When I was twenty years old, my responsibilities were few. I went to school, went to work, and managed my small amount of money by spending it all on Pay-less Shoes. I grew up in front of my family and the people at my school. Nobody ever followed me around or wanted to take my picture when I went to the grocery store. I dressed in tight clothes and tried my hardest to look sexy. I experimented with fashion, sometimes to my own detriment. That’s what you do in your twenties.
Miley Cyrus will be twenty-one in November. She’s been working as a professional singer/actress since she was nine years-old. She’s grown up in front of a camera and thousands of strangers watching her every move. But she is still just twenty years old. She’s allowed to make bad decisions about her life, her hair, and her career if she wants to. Not that I think she is making bad decisions. I don’t. I give her props. She’s no different than the pop princesses who came before her, shocking old ladies with lewd dance moves and questionable fashion choices.
When Madonna was 20 years old she did a full nude photo-shoot. She was bold, brazen and completely shameless in her quest for fame. And it worked. Madonna was an overnight sensation because she used her sexuality in a new way: On her own terms. Madonna sang songs about sex from a female point of view. This hadn’t really been done before. Female singers sang about love and loss, they sang about romance and passion. They didn’t sing about fucking. Until Madonna came along.
Everything changed when “Like a Virgin” came out. Here was a strong, attractive young woman singing about having hot sex. Make no mistake, she’s not singing about how much she loves him, or how she misses him. She’s singing about how good the sex is. It’s soooo good it makes her feel like a virgin. Implying that she is NOT a virgin. At a time when ladies were singing “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, and “Let’s Hear it For the Boy”, this was a shock to the system.
Little girls suddenly started dressing like Madonna. It became a fad. “Madonna Wannabes” could be found at any school or mall across America. This infuriated parents. Madonna was called a devil said to encourage young women to act out sexually and wear off the shoulder shirts.(Scandal!) For us girls, it was a perfect act of rebellion – it didn’t hurt anyone, but totally pissed off mom and dad. Adults just didn’t get Madonna and Madonna used that to her full advantage. When she rolled around the stage of the VMA’s in a a white wedding dress, sporting a “Boy Toy” belt buckle and humping the floor – it was a big middle finger to the establishment, American parents, and pop music divas. But you would have thought she killed adorable kittens with her teeth on live television. She was just 26 years old. Looks pretty tame by todays standards:
Miley Cyrus is just doing her version of humping the floor in a wedding dress. She is becoming a woman and shedding her Hannah Montana persona forever. Can you blame her? What if people wanted you to be the same person you were at twenty for the rest of your adult life? I bet you’d tell them to fuck off. And that’s exactly what Miley Cyrus seems to be doing. If you disapprove just change the channel. Or better yet, lighten up.
We could stand to lighten up. It’s 2013 and sex is still taboo. We are still scared of the female body. In 1992 Madonna released her book “Sex”. It is full of highly stylized, naked pictures of Madge in various locations and costumes. People called it “Hard-core Pornography”, and you had to have ID to purchase it. (Obviously Americans in 1992 had no idea what hardcore porn really looked like.) In ’89 Madonna came back with “Like a Prayer”, a video that was so upsetting to some folks that it was denounced by PepsiCo and The American Family Association. Americans seem to find sex and nudity so vile that children need “protecting” from it. It’s absurd that Janet Jackson’s bare nipple brought an entire country to a screeching halt in a split second. A nipple! Something that all humans have at least two of! A nipple caused a scandal. In 2004!
No matter what you think of Miley Cyrus, she isn’t going anywhere. She has proven herself a provocative and fearless performer. Miley Cyrus is brave. She isn’t afraid to look ugly. She isn’t afraid to look awkward. She isn’t afraid of trying new things. She isn’t afraid of not being liked. Like Madonna did before her, Miley is using reaction as fuel to the fire. And I think she deserves a break. She isn’t that outrageous. (If the people of America want to get upset about something, how about that date rape song that Robin Thicke was singing while Miley was gyrating? Huh? Why not ask HIS dad what HE thought about it?)
Miley is totally awkward and self assured at the same time. And that’s why I like her. She’s twenty years old. We all thought we knew it all while secretly being scared to death that we didn’t. In a time of Perfect Pink Princesses, Selena Gomez and One Direction, I find Miley Cyrus refreshing. I like that she is embracing being weird and awkward. I like that she shaved her head. I like that she’s a little crazy. I say go for it. I like a girl with Moxie. It wasn’t that long ago that a young woman named Madonna shocked the country by singing about sex while wearing a white wedding dress. I think folks will be talking about Miley and her twerking for years to come.
Good for you, Miley.