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Go ahead, scroll to the bottom of the page and comment on how anything related to pop-culture numbs the mind, diverts us from real issues, or how anything I write will ultimately disappoint my parents. You think I don’t know that?
But for the sake of killing a few brain cells, let’s discuss. Here’s what Miley, Selena, and Ariana have in common: They’re each about 21 years old, have about 10 million Instagram followers, and are musicians who began as child actors.
If we’ve learned anything from the child stars who’ve burned too quickly through their frontal lobes, it’s that raising one is like raising a baby Neo. Morpheus is the talent manager, the Oracle is the child’s therapist, and Trinity will be the third marriage. But in this world, the ‘agents’ are the paparazzi who know the child is but a fuel source to power the machines and distract the masses. Everyone back in Zion is asking the same questions:
“Are they the one? Are they the child star who emerges from the Mickey Mouse Club with enough talent to bring sexy back? Or will they take the blue pill and all other pills?”
The parallels are endless; that’s why I’ve decided to spare you the hindsight-bias and answer those questions by combining my perceptiveness with their Instagrams:
3rd Place: Ariana Grande
I’m not sure if her 12-year-old personality is a marketing strategy to gather a younger audience or not. What I am sure of is that there’s one type I can’t stand, it’s the Daisy from The Great Gatsby,
“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
That type is both boring and annoying. I don’t buy it. Sure, she has an impressive — albeit nasally — vocal range, but the modern princess attitude fosters an extrinsic motivation.
I get the feeling she’s just going to sit and smile until someone hands her lyrics, then she’ll sing them and upload a selfie. And that’s part of the problem; her Instagram is focused almost entirely on herself and not the other things contributing to her success: her fans, producers, managers, etc. There’s a lack of appreciative humility that rubs me the wrong way.
Even for her mother, who texted Ariana saying,
Are you kidding me? How can that possibly be an acceptable response to your mother’s confession of her love? That screenshot got half a million likes. Yeah, I’m bitter about it. She’s so one-dimensional, I have nothing else to say, which is why she gets third place.
2nd Place: Miley Cyrus
She’s second place, but a damn close second. She gets heat because everyone thinks she’s crazy and tries too hard to be ‘controversial,’ but isn’t that what the people want? Do we have any right to impose our ideals because children might be following her? Not unless we want to challenge some conventional ideas of parenting. After studying her Instagram, it became clear Miley doesn’t give a shit; she’s absolutely shameless.
There’s something strangely refreshing about it. As everyone else tries to project this socially-acceptable image of a baby-kissing republican, Miley’s posting pictures wearing no makeup or with a mouthful of chewed food. It makes me wonder; if I were an artist worth millions, would I be that weird? That absolute lack of insecurities must feel phenomenal.
I give her second place because she’s flying through the ‘identity crisis’ stage, and doing so a little too close to the sun. She’s a talented singer/songwriter who’s grown up in a family of musicians, and as her personal style changes along with her music, she’s become pop-culture’s ‘wild card.’
If we look back at the history of musicians who pushed the art in a different direction, most were relatively unstable. Miley’s instability doesn’t feel forced, and if she combines her fearlessness with her passion for music, I think she might surprise us.
1st Place: Selena Gomez
When you’re a few years older than these rising pop-stars, it’s hard to look at their lives without hating them. Selena engenders no such feeling.
She has an Instagram video of herself shopping at Target with a friend, and at one point she says,
“What else do we need… Oooh! Hot Cheetos!”
Come on, do you not love her? She posts pictures of herself with fans from every city on her tour; a genuine reciprocation and gratitude for their support.
Still don’t love her? Consider this, Justin Bieber recently posted a picture hugging Selena with the caption,
“Our love is unconditional”
And as many of us seem to have an unhealthy delight in Justin Bieber’s potential demise, is Selena so heaven-sent that she knows she might be one of the few people left — willing and capable, no less — of getting through to him? Of turning his life around for the better? That’s saintlike compassion.
I tried digging up dirt, but even the article on her not-really-nude silhouette photo had this to say:
“Leave it to Selena Gomez to take the ever-popular, semi-naked celeb selfie and turn it into something artsy and visually arresting in a classic and classy way.”
Her marketability only increases her value as an actor, and although it’ll take some time before she sheds her typecast as the ‘Disney star,’ she had an impressively dynamic and memorable performance in 2012’s Spring Breakers.
The pieces are all there; artistic sensibilities, a faithful fan base, and a warm, mature demeanor that’s both relatable and well composed. The only question left is ‘how high can she fly?’ Fly, Selena, fly.