Disclaimer:Hannah Montana is the property of Disney and It's a Laugh productions. No profit is being made. No claim is laid to related characters. The only character that is mine is Jack Baum
Word of warning:Do not expect any 'Smiley Miley' in this story. This will be a darker fic and may cause some…..negative feelings among several fans. I wish to apologize in advance for any offence that will be taken. If there are any questions as to why this fic was written, or even considered, check out the Author's Note below.
Imperfections will not be tolerated
Jack Baum drove his old black '85 Firebird down the Malibu streets. His heart heavy as he thought about the job he was having to do.
Taking a brief second he looked at the stack of headlines next to him. A picture from Vanity Fair that had Hannah Montana dressed in nothing but a sheet. Pictures of her in her underwear acting like a tease. A picture with friends where they were slanting their eyes, and articles that followed calling the picture 'racist'.
Then he read the comments of hatred that followed. 'Hannah should be b*tchslapped. Hannah has let me down. I hate Hannah. Hannah is a slut. Mikayla rules. Hannah should be fat, alone and with two dozen cats.' It just seemed the hate of Hannah had no end, and the love of her was in short supply.
The record company that signed Hannah knew of Hannah's secret identity as Miley Stewart. It was a necessity as they needed to know who they sent the royalty checks to. With the name came the address. And Jack Baum was sent to deliver the ultimatum the record company had to Miley. He was sent to deliver the angry lecture the 'haters' demanded.
Jack dreaded the job. He hated it, but he had also been good at it. He laid down the law to many a star, and let them know what their choices were. More often than not he told himself _They deserved it. Pampered little rich kids think the world owes them a favor. Think they can get out of anything with their parents paying bills or B. They need to realize they are there for the audiences. Not the audiences be there for them._
But then he landed the Hannah Montana assignment. And he regretted it.
He had seen Hannah perform several times. She had a smile that lit up a room. A sign of light in a dark world. A world that seemed to glorify darkness, meanness and nastiness and go out of its way to tear down anything bright. Jack wanted to see that smile preserved. The world needed that light.
That wish was short lived as the scandals started to surface. Jack tried to convince himself that things weren't so bad. That at heart Hannah/Miley was still the good girl she sought to be. But the more and more he read the press he found that image to be harder and harder to hold onto. The darkness was winning out.
And the record company seemed to agree, as they sent Jack to 'lay down the law' the only way how. As Jack drove he felt like the drive was the longest he had ever taken. Not that Malibu was so far away, but that he was asked to read his 'riot act' to the last person he ever wanted to read it to.
_Not Hannah. Not Miley._ he said to himself so many times. The thought of drilling into Hannah was too much for him to bear. But he read the file on all that had been done. Not just the scandals, but the YouTube videos, dating a 20 year old that his father met at a concert. It seemed the media had no end to the negative press against Hannah. Jack then concluded the long drive was connected to the heavy heart he was carrying as well.
He didn't want to do what was being asked of him. But he had no choice. It was his job.
As Jack continued to drive he thought _I don't want this anymore. Let someone else do it. Lord lift this burden from me._
No one answered Jack's prayer. And if they had the answer seemed to have been 'no'.
Jack pulled up to the driveway of the Stewart residence. The home of Miley Stewart aka Hannah Montana. And the subject of the next…'business discussion'. Waiting outside was Robbie Ray with Jackson. Scowls on their faces. They were not happy to see Jack.
Robbie Ray and Jackson walked up to the approaching Firebird as Jack got out. "Mr. Baum. I heard you were coming. Can't say it's a pleasure." Jack nodded as he cast a look at Jackson trying to place him. "Jackson Stewart is it?"
"Yeah." Jackson said not wanting to exchange pleasantries either. That was fine with Jack. He wanted to get the job over and done with as quickly as possible.
"Mr. Stewart. Jackson. Take a walk." Jack said. Robbie Ray asked "What are you going to say to her?" Jack just turned his head and said again "Take. A. Walk." Robbie Ray shot Jack a glare and said his last words. "If you say anything to hurt my daughter I'll hurt you worse."
"Mr. Stewart. Hurting me worse would be a mercy killing to a man like me." Jack said. "Now I repeat, take a walk." Robbie Ray and Jackson then turned and walked towards Rico's where Lily and Oliver were waiting. Jack watched them walk away wishing he wouldn't have to do what he would do next.
_Walk away Jack. Just walk away._ he thought over and over again. But he knew he had no choice. He was the best 'heavy hand' there was. No one laid down the law like he had. Turning towards the door Jack opened it and walked into the Stewart home.
