In an industry known for artists who love to shock and awe audiences, Miley Cyrus has emerged as pop music’s latest priestess of provocation. Though her controversial VMA awards’ performance attracted considerable criticism for her torrid twerking, Cyrus is now the hottest and most raucous act in the business. Her new crotch-rubbing, tongue-flicking stage persona is her way of making a boldly sexual “feminist” statement, and only Miley knows how far she is willing to push the envelope.
“I’m just starting to show what I can do as an artist,” Miley says. “I want my fans to be themselves, to be bold and self-confident, but also to respect other people and their choices in life. I want to be the best entertainer I can be and I want people to love my music.”
With the release of Wrecking Ball, her first No. 1 single, Cyrus is entering the upper echelons of the music world. Sales of her new album, Bangerz, topped the Billboard 200 charts in October, and she went on to rock the MTV European Music Awards in Amsterdam on November 10, where she smoked a joint on stage – the so-called “puff heard round the world”.
It all suggests that Cyrus is willing to break down as many taboos as she can as part of her performance ‘art’. The strategy is clearly paying off for the former Disney star, who is suddenly appearing on the covers of magazines ranging from Cosmo to Rolling Stone. Even the criticism of her lewd VMA ghetto sex dance duet with fellow singer Robin Thicke has now largely faded away in favour of massive public anticipation of Miley’s next display of open rebellion.
Critics and other industry observers have suggested that Cyrus, who turns 21 on November 23, may be headed for a fall, but it appears that the bikini-clad diva is merely having “fun,” as she herself describes it, and wonders what all the fuss is about:
“Some people over-think stuff so much - that’s not why I do it. I (smoked the joint) mostly because I knew the fans in Amsterdam would love it. I knew the whole place would go super wild.” Cyrus, who has 14 million twitter followers, later tweeted: “Sometimes in life you just gotta decide to not give AF.”
Q: Miley, are you deliberately trying to provoke controversy?
CYRUS: At the end of the day, I’m just trying to be true to myself. I’m having fun, I’ve never been happier, and I’m following my instincts. I don’t think I’m doing anything that outrageous but people are free to say what they think. I try not to judge people and nobody would have been talking about the VMAs if I hadn’t given that performance. It was all about not taking ourselves so seriously.
Q: Do you think the initial response, much of which was critical, was an overreaction to your performance?
CYRUS: It was way overblown. I feel proud of my performance and the fact that all the talk about the VMAs was about that makes me think I was right to take things a little further than what people were expecting. Music needs to be shaken up now and a lot of the stuff I did on stage was actually edited out by MTV.
Q: You seem to be a magnet for so much discussion these days. Why do you think you have that effect on the public?
CYRUS: People don’t like anything that they can’t wrap their brain around or they’re fascinated by it and that’s why they obsess over it. And I think that’s the big part about me. I think people are fascinated by the fact that I’m 20 ... ’cause I’m like a voice of a whole generation.
Not because I think I’m like any kind of role model. ‘Cause I’m the one that’s like, “I don’t want that title.” Role models should be real heroes that have done real things.
Q: Are you at all worried that some people might think your wild new persona is simply a form of self-marketing?
CYRUS: No. If people don’t understand what I’m doing, then they will never get me. My performances are a natural evolution for me. It’s just something that happens. I’m not trying to consciously be shocking or different or create some sort of fake image. This is me. I know who I am and it’s only when you don’t know who you are that you have to go out and try to show how different you can be.
Q: Do you feel a need to compete for attention with other artists by trying to be as provocative or more provocative that the competition?
CYRUS: I don’t really feel like I have to compete with other pop artists. I never think, “Oh, this performance is going to make her look bad or out-shadow her.” But, of course, if there is no competition, there would be no reason for any of us to show up to work. At an office, everyone is trying to be boss. Pop music is the same. What I wear adds a factor that other girls can’t compete with.
Q: Did you have an idea that your sexually charged videos and stage performances would generate so much attention?
CYRUS: I didn’t really know how people would react although I wanted to shake things up. It’s turned out to be more chaotic than I imagined and I love it. This is the kind of energy you want to create because it’s like you’re going against the grain and because so many people are attacking you it’s even better. It means that you’re pushing the limits of what society thinks you should be allowed to do.
Q: Is fame important to you?
CYRUS: I don’t want to be famous. I’m very anti-social – I live like a hermit. I don’t really go out into the world much – except to go to the studio. I like talking about music and telling everyone about my record – I want people to love my music, so it’s cool. But, otherwise, I’m not really out of my house that much just because I don’t like fake people. I don’t like paparazzi.
Somebody asked me whether I like being famous. And I don’t like that word ‘cause I don’t want fame. I want to be a name that everyone knows and respects. And I think being famous, you lose a little bit of that respect.
Q: But success is important to you?
CYRUS: If it means that I’m reaching people and connecting to the world then I’m happy. I think that God wants me to work on music and be as successful and happy as I can be doing what I’m doing now.
Q: Are you a big believe in the power of twitter to help you reach you to your fans?
CYRUS: Twitter is not going to go away ever. I control Twitter personally. Facebook is a lot. If I would get involved on Facebook I would stalk people all day. It’s addictive. I prefer Twitter so can stay in contact with fans and my close friends.
Q: Given a lot of the heat you have taken for your provocative performances, do you feel that society is too prudish when it comes to sex and nudity?
CYRUS: I think there’s a big misconception when it comes to young people and sex. Kids can see almost everything on TV or on the internet now so it doesn’t make sense for parents not to talk to their kids about sex or to pretend that kids and teenagers aren’t thinking about it.
Sex should be seen as something very beautiful and expressive. It shouldn’t be covered up and people shouldn’t be made to feel ashamed about it because that’s what creates problems and f*cks people up. Sex should be seen as something magical and how people connect with each other in a beautiful way.
Q: What do you think people don’t understand about you?
CYRUS: I work really hard and I take my music seriously. I’m not just trying to put on a show and have fun, although there’s nothing wrong with that – but I also I want it to mean something to people.
When I did (the Wrecking Ball) video with Terry Richardson, the deepest thing about that was how emotional I was and that I was feeling so vulnerable. Terry is all about capturing strength and beauty in women. That video was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Being naked while doing it might get you to look at it, but then you have to get past the nudity and see the sadness in me. It’s about feeling broken inside and that’s something so many young people I think can relate to.
Q: How do you find being single these days?
CYRUS: I’m not even thinking about it. Right now my focus is on my music and enjoying this time in my life. I’m happier than I’ve ever been and I feel like I’m moving forward and doing interesting things in my life. /Viva Press