Hannah Montanna and post modernity

There is nothing redeeming for the show and sad, probably bordering on creepy, that an adult would even be giving it much thought. But here’s the thing: That annoying Hannah Montanna show actually brings up a handfull of questions about idenity, metafiction, and post modernity.

For those who don’t know about the show: It’s about a fictitious teen aged singer whose stage name is Hannah Montanna. Apparently the stress and travails of being famous become too much for her; she assumes the identity of an ordinary kid and wants to keep her life as a famous rock star secret.

For those who don’t know about the nature of identity, metafiction, and post modernity:
A major branch of philosophy is concerned with questions of who we really are… metafiction is when a fictional work is aware of the fact that it’s fictional, or plays with this in some way; post modern fiction is interested in issues of identity and often engages in metafiction.

So where do these two connect? Of course there are the obvious thematic elements of reinventing one self, the private vs public self, etc. But there’s stuff much more overt.

For example, the fictious singer– Hannah Montanna– does real-world concerts and releases C.D.’s under that fictious name. Of course, it’s the actress playing that role. But it’s as if the audience is pulled into the world of Hannah Montanna, where she is in fact a real pop star… It connects the concert with the show, in some way… It’s not unlike the scenes in Phantom of The Opera which take place in the Opera House… the audiance is of course the audiance, but they are also invited into playing the roles of the audiance in the performance going on within the narrative. In Hannah Montanna, the audiance is simultanously playing the role of a fictitious audiance and actually being an audience.

The duality of famous vs not famous and real vs fictional takes a few other twists if we step back a bit. First off, the role of the singers dad is played by a real-life country singer. On the show, he is not famous. On the other hand, the actress playing Hannah had no particular notieriety before the show.
In short: there was this ‘tween, who was not famous. She took on the role of a person who was famous. This famous character decided to take on the role of a person who was not famous. The role of her father was taken on by a person who was, in fact, famous before the show began. However, the role he is playing is the role of a person who is not famous.

Wow… Kind of dizzying for entertainment aimed at ‘tweens.


Published by


The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “Hannah Montanna and post modernity”

  1. Interesting stuff Jeff. And now my head hurts.
    Every Friday I hang out (as you know) with a group of guys at Finders Pub where we live. The guys ages range from 25 – 45, and its really a great time. A few weeks back, we began this discussion on pop stars, and someone brought up Hannah Montana. Coming in late for the discussion, one of the guys, who has an 11 year old daughter, says, in the midst of a particularly quiet day at the Finders, “Hannah Montana is hot!” He actually meant she was so hot you couldn’t get a ticket for one of her tickets, bu it just came out wrong and we all had a laugh at the 45 year old’s expense.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s