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From Disney to Adult Sensation: Miley Cyrus

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 Miley Cyrus is without a doubt one of the most controversial musicians in the media today. The well-known Disney star has made a new name for herself with her controversial performances, music videos, and photoshoots. Miley Cyrus made her debut breakout when she was just 11 years old by scoring the leading role of a very popular Disney Sitcom called Hannah Montana. Since her starring role as Hannah Montana, Miley has moved on to bigger and better things, like focusing on her career as a musician. She delivered family-friendly, innocent music for many years before debuting her fourth album called Bangerz in 2013, which uplifted her music career in a completely different direction. This album took her outside of the generic category of pop music she was residing in and placed her in her own lane of uniqueness. The media was mesmerized to see her step outside of the box and prevail such a contrasting, shocking image of herself. As stated by Miley herself, “I want to be memorable, that’s what my fans want too. Everyone’s talking about me, waiting to see what I’m doing next… I want to keep people guessing.” Her goal was evidently accomplished, as everyone was hooked on her every move. Cleary Miley’s physical appearance was not the only transformation she had made, she had become more invested in making a name for herself outside of Hannah Montana. She had worked hard to make a clean reputation for herself for most of her career in the media, just to turn it all around in another direction once she was old enough to realize who she truly was and what she wanted her brand to entail. Her first step into her own lane was the edgy haircut she revealed in late August of 2012. Following her hairstyle change, she released her hit singles We Can’t Stop and Wrecking Ball truly sets her apart from any other female artist in pop music in the media today. Although these songs sound extremely different, they both carry a certain presence of Miley’s personal and professional growth. Miley’s newer lyrics hold more of a risky attitude, and really prove how much she truly has grown up since her Hannah Montana days.

She’s gone from singing about true friends and first love to singing about parties and sex. In her 2013 hit single We Can’t Stop, Miley goes on to describe the scene of a party:

To my homegirls here with the big butts

Shaking it like we at a strip club

Remember only God can judge us

Forget the haters cause somebody loves ya.

This is followed by the true message of the song; being that we should be ourselves, live freely, and not put too much thought into what people think of us. Using upbeat songs and sexualized lyrics helps to get her message out there because the crowd of people she is aiming her music towards, the younger generations, tend to listen to music with such style. Miley Cyrus stands out as being one of the only female musicians to enforce such a message of self-love and identity, yet the media continuously pins her as the “bad guy” of the music industry. The media lets Miley’s carefree behavior outshine the positive message it holds.

Miley’s change in behavior and musical style didn’t go over well in the eyes of the media and the public. She was harshly criticized for her new persona and received a lot of backlash for her newfound fearlessness. Miley began to deviate more and more from her commonly known nature that we all loved. Who was once a family-friendly star has reshaped herself into a sexualized adult. Many female celebrities in the media are harshly criticized for how they dress or act, but Miley Cyrus takes the cake for being one of the most condemned celebrities thus far.

Miley Cyrus has been a household name since 2006 when she first stepped out into the scene of Hollywood with her father right next to her side every step of the way. As we look at her today, we can’t help but compare her to the young girl she once was, who starred in everyone’s favorite Disney sitcom. The media seems to forget that it’s natural for people to change, especially in Miley’s situation, with millions of people watching and criticizing her every move. She was once considered the perfect role model for young girls and boys, and now a lot of parents couldn’t be more horrified with her crazy behavior. The media seems to only see the drastic change that she’s undergone as she’s grown up, remembering her mainly for her infamous 2013 VMA performance alongside Robin Thicke. This over-sexualized performance caused a huge uproar across social media and many people were disappointed to see Miley present herself in this way. Many articles were published accusing Miley of using this performance to bait the media for attention. A CNN article about the VMA scandal was publishing stating: “…Miley may only be 20 years old, but she has mastered the game of manipulating the media to follow her every move. She did it in August at the MTV Music Awards when she dry-humped singer, Robin Thicke”. During the said performance, as described, Miley goes on to dance very sexually on Robin Thicke and even becomes very sexual with a foam finger. The performance starts out with her in a modest outfit until she strips into a nude-colored bodysuit, and the rest is downhill from there. Many celebrities were on board with how she chose to deliver her artistic expression, Kanye west had even stated, “There are not a lot of artists I believe in more than you right now”. Kanye was not the only artist who saw Miley’s outrageousness as professional talent. The goal of her questionable performance was to prove to the public and the media that she quite frankly doesn’t care about what people have to say about her and she was going to shed her skin of a squeaky-clean image and be her scandalous self. The point being: comparing someone’s adult self to they once were as a child, really doesn’t make sense. Miley speaks on the subject to Harper’s Bazaar Magazine in their July issue of 2017, ‘I really feel really kind of far away from that person… I just want people to see that this is who I am right now.’

