How to write a fan letter
November 21, 2008 6:19 AM   Subscribe

How do you write a fan letter pretending to be Miley Cyrus/Hannah Montana?

My co workers has a daughter with Down Syndrome who is in love with Hannah Montana. She recently told me about a bunch of fan letters that her daughter wrote to Hannah that she was hanging onto. I offered to write a letter back to her daughter pretending to be Miley Cyrus. Due to her illegible writing I'm not even sure of the questions she asked. Where can I find some good information that isn't just stuff you would find on her official site? Also, I've never written a fan letter to anyone before so I have no idea of the response one would get. Any thoughts?
posted by LiquidKarma to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would ask myself if this was ethical.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:23 AM on November 21, 2008

Don't do it. Maybe you should contact her Rep and explain the situation and they'll just send back a generated form letter, but anything would be better than lying to your co-worker's child, even if your co-worker is okay with it.
posted by banannafish at 6:25 AM on November 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

My personal advice? Don't do this... Why toy with a little girl's emotions, especially a disabled girl? That just seems manipulative and wrong...

If the letters are illegible, perhaps you could re-write them and actually send them to Miley Cyrus' fan mail address. While I've never been involved with a fandom as truly obsessed as the Miley thing, in my experience, given enough time, most fan mail letters that request a reply actually do get one that at least appears to be from the person. You can even usually request a signed photograph and that request is usually granted.

I think an honest reply from Miley (or her publicist, fan group, etc that appears to be from Miley) would just be more fulfilling for all involved.

Not to rain on your parade, but just giving you other ideas that might end up working out better and make everyone happy.
posted by arniec at 6:27 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I would only have offered to do this if I were a true Miley Cyrus fan and knew lots of details about her. And even then I'm not sure if I would agree to do this. It's a bit unethical in my books.
posted by Meagan at 6:30 AM on November 21, 2008

In order to send her actual fan mail you have to be a member of her official site which costs money. The only reason I said I would do it was because when she sent Backstreet Boys fan mail years ago and got no reply she was devastated.
posted by LiquidKarma at 6:30 AM on November 21, 2008

I don't think that's right about the being a member of the official site. A quick Google for "Fan mail Miley cyrus" (a google phrase I'll NEVER live down...), I found this page . It says:

If you want to request an autograph, follow the guidelines bellow. ... If you live in USA send a properly stamped and self addressed envelope (minimum size 8.5" x 4") with your request letter and a photo. You can include a piece of cardboard to keep the photo from bending in shipping and also add "Do Not Bend" on the envelopes. Send your letter and wait. On average, there is going to be a 3+ month wait for a response.

Then further down on the page here are some successes of people who got her autograph paying nothing but a SASE:

Sent: Nov. 2007 Recieved: October 25, 2008 I sent a couple of photos for her to sign and she only signed one of them. Address Used: Miley Cyrus PMK/HBH 700 San Vicente Boulevard Suite G 910 West Hollywood, CA 90069

I sent this out like two years ago for my cousin. I sent a Hannah Montana poster, letter, and SASE. Received back on Saturday the 25th. Unfortunately the poster was personalized to me and not my cousin. I sent to the Nashville Address I believe, which is Humphres & Associates, P.C. 415 4th Avenue South Nashville, TN 37201 USA
posted by arniec at 6:35 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

The only reason I said I would do it was because when she sent Backstreet Boys fan mail years ago and got no reply she was devastated.

Maybe that's why she is hanging on to the letters she wrote Hannah Montana. It sounds like she learned from the first experience and is hedging her bets with this one. Smart girl.

All kids are disillusioned at one point or another by life experiences. Don't deny this girl the opportunity to learn in a relatively harmless way that people are flawed, that some people will let you down, and just in general that you can't always get what you want.

My niece has Down syndrome and although she learns more slowly and in different ways than other kids, she does learn.
posted by headnsouth at 6:38 AM on November 21, 2008

Unethical to fake it. But it would certainly be worth finding a way to bypass the paid fan club and send copies of the letters via a direct route to the artist with explanation and request for a quick note or signed pic. These artists are understandably insulated, but they have a heart. You won't find the direct avenue online, but with some persistent phone sleuthing you could probably get there.
posted by beagle at 6:38 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

She isn't hanging on to the letters, her mom is. She gave them to her mom to mail them but her mom doesn't know anything about this stuff. She has been asking her mom for weeks now when she'll get a response from Hannah. Her mom is worried that if she doesn't get a response her whole Christmas will be ruined because that's all she'll focus on.
posted by LiquidKarma at 6:43 AM on November 21, 2008

But it would certainly be worth finding a way to bypass the paid fan club and send copies of the letters via a direct route to the artist with explanation and request for a quick note or signed pic. These artists are understandably insulated, but they have a heart.

