The night Miley Cyrus released her first all-grown-up music video changed my life. The release–which officially separated the legal adult from the once Disney Channel star–was one full of emotional turmoil for me. I was in Savannah, Georgia, stopping in a hotel for the evening on my family’s trip back home to Florida from a road trip along the east coast. I watched the video repeatedly, intrigued by the former teen star’s transformation. Miley’s attempt at twerking, and her unconvincing depiction of a good girl gone bad left me completely mesmerized–but mostly confused. Hannah Montana was the show to watch on television for a season, and I supported everything Miley did for quite some time, even if it seemed risque to the parents who were buying their little girls as much Hannah Montana memorabilia their money could buy. With Miley only a couple years older than me and coming off as a fun, bubbly character, I felt we had some sort of camaraderie, even if it was one she was not aware of in the slightest.
The video for “We Can’t Stop” showed me otherwise, however. As much as I wanted to be able to identify with and enjoy what Miley Cyrus was attempting to portray, I got the feeling that she had not slightest idea either. Amid the skulls made of French fries, massive teddy bear backpacks and horrendous tongue-flashing courtesy of Miss Cyrus, there were several scenes of the aforementioned poorly-executed twerking, some of which featured black women doing the same.
Not only was this bogus and contrived video hard to watch, it also felt bastardizing. The black women did not get to participate in scenes where Miley would horse around in the pool with friends. All they had permission to do was twerk and gape at Miley as she wiggled her lower back. For a moment, I thought that perhaps being offended was immature, or that maybe I was reaching for something that wasn’t really there, but as time went on I realized that Miley is a disaster with an unforgivably bad publicist and no sense of self; she’s trying so hard to convince us is that she knows who she is that she is torpedoing her own career and has become the most obnoxious parody of herself possible.
Over time, the evidence against her began to pile up in the case of Miley Cyrus vs Everyone With Common Sense as she continued to offend, disgust, and annoy with her habitual use of black women as props, her belief that anyone cares that she smokes weed, and even her support of a notoriously abusive man in the entertainment industry. In mid-October of last year, an image was added to Instagram of a doe-eyed Miley donned in a white wig and black t-shirt stating “I was touched by Terry”–as in Terry Richardson, a photographer who has been accused by many female celebrities of sexual harassment over at least twenty years. How could anyone think that it would be appropriate–while trying to forge your own path apart from Billy Ray’s money–to mock other female singers and actresses that you will want to get along with once you see that you’ve gone from 27.9 million Instagram followers to 2 million in three years because no one cares anymore? (But in all actuality, people will continue to care, because it’s hard not to watch Miley Cyrus set a flame to her own “empire”).
Initially, I thought that all we would be getting from Miley was this faux-twerking that just would not improve over the years (why can’t ol girl just watch some tutorials on YouTube?), and that her unnecessary proclamations of her love of cannabis would never cease. I thought we’d reluctantly learn to live with it, but her co-signing a rapist was a tell-all of who this woman really is; or rather, who she’s trying to be.
Miley Cyrus seems to be under the impression that we don’t understand her, but the truth is quite the contrary. We get her all too well, and knowing what she’s about is knowing that she isn’t about anything at all. Not that every celebrity must have some grand philosophy that they always abide by, nor must they take a firm political stand even with their clothing–but Miley Cyrus’ complete lack of character causes her to say and do so many deluded, disrespectful things.
Not only did she objectify black womens’ bodies and used them as something to merely gaze at, but at the VMAs, she went as far as parading drag queens on stage during her performance of her new single entitled “Dooo It!” The audience erupted once they entered the stage, but Twitter and the rest of the Internet was outraged by Cyrus’ decision to use yet another marginalized group as a prop. And I say “marginalized group” very cautiously, because it’s not a secret that the culture of drag queens is mostly an off limits, after-dark-only sort of practice. It’s mostly for show. Drag queens are much less taboo than trans women are because of the over the top flamboyance and campy humor, and this makes it easy difficult for transgender women to get the respect that they want and deserve. It allows those who do not understand trans women to substitute who they really are with the outrageous antics of drag queens.
Although she’s labeled herself as pansexual and admitted to having difficulties understanding her own gender identity at a younger age, spectacles like these make it clear that Miley Cyrus still has a very marginal understanding of anything regarding the LGBTQ community. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would want their queer icon to be a woman who lets transgender people (mostly transgender women) speak prior to her performance, only to have their speech invalidated and be followed by thirty gay men dressed in drag dancing alongside said icon, especially when gay men tend to be just as transphobic and hateful of transgender women as anyone else, if not more? This is not to say that all drag queens (and/or effeminate gay men) are transphobic or are merely here to undermine the experiences of the transgender community.
What makes this so hard to stomach, though, is how Miley seems totally clueless to the history of the people she seems to want to support. On the one hand, she has a foundation that is supposed to help find housing for queer youth, but on the other hand, she doesn’t even seem to take these youth very seriously. Miley Cyrus, from what we can see thus far, is only an activist for the fun of it; she’s in it for the glitz and glam and the ballroom music, and essentially for the sake of making a spectacle of a community that just wants acceptance and a place to lay their heads at night. Everything she does is for the sake of being ironic.
It’s impossible to take Miley Cyrus seriously because she’s made a habit of mocking the lives and experiences of other people, she’s become wealthy from her tacky vulgarity, and, to make matters worse, she released an album called Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz–an all too long album with as much presence as a silent fart and half-assed production from Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips (who, if I’m not mistaken, she considers to be, like, the reincarnation of her dead dog?).
Miley Cyrus has completely butchered her career; from her slandering of black women, to her wild 8th grader attitude, to her blatantly disrespect of the LGBTQ community, she’s just a disaster. She also seems to believe she invented smoking weed. And the most embarrassing part of it all? Her music isn’t even good enough to make it okay.
(Title image via).