Type Miley Cyrus's name into Google and the first suggestion you get is 'twerking' aka the dance move that Cyrus turned into a phenomenon through various obscure videos. Search her on Twitter and you're bombarded with fans and foes alike sharing news items and pictures all similarly titled 'OMG look what Miley has done now.' Cyrus, with her skimpy outfits and ballsy personality, has become the new wild child; an ex-Disney darling who's shed her Hannah Montana chains in the most extreme way possible. Cyrus has become a media byword for easy column inches; a story of Miley Cyrus will produce instant discussion and instant hits. The shame of this is that Cyrus has become dependent on these hits and gossip, distracting commentators from her actual profession, a singer. A job that she is actually pretty good at.
Cyrus has become a punching bag for writer after writer whose opinions boil down to little more than hypocrisy and toffee nosed eye rolling. As media consumers we have witnessed the pop star grown from 14 year old prodigy into a young woman with too much money and too much media exposure. We judge Cyrus because she has been offered on a platter to us by the gods of showbiz, yet fail to reflect on our own teenage years or the difficulty we faced without having 10 million people following your every instagram post. As nobodies we are granted the privilege of our close friends remembering that time we chucked our bra on a lamppost or your ex boyfriend remembering when you took a vitamin pill thinking it was E. She isn’t granted this anonymity, and thus her growing pains are spread across the internet as if nobody has ever seen a woman who’s had a couple too many vodka tonics before.
And Miley realises the media power she has and as a young person with probably some very poor advisors around her she attempts to build on this warped concept of fame through her music videos and photo shoots. I really doubt that her video for ‘Wrecking Ball’ was anything but an attempt to create waves and fuel gossip columns. Christ, she could have just done a Celine Dion style black and white ballad shot, but no. Cyrus’s popularity, fan base and therefore album sales are all linked to her viral commodity. Her affiliation with the infamous Terry Richardson is shocking and deplorable. Miley doesn’t care about the means because she’s all about the final product which, when working with Richardson, is instantly viral photos. Miley’s fan are the generation that grew up with viral marketing, that watched Britney Spears shave off her hair and attack a car with an umbrella. They’re the car crash porn hub era that don’t respond to anything unless it shocks them. Cyrus with her nude leotards and tongue waggling antics has tapped this market.
When criticising Miley we all too quickly forget that her behaviour is exactly same as the ‘pop princesses’ who came before her. Didn’t Britney and Christina both start as child stars only to change their images with overtly sexual albums and public performances? Who can forget Ms Aguilera’s crotchless pants in the video for ‘Dirrty’ or Britney’s suggestive writhing in ‘Slave 4 U.’ Cryus is simply taken the well beaten path of child stars before her in attempting to adult up her image. Unfortunately media coverage has grown extensively since the days of her predecessors and she is the victim of a world with 24 hour media coverage.
What makes this ever more frustrating is the talent that lies beneath her bleached, tattooed exterior. Whilst anyone over the age of 21 immediately dismissed her album Bangerz as garbage, the album is actually a promising piece of musicality that has been woefully overshadowed by foam fingers and Robin Thicke. The first single released ‘We Can’t Stop’ delivers everything you’d expect from a good pop record, and live versions of the track, such as her accapella performance on Jimmy Fallon, have proved Cyrus’ vocal credentials. Earlier offerings from her pre-twerking days, such as 2009’s ‘Party In The USA’ and ‘The Climb’ were yet again solid pop records the garnered critical appraisal as well as a Grammy nomination for the latter. She is a solid pop performer in an era when the twee pop scene is a forgotten relic. Perhaps if she had been born ten or fifteen years earlier she would have been embraced by the sugary pop bosom of the 90s that performers such as Mandy Moore and Faith Hill revelled in.
Miley Cyrus is a performer of the social media generation; her popularity and image thrives on the instant gratification delivered by today’s media and the demand this creates in consumers. Which is a shame since she is a valid performer in her own right and deserves more credit for her artistic abilities. This is less a plea to ‘LEAVE MILEY ALONE’ and more a lament of how our appetite for destruction is ruining real talent.