Miley Cyrus, human cyclone

How can I introduce Miley Cyrus? Do I begin with her famous career as a child mega-star? Or perhaps instead with her now infamous incarnation as the “queen of twerk?” And does her post-Disney acting career even deserve mention? Well, let it suffice to say that Miley is a dynamo. And if you happened to tune into MTV on Aug. 25, and were shocked to see little Miley grinding passionately on a middle-aged, married man in a garish suit (also known as Robin Thicke), you know what I’m talking about. Let’s take it back a few steps.

Hannah Montana, tween icon, was the inspiration for countless naive dreams about living “the best of both worlds” as a superstar pop sensation. Hannah’s alter-ego, Miley Stewart, was relatable, quirky and plagued by boy problems and confrontations with your average mean girls. This was a character millions of kids could identify with, but the unfortunate phenomenon of Disney’s hit show, Hannah Montana, was that parents and kids alike began to see Miley Cyrus as the character she played, and nothing more. In other words, people began to expect a certain type of behavior.

Much to the world’s apparent dismay, the real Miley eventually began to break away from certain conventions that she was being held to. “I’m supposed to be drug-free?” real Miley said. “I’ll smoke Salvia!” The world wept. “I’m supposed to perform for my audience of 10-year-olds?” real Miley laughed. “I think I’ll do a pole dance!” The world wept even harder. “I’m supposed to be an innocent-looking teen queen?” real Miley scoffed. “I’ll cut my hair into the craziest style ever!” And at this the whole world seemed to be personally offended.

After cutting and bleaching her hair into a short “punk-rock” crop — truly a landmark event in the history of global entertainment — Miley quieted down for a bit. But this summer the radios have been buzzing with her hit song “We Can’t Stop” and controversy surrounds the former “Disney darling” yet again. The song itself is questionable for more than just its idiotic mantra of “can’t stop won’t stop,” a phrase that annoyed sane people everywhere long before we had to hear it chanted every time we got in a car. I mean, is that some thinly veiled reference to Ecstasy in the chorus? And cocaine in the second verse? Seriously, what the heck is up with that video? Keep your tongue in your mouth Miley.

At the 2013 Video Music Awards, these criticisms and more were only compounded as millions of people watched Miley prance around in a tacky leotard trying way too hard to be “gangster,” before ripping off that skimpy outfit to reveal a flesh-colored bikini. Thus attired, she proceeded to hump everything in sight whilst simultaneously licking a giant foam finger and thrusting it between her legs. Shocking, right? Well, she did say she had something in store for the MTV audience that would be even more mind-blowing than the Britney-Madonna kiss in 2003.

The real question is whether or not Miley Cyrus deserves all the hate she gets. I would argue that she doesn’t. She absolutely, 100 percent does not deserve to be mocked and trashed the way she has been recently. I find Miley to be endlessly fascinating. She has held a nation of celebrity-news junkies captivated for years because everything she does, she does full blast. Miley doesn’t spark half a controversy. She sparks a full-fledged controversy that in turn ignites a wildfire that then goes on to cause a global apocalypse that would floor the Mayans. She can manage that feat simply by getting a new hairdo. Miley knows herself, and that’s more than can be said for most former child stars.

Admittedly, it is difficult for me to defend every aspect of Miley’s VMA performance. Over-the-top, lewd, and awkward are words that could be used to describe it. But on the other hand, why not look at her little song-and-dance routine as a hilarious form of expression? In my opinion, Miley understands her history. She understands the standards people hold her to. But she rejects those standards, insisting loudly that nobody has the right to impose them on her. A pop star is in the public eye, surely, but our modern climate of media saturation has had the harmful effect of giving people a false sense of ownership over celebrities. People need to realize that Miley can’t be tamed. She refuses to be dominated. And a deeper reading of her recent actions leads to the realization that everything Miley Cyrus says or does these days is really an ironic slap-in-the-face to the industry, the media, Disney and anybody who expects anything of her.

That reading may seem a bit romanticized to most. For those not buying it, there is another reason to ease up on the insults. Miley is an adult. She is a grown up, independent woman. And by now it is clear that she wants to be a sexual type of artist. Marvin Gaye had “Sexual Healing,” but he’s a music icon. Bruno Mars’ new single, titled “Gorilla,” is all about making love (in no uncertain terms), but even though he performed it on the same VMA telecast, he isn’t being ripped apart for his not-so-subtle innuendos. And why hasn’t Robin Thicke gotten any of the hate from the Miley performance? After all, wasn’t she singing his supposedly sexist song?

I’m not going to beat around the bush: Miley is a liberated woman. The fact that she is just that, a woman, doesn’t make her sexuality any more inappropriate than anybody else’s. We can sit around arguing about taste and audience and the time and place for certain types of displays, but when it comes down to it, it’s just not fair to beat up Miley Cyrus any more than other artists. Sex is an accepted part of the music industry, and it has been ever since Americans first started singing the blues. If anything, Miley deserves praise for not taking herself too seriously. The girl has fun, and no one can deny that we have fun with her. So next time you turn on the radio and hear “We Can’t Stop” come blasting through the speakers, get up and do a little twerking yourself. After all, we love to party in the USA.