Miley Cyrus has done a lot this year. She’s shown her hipbones, twerked, and stuck her tongue out more times than one can count. From her notorious VMA performance to her scandalous Terry Richardson photo-shoot (complete with a red thong onesie and an intimately placed can of Arizona Iced Tea), Cyrus has transformed herself from the innocent Hannah Montana child pop star we once knew. This year has not only brought her the most fame she’s ever received, but also the most critiques.
She’s been called everything from “a terrible role model for children” to a “crazy, naked psychopath.” The best part is that no matter how many tweets or YouTube comments are made, she doesn’t care. In fact, the entire buzz around Cyrus is only giving her more success, making her recent album, Bangerz, #1 on the Billboard 200 within the first week of its release. She’s even in the running for Time’s Person of the Year. However, many of the naysayers fail to realize that Cyrus might actually be a better role model than most.
Miley Cyrus’ new image may not be appropriate, she may have bad taste, and she might not be America’s ideal “sweetheart”, but one cannot ignore the confidence, drive to succeed, and creativity this girl has. Cyrus’ take-it-or-leave-it attitude is exactly what society preaches to young girls: to love yourself despite others’ opinions and to not feel the pressure to conform. We cannot criticize Cyrus for being a confident young woman and expressing herself freely while simultaneously claiming that this is what the younger generations lack. It is also admirable that Cyrus is doing more than making music—she’s establishing herself as an artist and freely expressing herself. Her album is just one aspect of “The Movement.” In her MTV documentary, she says, “For me, the movement needs to be bigger than just a record. For me, a movement is something that represents taking over the world.” Her pushing past boundaries and social standards is part of this “taking over the world.”
People need to get over the hype. Yes, Cyrus inappropriately used a foam finger on stage in front of millions of young viewers. But do you remember what Madonna, Lady Gaga, and Britney Spears did? Performing acts of masturbation on stage, wearing raw meat, and making out with a 50-something pop star on stage got people angry too. And now they’re pop stars. Cyrus isn’t doing anything new. She’s just expressing herself creatively and making a spot for herself in the gleaming hall of fame that is pop-dom.
Cyrus represents arguably America’s most celebrated right: the right to free speech. As she said in her MTV documentary, “We’re in 2013. I live in America. We’re the land of the free and I feel like if you can’t express yourself, you’re not very free.” What may have started out as a public announcement of her metamorphosis from Hannah Montana has turned into a statement about the woman and artist she is today. Cyrus herself admits that she’s not acting as a role model or an adult, and that she’s purely interested doing what she wants when she wants. She may not be perfect, but there is something to be said for a 20-year-old that is able to so boldly be proud of who she is and what she has to say.
There are lessons to be learned in the confidence and, quite frankly, balls that Cyrus brings to the table. She may not have the respect Madonna and Lady Gaga have achieved yet, but before we roll our eyes another time and sigh at Cyrus’s antics, let’s remember that she is pushing the envelope in an already over-sexed, overdone world. She is here to start “the Movement,” and while we may not see the big picture yet, and are clearly quick to judge, the success Cyrus has had in the last year indicates she’s at least not entirely crazy.
If you were hoping 2014 would be a year free from a twerking Cyrus, think again. This pop diva isn’t going anywhere but up. Didn’t you hear her? She “can’t stop.”