At the Teen Choice Awards in 2009, Miley Cyrus stirred up a controversy over her performance of “Party in the USA”. Four years later, Cyrus has thrown herself into a similar predicament.
At MTV’s recent Video Music Awards, Cyrus brought her best to stage: impressive “twerking”, a skimpy semi-nude outfit and a foam finger prop, which she put to lewd uses. Until now, I had been ambivalent towards Cyrus, even standing up for her on occasion. Since the end of Hannah Montana, Cyrus has made it clear she is not going to be a fresh faced, innocent Disney star—and I accept that. She’s an independent artist, and has the right to make her own decisions. Her former antics highlighted her individuality in the music industry. But in her latest attempt to shed her “Hannah Montana” image, Cyrus has gone too far. She has resorted to being “crass” rather than “classy”.
As the lyrics of “We Can’t Stop” illustrate, “It’s our party we can do what we want /We don’t take nothing from nobody,” Cyrus clearly does not care what others think. Apparently, neither does her father, who said in an interview with Nancy O’Dell, “She’s still my Miley…she’s real.” Cyrus’s supporters do not understand why there is such an outrage against her. They say she is young and having fun, and that girls her age do things far worse. They label criticism of her as “slut shaming”, saying people are upset only because Cyrus is being bold and outspoken, instead of demure and submissive.
What implications does Cyrus’s behavior have for our youth? What are younger girls who follow Cyrus supposed to think when they see her music videos and watch her performing in racy outfits broadcasted on national television? Should Cyrus be viewed in a positive light at all? I don’t think so. Sure, teenagers around the world may be doing things much worse. But Cyrus is a celebrity who many young people idolize and look up to. What if young girls begin to confuse Cyrus’s actions for maturity and the line between “maturity” and “class” begins to blur.
Unfortunately, Miley’s behaviour and the response it’s garnered—whether good or bad—speaks volumes about our society. We are to blame for Miley’s spiral into degradation. We idolize her, buy her music and give her the attention she craves. We go to her concerts, scream like imbeciles upon seeing her and push against other crazed fans for her autograph. Yet, at the same time, these same people criticize and humiliate her at every opportunity. Miley is a prime example of the kind of person our culture shapes and molds. Society still hyper sexualizes women, causing Miley to resort to such tactics. And the fact that many easily dismiss her actions shows that we are a society whose culture is highly flawed and is in moral decline.
Written by ZILIN ZHOU