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Miley’s shock value

Ann Marie Jakubowski | Thursday, September 26, 2013

Let’s face it – Miley Cyrus was never going to go down in history as one of the world’s great lyricists or masterful actresses. The “boom boom clap, boom-de-clap-de-clap” theme of 2009’s “Hoedown Throwdown” doesn’t scream musical transcendence, and as cute as Hannah Montana was, Humpty Dumpty deserves the monopoly on rhyming first and last names.  
But I refuse to believe that the only option she had to stay relevant in the entertainment world was to hone her twerking skills and see just how many people she could shock.
Does anyone really, honestly respect Miley Cyrus anymore? Maybe I’m just out of touch with the true dynamics of pop culture, but I haven’t talked to anyone who watched her “Wrecking Ball” video and found the sledgehammer licking to be wrenchingly profound. And I personally found her VMA performance shocking in a horrifying kind of way.
I thought she was gorgeous in the post-Disney, pre-buzz cut days, but now I find the whole image grotesque. I’ve seen most of the media spectacles, from her “dance” with Robin Thicke at the VMAs to her borderline breakdown during the iHeartRadio performance in Las Vegas, and most of them just make me uncomfortable.
Does that make me a Victorian Age prude? Fine, but to counter that, why is she making it so difficult for me to like these songs? I’ll admit it – I don’t hate “Wrecking Ball.” And if “We Can’t Stop” came on at a party, I wouldn’t be upset. Neither is near the top of my all-time favorite list, but while I’m not an educated music critic, I think she sounds pretty good. Too bad that’s not nearly enough for me to call myself a fan.
It’s true that no one made me watch the videos in question, and whatever subsequent criticism I have can be fairly met with a blunt admonition to just turn off the TV if it bothers me so much. I don’t know what, specifically, I want to see from Miley. I have no kernel of truth I think she should take to heart, not that she ever would do so if I did happen to have anything. If I knew what it was like to be an internationally famous pop star trying to break out of my Disney Channel image, I would probably not be here working for The Observer. And I’m confident I wouldn’t handle a breakup with Liam Hemsworth all that well either.
If she’s trying to be a spectacle, she has succeeded. Maybe there are people who respect her for not “taking nothing from nobody,” like she herself declares she won’t. Maybe that’s enough for her.
All I have to say is, what on earth happened to Miley and where did all her clothes go? And also, I’d like her a lot better if she were headed in a different direction, pursuing some goal beyond shock value.