Reflections on Miley Cyrus's 'We Can't Stop'

When you are old and gray and full of sleep, you will turn on the MTV Video Music Awards and wonder, where is Britney Spears? And who is Miley Cyrus? Is she not a girl, not yet a woman? Billy Ray's daughter? The offspring of a mullet and a Victoria's Secret catalogue? A paean to youth? Is she just a mere mortal, or a triumphant personification of the human spirit? If it's our party, can we really do what we want to?

Are we all Miley Cyrus? When we were young and green, did we too think of cool ideas, like Teddy-bear teddies (is this a paradox of postmodern symbolism?) What would Teddy Roosevelt, the teddy bear's namesake, think? Was the White House his house, and did he do what he want to?

Is there more to Miley than meets the very, very naked eye? Is she just being Miley, or are those dancing, giant bears representative of our Lost Generation, the underemployment mascots of our nation's youth? Is she a cry for help or a voice of outrage? Is she a Playboy bunny, or is she Occupy Wall Street? Is her entire life a carefully-cultivated feminist critique of celebrity?

Don't you see it's we who own the night? In our capitalist oligarchy, can't everything be owned? Has not the night always been owned by the young, the partiers, the revelers, the ones who cannot sleep for fear of waking old?

Is Miley Cyrus America too? Can she sing of our glories, our youthful indiscretions, our aging infrastructure, our social ills? Is her metaphorical strip club our whole puritanical, self-interested enterprise run amok in white-flesh-colored lingerie? Does she dare to eat a peach? Is Miley appropriating black culture, or is she black culture's inverted truth? When she slapped that home girl with the big butt, was she treating her as an object, or was she instructing quietly, shake off your oppressors. Dance, dance until we die.

If only God can judge us, are not our courts impotent, our Supreme Court corrupt? Is Miley commenting on the frailty of the judiciary, the inability of us to judge ourselves justly? Let he who is without sin cast the first over-sized plush animal. Is Robin Thicke, in his prison jumpsuit from Oh Brother Where Art Thou?, a life-sized embodiment of our school-to-prison pipeline? By grinding on him, is she exposing the lie of our American dream? Is she warning of our American nightmare?

Is Miley America's young, waiting to be devoured? Is she our new Princess of Pop, or is she a princess waiting to be popped? Or is Miley all of us, all of us in our toiling, immature machinations of narcissism? Are we so blind to ourselves that we cannot see ourselves in her? Is it that we can't stop, or that we won't stop?

Should we hide our faces from this spectacle, or should we embrace it? She, too, sings America. Can't you see it's we who 'bout that life?