The following commentary comes from a guest contributor to EOTM Media Group. If you are interested in becoming a contributor, contact: Contributions@EOTMBlog(dot)com.
By Jean Chapman
There are some celebrities that, despite their negative press, you can’t help but continue to root for them. Usually, it’s those who are clearly dealing with their own demons. It’s a fine line between acting out as a cry for help and acting out for the sake of attention, and generally the public seems to have a grasp on the difference. When celebrities like Britney Spears, Amanda Bynes, and even Charlie Sheen seemed to be struggling, more often than not they evoked empathy (rather than irritation) whenever a new headline would pop up about their behavior.
Then there are the celebrities that seem to crave the public’s collective eye-roll at the mention of their name—Justin Bieber, Kanye West, and pretty much the whole Kardashian crew. They don’t say and do odd things because they need help. Most of their actions that raise eyebrows are nothing more than the result of extreme vanity and over-inflated egos.
Case in point—Miley Cyrus.
Given her actions in the last few years, it’s no surprise that the singer has achieved quite the collection of negative headlines. While there’s always that tinge of nostalgia that makes you hope that a child star will actually be able to keep their shit together when they get older, it’s pretty hard to defend someone like Miley who continuously does the opposite.
When she first started on her determined path to break her good-girl image, it was met with a collective reply of Okay, we get what you’re doing. It’s been done. However, it was matched with a hefty amount of Not-uh! This is just me now! from Cyrus. She continued to try and shock us with overly sexualized videos, drug paraphernalia and so many other “mature” things that would take far too long to fully recap.
The more she reiterated that she didn’t care what anyone thought, the more her actions showed her desire for attention, and her 2013 VMA performance solidified her thinly veiled need. It was full of twerking, large teddy bears, skimpy outfits, and a whole lot of tongue. Most online publications called the performance appalling, inappropriate and offensive, but most of the peanut gallery found it nothing more than awkward. It wasn’t sexy or exciting. It was just really uncomfortable to watch.
Again, the breaking-out-as-a-woman routine had already been done. If her intention was to mirror Britney Spears at the VMAs in 2000, it didn’t work. While Spears’ performance was also met with controversy, there’s no denying that it was sexy. Miley’s on the other hand was also met with criticism from censorship committee, but more so from people just laughing at her. Buzzfeed even did a compilation of how each move from Cyrus at the VMAs was a complete failure.
Some believe that she really is just a stupid kid acting out in obvious ways after years of being told what to do from managers, organizations, and the like. And that’s fine. However, others see her behavior purely as a business move, assuming that Cyrus is of the mind that “all press is good press.” For the latter group, the real question is: Despite doing all of this for publicity, was it really necessary for her to go as far as she did?
It could be argued that after her stint on Disney, this was her best course of action for staying in the spotlight. And it’s a fair point. As with many pop stars, the focus isn’t their vocal talent but being the whole package. Of course you have to be able to do more than carry a tune. However, unless your range is matching that of Adele, you have to be good looking, entertaining, and ignite intangible buzz that’s crucial to a star’s success.
While there’s no denying that Cyrus is talented, you likely won’t see the headline “Miley Cyrus Performance Moves Crowd to Tears” anytime soon. With that in mind, her options are limited. And in Hollywood, the easiest course of action to get your name in the news is through negative means. These days, being happy and healthy doesn’t sell nearly as well as a DUI or a leaked sex tape.
The fact of the matter is she’s not stupid. Yes, she’s rubbed her gentiles with foam fingers, been very vocal about her love of the ganja, and shaved half her head. She has even over-sexualized herself to the point where her actions inspired an adult film. Seriously! Fashioned after Cyrus’ latest moves and her very revealing “Wrecking Ball” is the film Molly’s Wrecking Ballz. According to Adam and Eve, the movie highlight “Molly”‘s twerking skills in addition to sexual run-ins with “Robin Thick” and “Beyonca.” Yeah, we get what they’re going for. Anyway, Cyrus at least doesn’t have a sex tape to her name (yet?) and she has stayed relatively out of trouble criminally speaking. Criticism aside, her record is fairly clean.
However, even her craziest actions are no longer met with surprise. Instead, she’s getting doses of indifference. It’s the same conundrum that Lady Gaga has faced. After years of shocking audiences with dresses of meat, embracing a male alter ego that she called Jo Calderone, and “hatching” out of giant egg on stage, her antics now aren’t rewarded with headlines like they were in the past. In fact, her recent actions of resorting to letting someone throw up on her during an “artistic” performance only got people talking about how she was desperate for attention.
So what is an attention-hungry Cyrus to do when her actions are met with a unanimous “WTF” anymore? Do a 180 and turn into a humanitarian.
Although she wasn’t performing, she attended the recent MTV Video Music Awards because she was nominated for several awards. Her appearance had some wondering what could be expected from Cyrus after last year’s events. And when she was awarded “Video of the Year,” she pulled a Marlon Brando and had a homeless man, Jesse Helt, accept the award on her behalf. He give a quick speech about helping homeless youth while the camera focused on Cyrus wiping away tears on the side of the stage.
Bustle said that responses to the decision were mixed, but many accused her of exposing her date for nothing more than a publicity stunt. Deadline said she “stole the show” without even appearing on stage. They even said that the stunt was more talked about than Nicki Minaj’s “accidental” wardrobe malfunction, which was quickly debunked as completely intentional.
Whether or not the stunt was disingenuous, Cyrus was able to contrive a way of using her platform for something good. Whether we can expect more actions like from her in the future remains to be seen, but I can guarantee she’d gain a lot more fans by doing positive things for a change.
What do you think? Is she genuinely turning a new leaf? Or have the past two years been nothing more than an elaborate lead up to a bait-and-switch?
Guest post by Jean Chapman. She loves following and writing about the latest news in pop culture while sipping tea and watching ‘Fashion Police.’ She lives in New York with her boyfriend, cat (Frank), and dog (Chuck).