Sitting on the couch Miley Stewart sat waiting. Looking up she saw Jack in the doorway. A look of fear in her eyes. In her heart she was wishing _Why couldn't they have sent someone else? Why did they have to send him?_
Sadly, in her heart she knew the answer. Jack was best known for getting young talent to 'straighten up and fly right' as the quote had often gone. And with the scandals that had taken place the record company wanted to make sure Miley did so. Even if it meant tearing her down to do it.
And no one did tear downs better than Jack Baum.
"Miss Stewart. You know why I'm here." Jack then set the file down on the couch by Miley's side. Miley didn't look at the file. She had heard and read its contents from several different sources already. She didn't need to add more sources to the list, or reread what had already been read before.
"You're losing your good girl image." Jack said. "The media has already judged you as the next 'Brittney and Lindsey'. Not fair I know. But that's how it is."
"I know." Miley said sadly. "I just….I just can't figure out how it got this bad."
This got a glare from Jack. "How it got this bad? HOW IT GOT THIS BAD?! Let me give you a starting point!" Jack then picked up the file and pulled out the Vanity Fair picture and threw it onto Miley's lap. "How's THAT for a starting point?"
"I didn't know it was going to turn out like it had." Miley said. "I was told it was artistic."
"That's what they say about porn too." Jack said. "And it's mostly sleazy men who want to drool over a hot body when their wives and girlfriends can't satisfy them."
"I know. I didn't think…."
"That's right you didn't!" Jack said interrupting Miley. "You didn't think the way you should have. You are, or rather you were, an inspiration to girls in hopes they could aspire to be something 'good'. That it was okay to be a good girl. Good girls do NOTHING LIKE this! According to those parents you offended 'Good girls know better!' 'Good girls think this is porn'. At least those were the quotes I heard being used."
Jack then got into Miley's face as her lip began to quiver. Jack was already starting to scare her. "You should have thought porno from the get go."
Jack let the words hang in the air. Miley didn't talk back, as Jack had a force in his voice that scared her. Quickly he pulled out the next picture in the file. This one of a young man with Miley as Hannah. "Care to tell me who he is?" Jack asked.
"That's Justin Gordon." Miley said her voice starting to shake. "My father met him through a contest he was judging, He figured he might make a good guy friend after my break up with…..Prince Charming."
"And age wasn't an issue with you?" Jack asked. Miley shook her head no. "My family sets no rules on love." Jack listened as Miley's words hung in the air. "Well the media apparently does. And so does the state of California."
"It's not their concern." Miley said. Jack responded with "It is to them. And it is to the record company especially if you are looking to be the 'role model' you say you want to be." Miley looked at Jack wide eyed. "Say I want to be? What makes you think I just 'say' I want to be a role model?"
"Since you deviated from the ideals parents and the media believe a role model should embrace." Jack answered back. He pulled out a picture Justin as well as sheets of paper on the information there was on him. "Let's see. Didn't make it past first run competition. Best known for being the guy by Hannah's side. Kind of reminds me of someone. A someone countrified. Who….?"
Jack then dropped the name. "Oh yeah. He reminds people of K-FED!"
This filled Miley with outrage. "That's a lie right there! Justin is NOTHING like K-Fed. He's sweet, and caring, and someone I may want to settle down with!" Jack seemed to smirk as Miley said the line. "That's probably what Brittney said when she met K-Fed too. Look what happened there." Jack paused before speaking again.
"Look it doesn't matter what you think of the guy. His age will still be an issue at least until you're eighteen. But the bottom line is people want the golden couple of Hannah and Prince Charming. Not Hannah and a 'Corn fed K-Fed'." Jack said. Miley got angry with the accusation. "He is NOTHING like K-Fed."
"Is he?" Jack asked. "Eliminated during the first round of competition? Has been hanging around you for months. He's older than you to the point where if you had a relationship with him it would be considered statutory rape." Pausing again Jack added "They believe the ideal of 'the golden couple' is safer. Not to mention more…romantic."
"The 'golden couple' thing didn't help Brittney now did it?" Miley asked defiantly. Jack gave Miley a nod there. "No it didn't, but that doesn't mean an exception couldn't have been made. And they want the exception with you and Prince Charming."
"You can't force love." Miley said defiantly. Jack then let out a chuckle as he heard the 'l' word. "What does love have to do with anything? It's about status, it's about image. Those are your priorities."
"All right, say I get back with Prince Charming. What do I do about….the Corn Fed K-Fed?" Miley bit on the name Jack called him as if a sign of the contempt Jack seemed to have. Jack answered with "He can go have a small feud with John Cena or something. Or maybe he can date the Brittney Wannabe Brooke…..whatever her name is."
