The Melodrama of Miley Cyrus

Cover artwork for “Meet Miley Cryus” (2007) and “Can’t Be Tamed” (2010)

There is nothing lovely about Miley Cyrus. She lacks the decorum of decent public self-possession. Her acting is postured and preening, her singing shrill. She shows no sign of exemplary intellect. She lisps.

Yet, in spite of herself, this not-yet-legal lass, this multimedia megastar, this triple-threat tart, has an adoring fan-base and a ludicrously lucrative career.

And the reason for all her sensation and success should come as no surprise because for as long as there’ve been lollypops to lick and pom-poms to shake, we’ve been weak-kneed and warm for little girls. Which, with all her popular-girl prettiness, is exactly what Miley is. She is boozy lips and bright eyes and a ponytail of thick hair befitting its coltish name; she is bubbly and babbling and baby-fat and push-up bras. She’s a sex-kitten in the truest sense of the word.

And she knows it.

That is why, two years back, a digital video of Miley’s derrière grinding against the crotch of Adam Shankman (her 44-year old producer) spread like wildfire — or herpes — across the internet; it’s why the former Hannah Montana star struts across stages and red-carpets and LA sidewalks in outfits cut down to there and up to there; and it’s why girls of twelve and guys of questionable intent spend big money and long hours just to watch this wild-child wunderkind sing syrupy songs about some boyfriend she probably never had.

But, in a world that craves and covets pretty babies like Miley, is it indeed so very wrong for little girls in the limelight to exploit their big-girl sex-appeal for pay? Is it fair for their kiddie-careers to be so picked-on and politicized?

After the notoriously nefarious Perez Hilton posted an up-skirt image of Miley’s naked nether-regions on his eponymous e-tabloid, media mouths and news networks brought unforeseen legal mishigas to the heretofore fun-and-games of gossip.

Unfortunately for Perez, Miley is just five months shy of her 18th birthday — a veritable La-La Land Lolita — which makes publishing pictures of her private-parts, among other things, a federal offense.

The charges went un-filed; presumably, Miley was too busy hosting Canada’s Much Music Video Awards — in a lily-white leotard and, really, little else — to bother with civil proceedings. Besides, bad press is one thing — laconically put: lucrative; but really bad press (i.e. jailing the press itself) is another.

And Miley, being a dog, does not bite the hand that feeds.

All that aside, all the cavorting and carousing and louche lack of composure, still I can’t help but question if a produced-and-packed kinderwhore like Miley ought to provoke such Polanskiesque problems for
Perez?

I mean not to sound obtuse, but why shouldn’t young and attractive girls celebrate their sexuality? Why shouldn’t Miley make the most of what she’s got?

For reasons more societal than singular, it is flat out fickle that we will cause commotion over cleavage-baring costumes on sixteen-year-olds and yet find no fault in doing the same thing to our own too-young children. We dress them up in frills and feathers, prime them for pageants which award crowns and cash-prizes to the loveliest Paris Hilton in Pampers; we tell them they’re made of sugar and spice and everything nice, and we believe it.

But as soon as it’s someone else’s daughter, as soon as the girl in the diamonds and dishabille is on stage performing for fans and not gilt crowns or savings bonds, it is so easy to put her on blast, point disapproving fingers, call her classless, trashy, a train-wreck: a slut.

Make no mistake: I find Miley’s peep-show performance and public presentation no more appealing or appropriate than any other right-minded (and culturally critical) media consumer out there — but I do think the girl has a right to shimmy-shake and showcase what her mama gave her.

If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Right?

It is wrong to disparage and discredit Miley for displaying her nubile bod, or for swapping G-ratings for G-strings because criticizing an artist for her appearance is entirely antithema: Tits-and-Ass is beside the point in a list replete with qualities which would probably make for a rather salable song-and-dance review (e.g., her too-hyped talent and her toe in every watering-hole of consumable culture).

This is not to importune that we should be blind of eye and kind of heart with regards to any pop-tart barely out the gate of girlhood — that would be just too boring. But I do think that when a singer or actress or what have you is known more for her taboo behavior than the quality of her work,well, then we have a situation in which the medium has overtaken the message. We will have completely missed the point, and missed out on an opportunity to take in and talk about some either delightful or deplorable entertainment — as the case may be.

Ultimately, if we are so unyieldingly insistent upon ridiculing and rehashing the dénouement of this former-Disney-darling, let the discourse — defamation? — at least fall on a subject deserving of serious dirty-talk: Never before have more laughable and lame lyrics been set to music than those that are shilled at a Miley Cyrus concert. TC mark

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