Seconding this. The paid-membership-for-the-fan-club is the rule to just keep Miley from being besieged by letters -- but exceptions certainly get made, and this certainly is one.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:44 AM on November 21, 2008

It's unclear to me whether doing this would be unethical. Is it unethical for parents to pretend to be Santa Claus--some even write letters from Santa back to their children. Is it unethical for parents to pretend to be the Easter Bunny, the Sandman, or Cthuhlu (no, I had a perfectly ordinary childhood; why do you ask?)?

In the end, it's up to this parent t decide and she sounds like she wants someone to write a pretend response from Miley Cyrus to her daughter. I personally don't feel it's being manipulative. She wants her daughter to be happy and it sounds like a letter from "Miley" would do just that. As long as said letter doesn't promise things that can't happen (a visit from Miley or a Birthday Party performance, etc.), it'll probably be okay. And a year from now her daughter will be focused on something else / someone else anyway and will have had a Happy Christmas.
posted by at 6:51 AM on November 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

Oh come on. How is this even an ethics issue? The parent is fine with it, in fact, may have requested it. It doesn't really need to be this complicated. Seconding mrbarrett, is it unethical to mark presents to be from Santa when Santa doesn't exist? Let's relax for a second.
posted by heavenstobetsy at 7:03 AM on November 21, 2008

Miley Cyrus is not Santa Claus, and a child with Down Syndrome isn't a china doll. Two thoughts come to mind:

1) If your friend had already sent off the letters or one of them, a photo might have had a chance of arriving by Christmas, but now it's not going to happen even if she follows arniec's very good instructions above.

2) How is the girl not going to be heartbroken when a response doesn't arrive? She still thinks Miley has gotten her letters. I don't understand what Mom's current strategy is supposed to resolve.

I would follow arniec's advice and then get her a very nice, perfectly targeted gift for Christmas that'll have her so excited she won't even think of a response until it does arrive, if it does.
posted by bettafish at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2008

For the love of all that is Holy do not fake a letter! Send the damn letters in, if there is no response by Xmas just go get a signed picture off of ebay and wrap it up to put under the tree. The excitement of the picture will deflect any disappointment of the lack of response.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:13 AM on November 21, 2008 [2 favorites] raises an interesting point, but I suspect that if your friend's daughter gets a response from Miley, she is going to want to keep on sending letters and expecting responses. How long are you prepared to keep up the ruse? How do you think the little girl would feel if/when she learns that the letter(s) she got back from Miley were fake?

Even kids with Down Syndrome have to learn to deal with life's disappointments. You say she was crushed when she didn't receive a reply from the Backstreet Boys, but she's still living a relatively happy life, yes? I doubt she wakes up every morning crying because Nick Carter ignored her fan letter.

A final thought -- is there another personality that she's fond of who is not so huge? She'd be much more likely to get a response from a lower-profile person.
posted by kitty teeth at 7:36 AM on November 21, 2008

Why not just sign her up for the fan club?

You'd get a bunch of stuff to put under the tree, including a "letter" from Miley. You or her mom can then use the account to send in her letters by email, and maybe get a form letter response you can share.

It's honest, easy to keep up, provides ongoing interaction of sorts, and gets you out of the holiday push. Downside, of course, is the sign up fee.
posted by rube goldberg at 8:22 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I know even less about Miley Cyrus than you do, but someone who's a big fan is going to know a lot about that person. Even if your friend's daughter doesn't catch on, isn't she going to show the letter to all of her friends? I would definitely do that if I got a letter from some famous person. What if one of her friends catches a detail you missed, and pronounces the letter as a fake? She'd be devastated and betrayed. Don't do it, really. I don't understand why her mother didn't just mail the letters; at least there'd be some chance of a real response.
posted by desjardins at 8:43 AM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

First of all, the poster asked HOW to do it not IF she should do it. Cripes, if it'll make the little girl that happy, why not?

