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On the casual condemnation of Miley

Adam Donnelly

The media is trying really hard to convince us that Miley Cyrus isn’t sexy. If you type “Miley Cyrus is” into Google, the words they suggest are “ugly”, “gross” and “disgusting” (the fourth one is “crazy”). This is all strange because she’s actually a really attractive young woman. It doesn’t matter how stupid you make her out to be or how many pictures you take of her with her tongue out, she’s still gorgeous. Why is that so hard to hear?

Miley is a problematic figure. She is a self-assured, successful and sexy 20-year-old woman with no shame and a legion of Twitter followers. In other words, she’s the most dangerous thing in the world to our sense of morality. If she does drugs, wears skimpy clothes and openly flaunts her sexuality while still being ultra successful and happy, what’s stopping your kids from doing the same? You can’t just tell them it’s wrong. Wrong according to whom? No one takes God seriously anymore and they’re too old to believe in Santa. Miley is doing everything we tell our kids not to do and so far she hasn’t suffered any consequences for it. Because of that it’s dangerous for us to be attracted to her, to like her. It legitimizes her. But if we as a society can come to a consensus and find her “ugly,” “gross” or “disgusting” then all of a sudden no one will want to be her. Then we could tell our kids “see, if you act like that, no one will love you.” So we had to find a way to make her unattractive.

The movie A Clockwork Orange is about a serial rapist who is reconditioned to find violence nauseating. He’s strapped in a chair with his eyes pulled open watching clips of graphic violence as they pump him full of drugs that make him sick. It’s called aversion therapy, and it gets him to associate violence with intense nausea so he hopefully no longer finds it appealing.

That’s what’s happening to America right now, but replace violence with Miley. America is going through Miley aversion therapy. At some point, we found her appealing. Maybe when she first started doing grown up songs but still had a bit of innocence to her. Or maybe when she made that first video of her twerking in a onesie. But then it became apparent how dangerous that desire was. We were frightened by our own impulses. So we started (trying) to hate her. That explains how she became hated and then ubiquitous. Doesn’t it seem weird that she’s everywhere yet no one likes her? We are bombarded with references to her – her songs are on the radio, she’s on TV, she’s all over the internet and people can’t stop bringing her up – but no one ever says anything nice about her.  She always comes up as the butt of a joke or alongside something else we don’t like. She just hosted SNL, and they dressed her up as Michelle Bachmann. Who does America hate more than Michelle Bachmann!? She got to perform at the VMAs, not because she won something, but so she could share a stage with Robin Thicke and sing the rapiest song of the decade. Why is Miley constantly associated with things we already hate? She was just in the news again because acclaimed folk singer Sufjan Stevens called her out for making grammatical mistakes. We love feeling smarter than the people we see on TV, which is why we delighted in the fact that a 20 year old worth $150 million didn’t know the difference between lying and laying. (For the record, you can lie next to me anytime Miley. Or is it lay? Gosh, I wish Sufjan would write me a letter.)

Associating Miley with all of these negative symbols is just a way to make her unattractive. They’re the drugs that make us feel nauseous while we’re forced to watch her twerk. This isn’t a conspiracy, we’re doing it to ourselves. Think about those popular Google searches: Miley Cryus is gross, Miley Cyrus is ugly, etc. Those are just statements of opinion, why would you Google them? What are you looking for? The answer is that people really, really want those statements to be true, and they’re looking for some kind of confirmation. The media is just giving us what we want. We’re being told that we hate Miley Cyrus because that’s what we desperately want to hear.

So let’s agree to not get caught up in the anti-Miley crusade. I’m not saying you should listen to her music (I’m not a sadist), just that we should be more careful in our discourse surrounding public figures. She’s just another artist struggling to express herself and push the boundaries of her art. All she wanted was to break our walls, and we broke her.

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