Miley Cyrus posed topless, wore a vagina clinging red leotard, and smoked a blunt for Terry Richardson. “She’s out of control,” literally everyone says about Miley Cyrus. Look, being “out of control,” and tacky are not the same thing. Miley Cyrus is not out of control she is crass. She is crassly trying to find an identity at an age (twenty) where that is difficult. She is experimenting with drugs like weed and molly but is not a drug addict, a practice common during one’s early twenties that usually results in little consequence for most. She is expressing her sexuality in a way that is harmless because wearing little to no clothing is literally harmless. Albeit she is doing all of these things in a way that is crass, in a way that lacks graceful articulation and sometimes tact. That is the normal behavior of someone who is twenty.
Twenty-year-olds say dumb things all the time, they also do profoundly smart things like invent Facebook, even if one of the greatest contributions to culture was achieved to impress some girl who called you a nerd. That is what being young is. It’s a mix of being completely uncouth and raw, while learning to master your craft and grow into the kind of person who would eventually look back at pictures of vagina leotards and cringe knowingly because you are no longer that person although you are probably glad that you were that girl because you couldn’t become this woman other wise.
Everyone is a little too hasty to judge Miley, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. She is not accountable for being a role model, it’s a parent’s job to be a role model not some random girl that a child has never met. Miley Cyrus is not under contract with Disney, she is not marketing herself as someone who is here to save the children, she is asserting herself as someone who is young and experimental which is why she resonates with so many people her age.
The ever-so irrelevant Sinead O’ Connor wrote a letter to Miley Cyrus offering advice she never asked for. She wrote, “Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.”
Miley Cyrus never said “value my tits over my music.” However, she does make music and does use her sexuality as a part of her performance. In a culture where women are called, “sluts” because they wear short skirts, it is empowering for a woman to expose her body, to admit she likes boning and to use her body as an instrument, when women have a long history (like you know all of history) of being sexually repressed. Yes, I wish Miley had more finesse but c’mon. It is not that serious.
No, she is not everyone’s cup of tea. Her behavior, as I said before, is crass. For some she is the girl at the party that you’d die to be friends with and for others she is the girl at the party you are throwing shade on because “it’s not that serious that you need to be wearing that.” That’s OK. It’s OK that you don’t like Miley and it’s OK that you love her but it’s not ok to diminish her identity or dismiss her behavior as someone who is out of control when she is not out of control.
Have you ever seen Maury? There are teenage girls having sex with dozens of men for cheeseburgers. There are teenagers who hit their parents. There are ones on steady paths to juvenile detention centers or prison. There are also, and by no means am I comparing these teenagers to criminals, but there are teenagers who self harm, who are bullies and bullied, who have real addictions, eating disorders and mental illnesses. There are teenagers out there who need real help, who have real issues and who are behaving in a way that is out of control.
Miley Cyrus doesn’t need to be controlled. She is in absolute control of her image. She is behaving in away that is absolutely counter to her Disney pop, wholesome image and yes, that is “trying too hard,” and yes that is “annoying,” and yes that is very, very tacky at times but it is not out of control that is simply a highly public struggle to be self-aware. There is nothing more self-aware than knowing who you have been, how you have been perceived and where you have come from and then putting forth the effort to subvert that image and transform yourself.
This twenty-year-old Miley is not the final incarnation of Miley Cyrus it is Miley Cyrus in beta testing. Is Miley Cyrus an attention whore? Yes but it’s her job to be an attention whore. It’s her job to stay relevant. Of course she is releasing these pictures, her album just came out. It’s her job to be famous and to have her image everywhere. Is she tacky? Fuck yes. She has a piece of fabric up her coochie and if Michael Kors saw that outfit on Project Runway he would call her a “ballerina prostitute,” or something. Does she say dumb, annoying things sometimes? Yes, we all do. Does she say thoughtful, insightful things sometimes? Yes, we all do. Is she out of control? No. Until I hear reports of Miley Cyrus showing up late to work, starting feuds with Paris Hilton, getting DUIs or heading to rehab, like Lindsay Lohan, Robert Downey Jr., Charlie Sheen or other control stars have in the past, I have no reason to believe she isn’t just a girl who likes fashion, hip hop and taking stupid pictures.
Being annoyed with Miley is fine. Don’t talk to her at parties. Throw a little side eye at her when you see her at the mall but calling someone “crazy” or “out of control” when their behavior is typical reduces a person and undermines what is actually out of control behavior.