A Facebook friend posted that Miley Cyrus’s performance on the Video Music Awards last night was traumatically bad. Naturally, I had to trundle over to that Prytania Theater that is my MacBook Air to see it myself. I think my friend underplayed its awfulness. The giant dancing teddy bears were just embarrassing, but when Miley started masturbating on stage with the big foam hand, I bailed.

I was going to snark about what a train wreck that girl has become, but I thought instead about linking to the sad interview her semi-estranged father, Billy Ray Cyrus, gave to GQ a couple of years ago, not long after he and his wife, Miley’s mother, broke up, and he moved back home to Tennessee. (They’re apparently back together now; he remains a mess.) Excerpts:

After the first two seasons [of Hannah Montana] he felt things changing. “The business was driving a wedge between us,” he says. 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.”

More:

I ask what kind of communication he and Miley are able to have at the moment. “Good enough to know that it could be a lot better,” he says. “I’m scared for her. She’s got a lot of people around her that’s putting her in a great deal of danger. I know she’s 18, but I still feel like as her daddy I’d like to try to help. Take care of her just a little bit, to at least get her out of danger. I want to get her sheltered from the storm. Stop the insanity just for a minute. …”

And:

Hannah Montana probably has brought a lot of families together—just not one… [the interviewer says.]

“Yeah. I know. I know. I know.”

And do you see the show as a big part of what has made things not work in your family?

“Oh, it’s huge—it destroyed my family. I’ll tell you right now—the damn show destroyed my family. And I sit there and go, ‘Yeah, you know what? Some gave all.’ It is my motto, and guess what? I have to eat that one. I some-gave-all’d it all right. I some-gave-all’d it while everybody else was going to the bank. It’s all sad.”

Do you wish Hannah Montana had never happened?

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

Poor guy. I quite often feel that my greatest task as a father is to raise children who love what is good, true, and beautiful, and who are therefore aliens in this popular culture.