No, I don’t twerk. No, I don’t have a particular affinity for sticking out my tongue. No, I don’t ride wrecking balls. But I get what she’s doing.
She’s trying to grow up. She’s trying to define herself as an adult. Yes, she is going about it in a crazy way, but she is trying to assert her independence.
The first thing I thought when I saw her VMA performance was, I get it, you’re trying to shove in everyone’s face that you are an adult, that you are not Hannah Montana anymore. Then I immediately thought about how embarrassed she is going to be in 30 years. Maybe she will never be embarrassed by her actions, but she will definitely be embarrassed that she entered pop-lore wearing such a hideous and non-flattering outfit. Kind of like how I feel when I think about my double mismatching socks in my 4th grade school picture.
I agree with a lot of what I have read about Miley. She is furthering the objectification of women, demeaning herself, setting a bad example for all the little girls that follow her every move, etc. I don’t want to lessen the truth of what has been spoken. But I feel like she has become a whipping boy (or girl). Yes, she should not have done what she did, but I was not really more shocked by her performance than what I have seen on other people’s music videos or even what I have seen people wear at the mall.
The kid is only 20 years old and has grown up in showbiz her whole life. Of course what she thinks is appropriate or a good idea is going to be skewed by what the industry has raised her to believe. How many of us made not-so-great decisions at 20 years old? How many of us did something really embarrassing because we were trying to prove to the world that we were adults?
I remember when I moved to Austin, my parents and I went to a furniture store to buy a bed. I felt like an adult. I was moving to a new town, a college graduate, away from my parents, starting a new job on Monday. I had worked out my adult budget calculating rent, electricity, and groceries. I had arrived. My parents were buying me the bed as an early birthday gift. I picked a modest twin bed with a simple frame. Then the saleswoman swooped in. I’m sure in her career she’d seen tons of customers like us. I, in my best adult voice, told her what I had picked. She didn’t even look at me as she started trying to upsell my parents. “Oh, she’s your only daughter; don’t you want her to have the best? This will not last the year. Let me show you something else.”
“No, ma’am, we’re good”, I said, “We’ll take this one.” She completely ignored me as she brushed past me to show my parents something else.
This was my moment. I was an adult starting my adult life, and this woman wouldn’t even talk to me about the purchase of my first adult bed. That jack***. My parents, not wanting to waste money on something that wasn’t going to last, went along with her to look at other beds. I followed like a dog with its tail tucked between its legs.
The saleslady finally left us to talk over the options, and that’s when I lost it. In the middle of the store I released my anger and embarrassment. I was crying and screaming at my parents at the same time. It was my Miley moment. I just wanted to be taken seriously. I wanted to be seen as an adult. I didn’t want someone to see some little kid that always does what her daddy tells her to do. I wanted to be heard. I was an adult and should be seen as one.
We left without buying anything, obviously. And in the car I immediately regretted the show I had just put on and still cringe to this day when I think about it.
I did that. And that was me. A really responsible kid, a stable home life, has a conscience that has been well-formed, has always loved school, has done hundreds of community service hours, even made it through college without making too many poor choices. And I still acted like this. I still had some public outburst begging for everyone to take me seriously as an adult.
Now, take Miley who has grown up in showbiz. A place where wives don’t think it’s strange when their husbands are really sexual with young women, or where you are applauded and affirmed the more salacious and inappropriate you are. Miley is just having her moment. She wants to be anti-everything she ever was before. In her “Saturday Night Live” performance this past weekend, she responded to the query, “Where has Hannah Montana gone?” “Murdered,” she answered. She wants to be anti-cute, anti-goodie goodie, anti-daddy’s girl, anti-country, anti-sober, anti-pretty, anti-everything. Even anti-sexy. Have you seen her outfit choices or hair? It’s not pretty. It may be sexual, but it’s not sexy. It’s edgy and raw and a mess. It’s anti-innocence. She’s just pushing any limit she can.
So yeah, there are differences between Miley and I, but we both just want to be seen as adults. I’m not excusing her actions in any way, but I understand them. And man, am I my glad my “I’m-an-adult-dammit” moment isn’t recorded on film.