Throughout the many years that Miley has been in the spotlight, her identity has grown alongside her. As she grew up, she has taken more control over her brand, and in doing so has changed how she is perceived by the public. Miley announced the lack of control she maintained over her brand identity in her earlier career during the hour-long documentary she had released in 2013 called Miley: The Movement. Following her album release and revealed she had little to no say in what products her face and name were placed upon. In her documentary, she stated, “My whole life it was never about having control. Shit would just come out with my face on it, and that was it…” This statement clearly proves that her brand identity wasn’t true to who she was. Once Miley took control of her career, she began investing her brand into movements that she truly believed in. She produced her 2013 album Bangerz with the simple message of self-empowerment and fearlessness. Since releasing that album, her brand identity has been risky and hippie-like, promoting smoking weed, nudity, and swearing. Across all of Miley’s social media platforms, she maintains an estimated 133 million followers. Any explicit content she is posting on Instagram and Twitter is easily accessible for any fans of hers wishing to view her profiles. Miley encourages these habits of smoking, swearing, and dressing provocatively, not only with her social media profiles but on stage at her concerts as well. Many young and impressionable fans are absorbing her message of self-empowerment as they view her basically everywhere they look. On Miley’s social media platforms, she posts tweets containing explicit language and Instagram posts of herself with little to no clothing on. Seeing as these posts are so very accessible to all her fans including her younger fans, they have caused quite the uproar with parents. In a survey held of 2,287 parents in England based upon who parents considered was the worst role model for their children under ten years old, Miley Cyrus was voted as the worst role model, holding 78% of the votes. One of the parents was quoted to say, “She started out as the perfect teen idol in Hannah Montana, and then when she reached a certain age, she decided to rid herself of the clean-teen image…Parents tend to have high hopes for their children and it’s typically not a parent’s dream for them to prance around with not a lot of clothes on, partying their lives away.” Yet another example of how troublesome her actions can come across when people don’t perceive them correctly.

Her transformation has been extremely controversial and dramatic. Miley was quoted by E.T in 2015 as saying, “I think people try to make me seem a lot less centered than I am … I’m who I am, and you see what I’m doing … You make choices, and sometimes they’re right, sometimes they’re wrong in life. Mine are magnified.” As Miley continues to experiment with new clothing and hairstyles, people will narrow in on her personal choices and continue to judge her, and attempt to knock her and her brand down. The New York Times had this to say on the subject:

Thanks to her loose tongue performance at the MTV Video Music Awards this Summer… and her decreasingly clothed music videos, Ms. Cyrus has become an easy target, a receptacle for our national racial and sexual anxieties. In throwing off the chains of Disney, Ms. Cyrus is flashing cocksureness that has become a threat to established ideas of how young female performers should present themselves… It’s numbingly easy to pick on someone like Ms. Cyrus for her creative choices…A tremendous amount of her appeal is visual. She is, quite suddenly, a 360-degree pop star. From her chopped, bleached hair to her white nail polish to her VFiles fashion choices to her Terry Richardson-directed music videos, she’s leaped to the front of the pop class in terms of presentation. 

The entirety of Miley’s career path is based upon her brand identity. Thankfully, Miley’s brand is now focused on entities that are true to who she is as a person. Outside of her new style, she founded the Happy Hippie Foundation; which is a nonprofit organization that helps young people fight against injustices such as homelessness, fight for LGBTQ+ rights, and helps any other youth members in vulnerable situations. At this point in Miley’s career, she was always be pinned as the “infamous twerker” from her Bangerz era, regardless of all the positivity she has to offer. Miley has done countless memorable things including donating half a million dollars to AIDS research for the gala in L.A. back in November of 2014, widely supporting LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights, fighting for the #freethenipple campaign, creating a charity for the homeless youth of the U.S.A and the list goes on. Miley even goes above and beyond to post pictures of her natural face showing pimples and imperfections, to prove that even the most famous pop star in the world is still not perfect. Miley stands out as one of the most liberating musicians in today’s world of media. Although there is nothing wrong with how Miley presents herself nowadays, it’s the drastic transformation she’s undergone that many people can’t get past. On the other hand, her transformation has been quite inspiring to those that are able to appreciate her on both a musical and human level. Many of her fans couldn’t relate to her more, seeing as she shows such a personal side of herself. She’s shown her good times and she’s shown her bad times. She justifies and promotes many things like swearing and smoking that bring her onto more of a human level with the rest of the world. She lets her fans see the real side of herself and that’s why so many more people can relate to her compared to someone like Kim Kardashian who always looks perfect and professional.

Although throughout Miley’s career she has made very drastic changes to her appearance, music, and message, she has always been true to herself and has set an example of sincerity and truthfulness. She portrays a very real image of herself despite how the media displays her. The media will continue to bash Miley no matter what she does because they’re always going to be looking for the next headline for their magazines and news articles. Miley has come full circle from her modest character of her early career to her crazy persona of her bangerz era and now resides once again as a more low-key player in the game of music. The media has tried to pin Miley as a “bad guy” for many years calling her a bad role model and an attention-seeker, but anyone who gives Miley’s message the time of day can see past that and appreciate her embracing the idea of self-love, empowering her identity and encouraging her fans to do the same.  

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From Disney to Adult Sensation: Miley Cyrus. (2022, May 24). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 27, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/from-disney-to-adult-sensation-miley-cyrus/
“From Disney to Adult Sensation: Miley Cyrus.” GradesFixer, 24 May 2022, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/from-disney-to-adult-sensation-miley-cyrus/
From Disney to Adult Sensation: Miley Cyrus. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/from-disney-to-adult-sensation-miley-cyrus/> [Accessed 27 Jun. 2022].
From Disney to Adult Sensation: Miley Cyrus [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 May 24 [cited 2022 Jun 27]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/from-disney-to-adult-sensation-miley-cyrus/
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