Counterpoint: In Defense of Miley



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Chances are, you dear reader, saw, read or heard something regarding the performance Miley Cyrus gave at the VMA’s this past weekend. Much slack has been gifted upon Miley within the last 24 hours. Instead of criticism, there is reason to applaud and celebrate her performance.

Miley is a living petri dish of the combusting combination that is fame mixed with coming of age. We as the public, feel the right to watch her transition for our own entertainment value (think: wealth of water cooler small talk) her growing pains provide.

Miley has the blessing and the curse of growing up in the public eye. She is experiencing the raw, painful, and confusing transition to adulthood in front of our eyes. She is blazing a path for herself, unabashedly so. I think if many of us were teen pop stars, we would act the same way. Why can’t we celebrate her fierce and tenacious run towards her new self? Why can’t we, instead of criticizing, applaud her for the brave and bold stance she is taking in her new found identity?

Why must we put a limit on the amount she is allowed to explore herself? Why should there be realms?

Lots more rhetorical questions to come. Sorry, folks.

Her performance was in no doubt sexual — can’t we celebrate her feminity and sexuality? She is no longer a boxed in, sexually smothered youth controlled by the pressure society places on her. Her performance was a blatant mix of youth, with teddy bears and backpacks (this may very likely also be a drug reference I’m too naïve to know) and adulthood with the declaration of her body and ownership expressed in her movements with and without Robin Thicke. In less than six minutes, she declares her youth as recognized but dismissed, and her growth (complete with sexual adulation) to be real, with her captive audience as the witnesses. The circle of sisterhood is broad and supportive of all types of womanhood – we must support all as they take their own journey to their evolving selves, so let’s stop the hate and begin to love and commend.

She owns the night like she owns this transition — she seems bold and wise enough to not let the negativity turn into a dark night of her life — she don’t take nothing from nobody, It’s her party she does what she wants to. So we must let her. We must let her continue to be raw, and to evolve. If someone told you to stay as you were at 16, at 19, at 20, for the rest of your life, to never continue to evolve, and to always fit a certain stunted mold, wouldn’t you try to fight and resist that anyway you could? Wouldn’t such an expectation make you angry? She has every logical right to act as she has. In fact, considering all, it may be the most normal transformation we could have expected of her. She’s being raw, and refusing to mold to a cookie cutter she could never wholly fit. Let her be the wild friend you live vicariously through. Let her be the Samantha Jones of our generation. (I refuse to make a “she’s just being Miley” reference, so I’ll stop while I’m ahead).

It takes a bravery and confidence that is powerfully inherent to come of age so boldly and fearlessly. She was in the moment, it was hers alone to own. She did just that. The performance has been called many things – bizarre, weird, and illogical, etc. But can’t the experience of coming of age be called just the same? She may have not taken a traditional high school English class, but her exemplification of the metaphor of growing up was loud and clear on that Brooklyn stage.

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10 thoughts on “Counterpoint: In Defense of Miley

  1. I think that the critique of Miley versus Robin Thicke is very gendered and a form of slut shaming and wanting women in the public to be asexual. With that being said I am very critical of Miley’s cultural appropriation of dance associated predominately with black culture and her lack of understanding of why people are upset with her about this appropriation.

    I think a lot of the critiques of Miley come down to racism and that Miley is now acting in a way more associated with blackness. Miley is now behaving in a way that is deemed “inappropriate.” I think race has everything to do with this conversation and we gotta make sure to address that explicitly.


  2. Ilana Ostrin says:

    I didn’t feel informed enough to go into the conversation about her and cultural appropriation, but I do agree that there is truth in that opinion.

    “I think that the critique of Miley versus Robin Thicke is very gendered and a form of slut shaming and wanting women in the public to be asexual. ”

    — absolutely agree with this. Disney especially raises their female child stars to be sweet and dainty, and lacking any other layers.


  3. meganleys says:

    This is going to have to be a short response because I’m at work but thanks llana! I have to admit after watching the performance I definitely did not have the same reaction. My reaction was more a long the lines as Will Smith and his family had when they watched Miley….

    Then I had the same reaction as drake and his friend….

    However I really enjoyed reading this article, it made me look at the situation from a different view, which is always great. I also really liked your comment Sarah, and this it is so important to bring this to the table when talking about the Miley situation, “race has everything to do with this conversation and we gotta make sure to address that explicitly.”


  4. BeauSinchai says:

    Ilana, I agree with you on this. She is the perfect example of how much Disney has ingrained our perception of “what a girl should be”. Social media was flushed with tweets and comments about how they miss the “old Miley” (referring to Hannah Montana, I assume). Thinking about it, we don’t really know what old Miley was like. Who to say that what she is showing now is not the real her, all we have seen was Hannah Montana, a character made perfect by Disney channel.


  5. iodc says:

    I must admit this wasn’t my first reaction to the performance either. However, after seeing all the negativity that immediately followed, I began to wonder why no one was talking about base or plight of the good of this performance.

    The reason for her self expression and rebellion is obvious — it bothers me that we won’t allow her to shift, change, and have her delayed adolescence. It’s as if we are asking her to do it behind closed doors, then emerge once again when she is ready to “act like an adult”. She isn’t going to live a double life as her former character Hannah Montana did — she is going to be forward and honest with her audience, whether we allow her to or not. That takes guts.


  6. lexismanzara says:

    I’m a little late to this – just want to say this article made me stick to my guns against all the Miley slander left and right these days. I love what she stands for and feel like she’s one of the few that really is doing whatever the heck she wants.
    I almost joined the criticism when I saw a clip of her bent over in front of that bastard, BUT reading this made me watch it again and with a different perspective. She’s not at all passive or “domesticated” or nice or quiet or any of the things young women are boxed into.

    As far as the race issue I need to play devil’s advocate. I think she has every right to grind/twirk/whatever all she wants even though it’s considered a “black” dance. I can see why some people would be annoyed, but the criticism is too harsh. I don’t think that her benefitting from it is equivalent to a loss for black culture. Wanting her music to be more black (she said this) might be ignorant overglorification – still, she had dancers, with bodies that are not normally represented, with a tone that was powerful, carefree and positive as oppose to objectifying or demeaning.

    ok rant over sorry 🙂


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