The term “role model” can be defined as a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, while the word “celebrity” may be defined as a famous or well-known person. Contrary to popular belief, “role model” and “celebrity” do not always go hand in hand, and when it comes to Miley Cyrus, they may as well stay on their respected sides of the dictionary as far as I am concerned.
Miley Ray Cyrus, birth name Destiny Hope Cyrus, got her big break in 2006 landing the starring role as Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, portraying a pop star juggling a double life. The show aired for four seasons, and from its success emerged yet another Disney sweetheart to add to the pile, in turn, Miley became a role model for young girls. Recently, though, Miley seems to have set aside her responsibilities as a role model, deciding it was time to prove that “Smiley Miley” has in fact grown up.
The Video Music Awards aired this summer on Aug. 25 and Miley followed Lady Gaga’s opening act. I was excited for the performance. In a sense, I have grown up with Miley – for a time even idolized her myself. Her summer hit “We Cant Stop” played as she stepped out of a robotic teddy bear seductively, wearing a gray leotard, flickering her tongue at the audience. From that point on, the performance was not only a jaw-dropper, but inappropriate – I felt violated, miles away from the stage.
In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar Miley explains, “I was an adult when I was supposed to be a kid. So now I’m an adult and I’m acting like a kid.”
I find this statement particularly interesting in light of her VMA performance. Children are generally portrayed as naive, innocent and pure, while Miley is now portrayed as anything but as she groped her private parts, smacked her dancers’ backsides, and used a foam finger to suggest sexual interactions with Robin Thicke during their duet of his chart-topper “Blurred Lines.” There is a difference between thinking outside the box and leaping out of it, buzzing off your hair and taking off your clothes in the process. Miley has taken the all too common “shock factor” from the artistic rebellion we’ve seen from Madonna, Britney Spears and Lady Gaga to careless vulgarity.
What viewers witnessed from her stage performance at the VMA’s was not the first time Miley earned buzz about her transformation from all-American girl to wild child. We first saw a slight change once her third album “Can’t Be Tamed” was released in 2010, but the real head turner was Miley’s dramatic haircut. Of course, physical changes happen every day, but for those of us used to her long brunette locks it was a surprise. The transformation was complete with her newest songs “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” off her new album “Bangerz” to be released on Oct. 4. The songs are catchy as always, but the videos are nothing short of raunchy. “We Can’t Stop” is a declaration of independence, while “Wrecking Ball” talks about a love lost. Both exceptionally good songs with music videos that belong in the trash – a compilation of partying and what could be considered close to pornographic material.
Miley may be a celebrity, but her days of being a role model have come to a close. Being comfortable in your sexuality, secure in the person you are and being able to accomplish these things through art is something to look up to. Exploiting your body for attention, having confidence turn to arrogance and using these aspects in art to prove “maturity” is not.
During her interview with Bazaar, Miley also commented on Justin Bieber’s own new attitude and actions, advising “…you need to take a break so you can be crazy, and people aren’t going to judge you. You’re going to do dumb stuff from here on out. But do it on your own time.” Maybe it’s time Miley took her own advice.