"The daughter of that old wrestler from the 80's?" Miley asked. Jack nodded then looked through the file some more. "Boy, for a role model you screw up a lot don't you? So many things you did, and shouldn't have done. Should I also go into the YouTube videos with that girl a few blocks down, Mandy is it?"
"There's no need to bring Mandy into this. She's just a friend I met through another school. We're just having fun." Miley said. Jack responded with "Acting like nine year olds. I thought you were mature for your age. Those videos didn't look like ANYONE being mature."
"There's nothing we can do about any of it now." Miley said wishing the 'meeting' would come to an end. "I made mistakes. They happened."
"You don't get it! THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE HAPPENED AT ALL!" Jack said outraged to the point where Miley was starting to have tears form. "You should have known better. You should have thought porno the MINUTE the idea was produced at that photo shoot. And the private photos to Prince Charming? You should have been horrified at the VERY THOUGHT of making them. And the racist pictures?"
"They're not racist!" Miley said. "I don't hate Asians!"
"Well the people in the media don't seem to care" Jack responded back. "They think you deserve all the hate you're getting! They already think you're a little brat that needs to be b*tchslapped by Robbie Ray. And they think he's too lenient with raising you. That he needs to be more iron fisted. And if someone proposed that idea for the 'racist' photo then 'racist' should have been the FIRST thing in your mind, and it should have ended right then and there."
"Can you honestly say they would have done any different?" Miley asked.
"The people you seemed to have offended seem to think so." Jack answered. He then paused before speaking again. "You need to hold yourself to a higher standard all the time. You need to know this stuff from day one. Not find out about it when it happens. Your sense of morals needs to be perfect as is everything else."
"I….I can't do that." Miley said with tears and quivering lips. "I'm still sixteen. I'm still a kid. I'm still figuring out who I am."
Jack pointed to a picture of Hannah with her blonde hair and wide smile. "As far as anyone is concerned you know who you are. This is who you are. That's all. Nothing else. A wholesome good girl with strong morals and upbringing. No deviations. No immaturity. Nothing. This is it. This is perfection."
"But nobody's perfect!" Miley said as the tears continued to fall. "Not even me. I even say so." Jack then said his final peace, and looked Miley dead in her bloodshot eye from all the crying she had done.
"You need to realize Miley Imperfections will not be tolerated. You have to have the perfect body, perfect smile, perfect morality, perfect everything. The minute you give one sign of an imperfection, or a perceived imperfection, you will be judged and judged harshly. And you'll be found guilty on all counts. Then be considered 'less than nothing.'" Jack's words hung in the air while tears fell down Miley's cheeks. The sadness and pain too much to bear. But still she had to ask one last thing.
"What if I can't be this perfect good girl huh?" she screamed defiantly as the tears continued to fall. "What if I can't have this perfect body? Perfect morality? Perfect code of ethics? Perfect danger sense? What if I can't have any of that?" Jack answered her questions with just two soft spoken words.
A moment of silence hung in the air before Jack spoke again.
"From now on the word 'perfect' is your life. Live it, breathe it, be it. If you don't you'll be in for more grief unless you quit. Those are the choices you have. Conform or quit." With that Jack walked out of the living room. Leaving Miley to her tears.
Opening the door Jack saw Robbie Ray and Jackson standing on their porch. Glares of hate across their faces. "I thought I told you to take a walk." Jack said.
"We did. It just wasn't very far." Jackson said. Robbie Ray then got into Jack's face giving him the full glare. "What the hell was that? 'Imperfections will not be tolerated?' What are you trying to say?"
"I'm just making sure Miley knows the choices before her. Either she goes back to being the good girl she was and stays that way or she quits right now. And if she stays in she removes herself from all the 'imperfect' elements. Meaning no Justin, no Mandy, no obnoxiousness. She also mends fences with Prince Charming and starts that romance again. She's the wholesome good girl again or she quits." Jack said. "And she never makes another mistake again." Robbie Ray shook his head in outrage "She can't do that. She'll make mistakes. We all will."
"Then the record company will expect her resignation in the morning." Jack then walked a few steps before turning around and adding "You know they said that she would not be in this trouble if you had been a little more heavy handed. A little more strict."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Robbie Ray asked knowing what the answer would be but he wanted to hear it from Jack anyway. "Meaning if you were a little more of the dictator instead of the best friend to her a lot of this mess could have been avoided. Already the word 'incompetent' is being thrown around not just in terms of your management skills of Miley, but as a parent as well."
Robbie Ray finally could take no more as he drew his fist back and landed a right cross across Jack's face. Jack fell down on the ground hard and cradled his jaw. Jack made no effort to retaliate. As far as Robbie Ray was concerned Jack deserved the punch.
And Jack did not disagree.
