I never discuss Miley Cyrus. In fact, this is the first time I’ve really ever had time to collect all my thoughts on her. I try to avoid the conversation when it comes up, mostly because I can’t stand the discussion that follows– The name calling, the body shaming; we begin to put ourselves on a pedestal of morality.
The name calling really needs to stop — Miley Cyrus is not a slut. I am a bit of a feminist, and I don’t believe that a woman has to limit what she can wear so that a man can behave. A man is not a wild animal who cannot control himself, and he should be held accountable for his actions. To say that by wearing short shorts and a bra is deserving rape or name-calling is retrogressive. It might be tacky, or of poor taste– but I could say the same about a horizontally striped shirt on a fat woman. To my knowledge Cyrus isn’t known for her sexual escapades either– seeing as how she recently ended a long-term committed relationship.
Miley’s drug use doesn’t really bother me either. There’s all this talk of her being a so-called “role model” because she was a child star, yet this discussion has never come up with Drake except to say “haha, he was that kid in a wheelchair on Degrassi.” She’s just as popular with teens as Chris Brown, but we excuse his behavior and give him a Grammy. There are far worse things said in rap music, than in a Miley Cyrus interview. If you truly believe your child started smoking weed because she saw Hannah Montana do it once, you’re delusional. And if you believe that the reason your child ended up pregnant, strolling some shady, East Oakland street trying to sell their body for a hit of crack was because they once heard how Miley Cyrus smoked weed then you’re in denial of how much of an eye you kept on your child. Children are influenced by pop culture as a whole– not by one individual.
Now what DOES bother me, is they way Miley Cyrus credits her change to some of the most impoverished and segregated cities in the US including, Detroit (even dropping the name 8 Mile). To me, this is a negative example of cultural appropriation. The best way to define cultural appropriation is by example; you know, the way white people go crazy over El Dia de Los Muertos, and us Mexicans are kinda like whatever about it (I always joke how El Dia is every hipster white girl’s favorite holiday). I do like the fact that other races and ethnicities are interested in our traditions and take time to understand where they come from. I’d also have no problem listening to how Cyrus empathizes or sympathizes with one of the most racially segregated cities in the world. But if you grew up white, rich, with everything handed to you, you cannot say you feel as though who you really are came from the short amount of time you spent in Detroit. 8 Mile’s entire culture comes from being black, poor and divided which is something she will never understand. Just as we, the common people, cannot say we understand the constant struggles of childhood stardom — the pressure to be thin and beautiful, to behave yourself, and to have what would have been your childhood stripped from you.
For a similar take (pre- Rolling Stone article) check out Jezebel’s article.
For some interesting maps depicting segregation and divides, check out this link.