Sunday, May 4, 2008

American Culture is a Recycling Bin

When one thinks of the individual who has most influenced popular culture in the last 20+ years, many names come to mind. Music producers like Dr. Dre and P. Diddy shaped the sound of hip hop and opened it to the suburban masses. Pop stars from Madonna to Britney Spears set trends in fashion, style, and attitude. Actors Tom Cruise and Mel Gibson have moved from starring in blockbusters to calling the shots. Yet none of these individuals have a mullet like Billy Ray Cyrus.

That must be the reason for his sustained, yet unexplainable pop culture success for 2 decades. Billy Ray's country music career was highlighted by "Achy Breaky Heart", a honky tonk anthem that America couldn't get enough of in 1992. In large part due to the widespread appeal of "Achy Breaky Heart," line dancing saw a meteoric rise in popularity. Equally inexplicable, mullets, aka, business in the front, party in the back, also saw an early 90's resurgence. One would think that Cyrus and his Kentucky waterfall would slip quietly into VH-1 oblivion. Able to do what others had failed at previously, Billy Ray emerged post millenium as his pop culture alter-ego. Once redder than NASCAR, the new Billy Ray is none other than a metrosexual.

Looks like a gay Johnny Damon

Since 2006 Billy Ray has been co-starring on the Disney show, "Hannah Montana," with his daughter Miley as the title character. The show has been a runaway success and subsequent concert touring has been SRO only. Miley's career is red-hot with her singing and acting package making her the next pop tween turd. Billy Ray has truly conquered both abysses of American culture, country music and teen pop. When the history books characterize American music, and culture in general, for the last 20 years, you can blame Billy Ray.