Check out her MySpace blog for an idea of how to write the letter. I'm sure a publicist does the blogf but it's still worth checking, I think.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:19 AM on November 21, 2008

Hmm. Just realized the blog is mostly info on appearances, but it does have quite a few clips to check. Maybe read the Vanity Fair profile. Or these interviews.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:23 AM on November 21, 2008

I think it's very kind of LiquidKarma to offer to do this but I really like rube goldberg's suggestion to actually pay for the official fan club membership. (Assuming it's not extravagently expensive.) She'd get all sorts of Hannah Montana "stuff" to put under the Christmas tree and then they'd have an easy way to send her actual fan letters in the future. Maybe you could type up the letters and include your legible versions with the girl's originals?
posted by Neofelis at 9:42 AM on November 21, 2008

For info on Miley, you could check out her (official) YouTube Channel- she does little videos with her friends. They're pretty annoying and I can't stand to watch them, but I imagine if you did, you could get some good stuff for the letters.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:03 PM on November 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

dude, how is this unethical? is having presents from "santa" under the tree unethical? is hiding easter baskets like the easter bunny does unethical?

i know if i were a little girl who wrote a fan letter to someone i hero-worshipped and never got anything back, it would make me feel very sad indeed. little kids don't know that their letters never actually get to the actual person. and a child with downs probably has even less awareness of that, or the sheer money-making nature of the whole hannah montana empire.

writing a short letter to the kid and signing it miley cyrus (or hanah montana, whatever) and then mailing it to her home is a sweet thing to do and is no worse than when i got letters from "santa" that my grandpa wrote to me when i was a kid. it will make her day, and when she grows up and thinks back on it, maybe she'll realize that it wasn't really miley cyrus, but she'll know how much you cared about her that you wanted to make her smile.

so, onto how to do it... keep it short and sweet. "thanks so much for your letters, they really made my day."
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:30 PM on November 21, 2008

I think misanthropicsarah's got it. You can keep it short by using an excuse -- "I have to go to the recording studio/have lunch with my dad/try on wigs with Dolly Parton now, thanks again!" If you follow the great advice upthread and get a real response/photo/whatever, it won't necessarily conflict with what you've already done.

Since it's come up: Looks like it's $30 to join the official fan club. Includes a letter, autographed photo, DVD, and various onliney things.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:27 PM on November 21, 2008

I don't think it's unethical because even if the letters were officially sent to Miley Cyrus and a response did come back, it wouldn't actually be from Miley Cyrus anyway. Do you really think that Hannah Montana sits around reading fanmail and writing back individual responses? No, there is some 22 year old pimply kid sitting in a cubicle somewhere working for her agency or the fan site, pumping out form letters and signing "Love, Miley" on stock 8 x 10 photographs.

I don't understand the argument that just doing it yourself would be more "unethical" than that. I used to write to a ton of bands/athletes/celebrities when I was younger and while some responses were probably from the celebrity themselves (I doubt Richard Petty is getting too many letters from 9 year old girls, for example), almost all came back months later with standard fan club materials and a form letter. At the time I was thrilled and knowing now that they weren't actually from the people in question and the personalized autographs probably weren't real doesn't diminish the joy that my childhood self experienced upon receiving them.

If you are persuaded that going through official channels would be more responsible, sign her up for the fan club. You will almost certainly get fan club materials that will likely include the aforementioned form letter "from" Miley and the turnaround time will be faster than if you sent in a snail mail letter.
posted by cosmic osmo at 2:42 PM on November 21, 2008

I run a fansite for a friend (not Miley Cyrus). Please DON'T pretend to be her. It's not the same thing as being Santa because Miley Cyrus does exist. From my experience, there have been people that have claimed to be my friend/know my friend and have promised people odd things, or given them false contact details. Then the victims get back to us, accuse us of not following up with things, and things get messy.

$30 is cheap for a fanclub membership (I was a member of a few fanclubs over time). I think she would greatly appreciate that. Also, from my experience, being a member of the fanclub gives you more opportunities to contact the artist, and even meet them - so in the long run it likely works better.
posted by divabat at 3:35 AM on November 23, 2008

First Santa does exist!, maybe not in the form we believed in childhood, but Santa does exist in some form. Miley Cyrus is a real physical person don't be a fraud and fake a letter. Send a letter from your friend's daughter, a photo, a SASE, and make sure to put a short nicely typed cover letter that is the first thing that the cubicle dweller will see. Consider something like:

Dear Ms Cyrus:

My friend's daughter is ... & loves your work.

She would love to receive something from you.

Please find the enclosed photo and letter from ___.

Thank You,

posted by RobGF at 6:47 PM on November 25, 2008

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