can’t get enough of is potentially one of the most dangerous ones out there: Fame.
I bet that Miley won’t even be upset with me saying this about her. Why? Because her name is in the headline of this article. And on some level, I — along with others in the media — am enabling her addiction.
But Miley is not the only person who craves fame. America is filled with people like Miley. Just watch any “Real Housewives of_____,” “American Idol” auditions, “The X Factor,” etc. Even I enjoy making appearances on cable TV. Of course, I don’t appear on these shows like Cyrus, scantily clad with my tongue hanging out and twerking nonstop. (And I’m sure not many people would want to see me do that.)
Miley may only be 20 years old, but she has mastered the game of manipulating the media to follow her every move. She did it in August at the MTV Music Awards when she dry-humped singer Robin Thicke.
She followed it up in September with the release of her music video, “Wrecking Ball,” in which she appeared naked while swinging on a wrecking ball. And just this past weekend she lit up a marijuana joint and smoked it during MTV’s European Awards telecast. Granted, the awards show was held in Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal. In fact, there’s even a Museum of Marijuana over there.
Would Miley have smoked pot on a U.S. TV show, in violation of the law? Maybe. In order for Miley to get her fame fix, she’ll need to come up with more and more outrageous antics.
There really is no incentive for Miley to change her ways. After all, she isn’t doing it for the money — her net worth is estimated to be $120-150 million. But rather, she would do it for the high of seeing her name in the headlines.
At this point, there are a few paths Miley can take.
She can follow the footsteps of fame junkies like Donald Trump and Sarah Palin and become nothing more than a walking punch line.
She can sadly go down the trail of young stars whose lives tragically ended at an early age because fame — or the loss of it — was too painful to endure.
Or — and this is my sincere hope — Miley can follow the lead of fame addicts who use their name recognition to call attention to pressing social or political issues and push for positive change. A good example of this type of person is Lady Gaga.
Lady Gaga loves fame. The lyrics of her new hit song “Applause” makes this point abundantly clear. “I live for the applause … Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me.”
We’ve seen Gaga wear a dress made of real meat and be carried to an awards show in a large egg pod. Just this week, at the release party for her new album, she wore a dress that had mini-helicopter-type rotors attached to it so she could fly around the room.
But Lady Gaga has also used her fame for more than just self-promotion. This week while Miley Cyrus was smoking a joint on stage, Lady Gaga was opening up about her addiction to marijuana. She admitted that at one time she smoked 15-20 joints a day. She talked about her struggles in overcoming addiction.
Gaga offered a sobering cautionary tale for young people that marijuana may turn out to be more than recreational fun — it could consume your life.
And for years, Lady Gaga has used her fame to sway public opinion on gay rights. She called on President Obama to support marriage equality years before he finally did. She also pushed for an end to the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Of course, while she was advocating for changes she was getting plenty of media coverage. It’s a win-win situation.
So, Miley, twerk all you want, but in between your publicity binges, why not also talk about issues that demand more attention, such as domestic violence, child poverty, gun safety, etc.? Think of it as: “Twerking for a cause.” Believe me, the press will love it and so will the people you are helping.