Miley seems to be predictable only in the sense that we can always expect a controversy spilling from her lips. (Or loins.)
As a young starlet in the spotlight, there’s a whole slew of people looking to analyze MC’s every motion for motive. And in many ways – as a fan and just a fellow human in society – I respect her fight to define herself in terms, phrases (and states of undress) that she decides. What I don’t condone is the cursory way words are being tossed around, as though they're simply sounds – sans meaning – being bellowed in the night ... when in reality, there's a rapt audience hanging on her every word.
Her most recent controversial claim stems from W magazine (let's forgo her 21-year old full-bared breasts for a moment.) She announced herself as a member of the “punk rock-shit” world, in close association with legends such as Madonna and Joan Jett. This is not the first time Miley has made claim to being in the league of the top feminists of the world, but the first time she has openly added the “punk rock” label. More power to the person who wants to break the chains society has cast upon them (down with Disney!), but herein lays the problem: Both of those terms have long, complicated, tumultuous histories that in turn, have imbued them with connotations forged decades before this teen queen ever stepped foot on the scene.
Cyrus insists that her provocative image is calculated. In part, she tells me, it’s a response to what she sees as a lack of authenticity in her peer group. “I just don’t get what half the girls are wearing. Everyone to me seems like Vanna White. I’m trying to tell girls, like, ‘Fuck that. You don’t have to wear makeup. You don’t have to have long blonde hair and big titties. That’s not what it’s about. It’s, like, personal style.’ I like that I’m associated with sexuality and the kind of punk-rock shit where we just don’t care. Like Madonna or Blondie or Joan Jett—Jett’s the one that I still get a little shaky around. She did what I did in such a crazier way. I mean, girls then weren’t supposed to wear leather pants and, like, fucking rock out. And she did.” – W magazine, Ronan Farrow
That’s not to say that you have to have been born into the revolution to feel a closeness with the struggle – or even help perpetuate it – but one must openly acknowledge the role they play as a late-comer to that struggle. And the weight of the words in which you're stake claim in identifying with.
While a strong case could be made for making Miss Miley synonymous with the rebellious and uninhibited – the froth is lapping at her feet – being rebellious and uninhibited does not a punk rock feminist make. What does a punk rock feminist look like exactly? You tell me. But I must admit, Miley’s eyebrow-less visage and twerked-out bod are not the first things that spring to mind. I’m all for breaking chains that once defined us and reclaiming what it means to be a women and a rebel, but in a world where we have more choices in how to associate ourselves than ever before, we must remember the that some words bear the weight of generations before us.
Personally, I see Miley as more as an exhibitionist than I will ever see her as a female punk rock icon. There is more than one way to be progressive, as proven time and again by our friends in Hollywood and beyond. A clear sense of how you identify is an integral piece of the complex puzzle that makes you, you. We each possess a cacophony of dimensions within ourselves.
But in the end, MC is simply struggling to find her place in the world like everybody else: feminist, punk rock, daughter, singer, or otherwise.
And we wish her luck.
Image: Flickr via commons.wikimedia.org