Why would Miley Cyrus say she smokes pot and then go through so much trouble to say she doesn't? Pot does not matter to fans in 2011!
—Lucy via the inbox
As for the whole marijuana flap—in which Miley called herself a stoner and then trotted out her friends to explain she was joking—I can explain the confusion quite simply:
You're absolutely right that most of Cyrus's fans could not even care less about what she smokes. She's 19 now, after all, and no longer bound to Disney and the family fare that channel represents. (A year ago, Cyrus was seen smoking salvia, and even though she broke no laws, the image of a barely 18-year-old Cyrus with a bong was seen as much more scandalous.)
And yet, soon after Cyrus declared herself a "stoner" in a birthday video, good friend Kelly Osbourne felt the need to Tweet a vigorous defense of Cyrus, insisting that "If @MileyCyrus is not recording/filming/touring she works everyday. How could she possible do all that if she was a stoner!"
Cyrus's publicists also have gone into spin mode, saying the whole so-called pot admission was just a big joke.
Why all the careful backtracking? Because the kids aren't the only parties who matter, my dear.
"Fans don't care," says independent marketer Jeannie Long, who has does extensive work with the teen demographic. "But the media does and will glom on to stuff like that and associate it with her forever."
As a result, still other parties might see decide that Cyrus suddenly doesn't make for good business, Long explains.
"If the media keeps hammering home about someone being a certain way...it definitely effects jobs that the star can get—sponsorships, corporate tie-ins," Long says.
Indeed: Champion swimmer Michael Phelps lost a lucrative partnership with Kellogg's after he was photographed using a bong.
So while fans will always love Miley, she has unicorns to buy, and that can only be achieved if she continues to get jobs.