Miley Cyrus made it tough to not have an opinion about her truly unforgettable VMA appearance. The instant Twitter responses included disgust or disapproval, confusion and shock.
Even my workday commenced with a number of comments regarding her stuffed-animal-filled, raunchy performance:
"She was terrible."
"She's 20 and slutty."
"Liam Hemsworth should dump her. He's so much better than her."
Whoa. When did this conversation segue from critiquing her performance to determining whether or not her fiancé deserves better?
The world always seems to jump the gun when it comes to talking shit about anything Miley-related. Where is this fire when you hear that women only make up 4.2 percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs? Where is the fire when we learn that women are paid 77 cents to every dollar a man earns? Are we really choosing to focus all our energy on discussing why Miley Cyrus is the antithesis of desirable?
I grew up with Miley Cyrus. I sat third row at her concert four years ago (I was 18, roughly 10 years older than most of the audience, and still am not ashamed about it until this day). I watched Hannah Montana religiously until it ended ... my sophomore year of college. I've been aware of and tracking her transition to "adulthood" for as long as she's been famous. I can't explain why, but I'm still a loyal fan. I've been a little too old for my parents to worry she'll be a bad influence, but regardless I grew up with her.
Embracing one's sexual freedom hasn't always gotten as much negative attention as Miley's has been getting. "Pon de Replay," Rihanna's first single, was released exactly a year before Hannah Montana's first episode and before anyone even knew who Miley was. Rihanna has spent over eight years of her life, three of which she was younger than 20 years old, dancing and performing provocatively. She's associated with sex and seduction. Yet no one complains when Rihanna performs half naked or posts revealing photos to Instagram. They represent incredibly similar images. I find it hard to believe that a four year age difference is the key in unlocking this mystery.
If the true reason behind the onslaught of hate is Miley's transformation from Disney golden girl to twerking attention-seeker, then humanity would be lining up to kiss Taylor Swift's feet. She's been in the spotlight just as long as Miley, but has managed a squeaky clean reputation at 23, with nothing more than a few bad break ups on her record. Yet this mysterious cloud of dislike plagues Swift for no apparent reason, other than claiming "her music isn't country" and "she's annoying." Which makes this band of hatred even more puzzling.
Calling Miley Cyrus "slutty" or "rachet" or "eye-bleedingly terrible" comes off as an anti-feminist rant. Could the girl refrain from grinding on a 36-year-old husband and father? Sure. Could she manage to wear a tad more clothing when performing for millions to see? Absolutely. But I don't think these are the reasons people jump the gun on hating on Miley.
If you've ever listened to a conversation about Miley's more recent transformation, it might do justice to call attention to the gender majority. Women are particularly harsh on her, criticizing her from every angle possible, from her clothes to her hair to her dancing to her parents and her fiancé. Ever listened to a group of dudes talk about Miley? Probably not. Likely because they simply don't care enough. But also because what guy is going to critique the publicly sexual transformation of a young girl into a provocative woman with a killer body and an "I don't give a fuck" attitude? No guy.
In no world would I say Miley's voice is anything better than mediocre or that her VMA performance was stellar. She definitely displayed some inappropriate behavior and in the past few months has engaged in questionable activity. But she's an entertainer with a couple catchy songs, and everyone talking about her "eye-bleeding" behavior is only giving her exactly what she's looking for: attention. It seems like the only thing Miley Cyrus is guilty of is being too earnest.
And what other solution is there? The only way to avoid criticism in Hollywood is by achieving a nearly impossible middle ground. But what fun is the middle ground when no one is talking about it? Instead, Miley picked one end of the spectrum, the end that gets to be scandalous and shocking, gets tweeted about and isn't wrapped up in Disney contracts until they own everything from her pigtail buns to her first born child, and just went for it.
All I ask is that the world gives her a little less flak for her this rebellious and ostentatious stage. And if you simply can't do that, maybe you can try to care a little bit less.