"You've made your point. And I've made mine." Jack said as he slowly got up to leave. Robbie Ray glared at Jack and said "I don't want to see you around here again. The record company can send someone else if they have something to say to my daughter."
"That can be arranged Mr. Stewart. But don't expect the message to be any different. She either becomes perfect quick, or she quits now. Imperfections will not be tolerated." With that Jack made his way to his Firebird just as Jackson shouted "It's not fair!"
Jack looked down at the steps with sadness in his eyes. Under his breath he said three words.
"No it's not."
Then he got into his car and left the Stewart home hoping he would never have to bring another young talent to tears again.
Author's Note:I guess the main question is 'why'? Why write a fic like this? If I'm a Miley fan why write a story like this?
And make no mistake I am a Miley fan. But this idea had been pounding in the back of my head for a while now as I was wondering how the 'haters' and the 'angry parents' would perceive the scandals Miley had been in and what they MIGHT expect to be done. Not saying that they WOULD expect this to be done, but how they MIGHT.
In the past few months it seemed like there was no shortage of negative Miley news. I don't believe a lot of it as it seems like the media just glorifies everything 'dark' and tears down anything that looks to bring even a bit of happiness. It's like Miley's bullies got a job writing newspaper articles or something. And I started to imagine what is it that these people wanted. In my mind this quote came up several times.
'Imperfections will not be tolerated.'
To some this isn't just a simple quote, or fic title. This is a way of life. They frown on any perceived imperfection and tear it down as if validating their own views of 'perfection' or what 'perfection' should be. To many role models need to be 'perfect' Perfect body, perfect morals, perfect ethics, perfect tolerance, perfect everything. Including meeting the perfect ideal for what a role model should be. And I think people are angry with Miley not because she did what she did, well that might be part of it, but that she deviated from their ideals of perfection.
And Miley could apologize a million times for anything she does. People will still refuse to believe it. As far as they are concerned Miley has been judged imperfect, and found guilty(without trial I might add). The sentence-never-ending grief and hate. Especially if they believe the apologies are not sincere, just token apologies done as a formality. If one apologizes so many times they tend to lose their effectiveness.
Especially if one is supposed to be so perfect then they shouldn't have to apologize at all. Perfection places you above any kind of courtesy. False or otherwise-at least that is the speculation I have come to. Not sure if it's true though. Hope it's not as courtesy is something that seems to be in short supply in today's world.
This is not the only fic I wrote based on a previous scandal. 'And then a friend comes along' was the first 'scandal based' fic I wrote. But now it just seems like more are coming out of the woodwork. I'm wondering now if I should leave this as a one shot or try to expand on this. I can probably take this to three parts with the second part being a 'good cop' approach to Jack Baum's 'bad cop'.
Incidentally the idea for Jack Baum came from a scene I watched on '24' season 7. In it Agent Renee Walker was questioning Jack Bauer about how he could do what he did and what if Renee couldn't deal with it. Jack answered Renee's question with 'Then quit.' And at the end of the fic when Robbie Ray punched Jack Baum, I felt the character deserved what happened, even if he questioned his actions or not.
As for Justin, I think a lot of people made the K-Fed comparison with him, even if they don't mention it. On I see a lot of Niley stories emphasizing Miley getting back together with Nick Jonas. In some of these Justin is seen as someone using her to advance his own career. Whether it's true or not remains to be seen. We'll probably find out should his album come out and see how many copies it sells. If it sells as much as Kevin Federline's album 'Playing with Fire' we're in trouble.
If he decides to advance his career by doing a program in the WWE where he wrestles John Cena then we're DEFINITELY in trouble. Unless he decides he wants to go the babyface approach and wrestle Randy Orton. But somehow I have a feeling that if Justin faced Orton and Orton did his famous punt to the head the crowd would be cheering. Not a good thing if you're a heel.
Looking back at the fic, and even this author's note. I guess this is a way for me to excise some demons concerning Miley, the media, and a whole bunch of other things. A lot of these demons are ugly, but then what demons aren't? If there is anything positive that I hope can come out of this fic I hope it is that by reading it some fans can have their own demons excised as well.
With sincere hope and most sincere apologies that I do mean,
P.S. I probably should get a YouTube set up together. I looked through my viewer traffic and I find I get a few hundred hits compared to 'What the Buck' on YouTube who gets over a million. Maybe my words would do better with a bigger audience, and maybe they can help Miley. Because like I wrote in the first scene Miley has a wonderful smile and I want to see it preserved. No, not just preserved….saved.
P.P.S. I hope to get back to 'Where is Hannah Montana' soon, but I have another 'scandal' fic in the back of my mind. It would be about Hannah, but it would feature Shane Grey. We'll see how things go.