Miley Cyrus' Bangerz Tour proves she's pop music's greatest role model (seriously)
The world's most maligned former Disney princess is strutting down the stage, leading a platoon of dancers dressed in (more) preposterous costumes, the most preposterous of them a pair of seven-foot foam finger outfits where the dancers' heads stick out of the knuckles.
Eric Gruneisen. Full slideshow: Miley Cyrus at the Pepsi Center
It's a direct reference to the moment Miley Cyrus finally figured out how to make an entire society clutch its collective pearls: The one with the Beetlejuice suit and the twerking and the aforementioned foam finger applied to her vagina. You remember.
And this isn't even the first time tonight in Denver that Miley's blown to cartoonish proportion the very things she's most frequently mocked for. Earlier there was the entrance, where she slid down her own giant, inflatable, cockeyed tongue.
See also: Photos -- Miley Cyrus at Pepsi Center
So she's strutting, and singing "We Can't Stop," one of her many Top 10 Singles. Yeah, it's about partying and how we're not gonna stop partying, basically, but it is a genuinely taxing thing to perform. As the story goes, this one was originally meant for Rihanna, but you need more than her five-note range for that hook. You need Miley's several octaves of diva-quality power, which she can employ so effortlessly she's still got the capacity to simultaneously do things like, say, strut.
The rapid evolution of Miley Cyrus has been met with a smirk. Our nation's news feeds are overrun with jokes about her. Mostly, it seems, they are about her physical appearance. She looks like Justin Bieber or Draco Malfoy or some startled stray animal or whatever thing someone slapped next to some unflattering photo of her. There are plenty of those to be found; Miley does not shy away from unflattering portrayals of herself.
But why should she? Why should a very powerful woman (or anyone) feel the need to meet any particular expectation about how female singers should look or act? We have cherished androgynous rock stars since right about the time rock music began. Miley Cyrus has embraced traditional masculinity by doing things like cutting her hair short and doing lots of air humping and, yes, strutting. That does not make her ridiculous.
What, then? Surely it's not her commercial success, which is nearly unparalleled at the moment. And surely it's not her actual singing ability, which, again, is prodigious.
See more photos of Miley. Photo by Eric Gruneisen
Let's give the naysayers a fair shake: The lyrical and aesthetic content of all this stuff is undoubtedly frivolous and short sighted. The music itself clearly contains no original ideas. There's more. There are the multitudes of kids who will walk from the Pepsi Center through the thick snow to their parents' minivans with barely anything covering their torsos and limbs. And there's the hardest thing to dismiss: the accusation of cultural appropriation, the demeaning of everyone from African-Americans to Amazonians. Some people think Miley is mocking those groups and their cultures.