Just in case you live under a pop-culture rock, Miley Cyrus, the former Disney star from the mega-youth-phenom “Hannah Montana,” has been preparing over last several months for her upcoming album, “Bangerz,” in a way that’s made headlines. 1st came the single, “We Can’t Stop,” where she tries to encourage love and acceptance, but the promotion of drug usage and female self-exploitation kind of washed that out. Then came the strange associated music video many deemed sexually suggestive. The latest is a gratuitous MTV Video Music Awards performance with R&B crooner Robin Thicke that came with twerking (AKA butt-gyrating) dancers, a simulation of analingus and penis jerking, crotch rubbing and pushing her tail into Thicke’s groin. In her new video for the song “Wrecking Ball,” she’s licking a sledgehammer and swinging around naked. Most of this is causing a massive reaction because Cyrus was Mickey Mouse-affiliated and still has a large youth fan-base, but that’s also the very reason Cyrus is suspected to have initiated these shenanigans. If that’s true, I don’t get it.
I don’t understand Miley’s shock value tour. She may have thought it necessary because she’s known as a major child-star, but unlike most, Cyrus had a few things going for her that would make shocking to shed an image unnecessary. 1) As opposed to a Shirley Temple-type, Cyrus’ fame wasn’t reliant on being little and cute. 2) Although plenty of her fans were much younger than her, there were just as many around her age that would grow with her and view her as adult because they are as well. 3) She kind of laid low after “Hannah Montana” wrapped. She put out 1 album and got engaged. Given that she’s a decent songwriter, plays guitar and somewhat crossed over into country, all she had to do was take a break, then step back into the spotlight at age 20 with an artistically salient, likable album and Voila. Transformation done.
It might not be a fair comparison, but Cyrus’ Disney contemporaries seem to be transitioning into adulthood fairly seamlessly. Demi Lovato (“Camp Rock”) said “Ain’t nobody got time for that” to wilding out after going public with her battle with bi-polar disorder, self-harm and bulimia. Since then, supporting related causes (in addition to anti-bullying) have become Lovato’s platform and she’s gaining more street cred musically, crafting and scouting talent on the U.S. edition of “X Factor” on Fox. Selena Gomez (“Wizards of Waverly Place”) has concentrated on developing a music career since her sitcom closed and doesn’t much garner negative press. Hopefully, I’m not speaking too soon.