This week I went to Miley Cyrus at the O2 and do you know what? It was hands down one of the best things I’ve seen in a very long time. Full disclosure, I’m a big Miley fan so had her performance been less than fantastic I would still have had a ball. But it was… oh it was. Miley emerged, sliding down a vast model of her own tongue – a witty response to the global reaction to her favourite facial expression – and proceeded to treat us to an immaculately executed display of vocal and physical gymnastics, endless extravagant costume changes, ingenious graphics and inevitable shock tactics. Yes she swore, a lot. And yes, there was crotch grabbing, gyrating, costumes so skimpy they no doubt had half the audience wondering who the hell does the girl’s waxing and of course, a whole lotta twerking. But, in my opinion, none of that detracted from the fact that ultimately, Miley Cyrus is an incredibly skilled and dedicated performer. The discipline, talent and drive that goes into perfecting a show like that, not to mention the imagination and attention to detail involved in perfecting everything else that goes along with it (I have it on good authority Miley is involved in E-V-E-R-Y aspect) is seriously bloody impressive. In short, it blew my mind and I had bloody brilliant evening.
When I saw the Daily Mail’s unsurprisingly damning piece on the concert I was disappointed and actually a bit angry, albeit entirely unsurprised. They slated her “lewdness” (seriously, people still say “lewd”!?), her skimpy outfits, her references to sex and drugs which I admit, were about as veiled as your average Instagram humble brag. While they weren’t lying on most of those fronts and I didn’t exactly expect much else from the Mail, there were still a few things about the articles I read that particularly peeved me. Firstly, the fact that none of their pieces – and there are a few, although they all say much the same thing – even mention how good her performance was. Slate Miley Cyrus all you like, and I agree she’s a love or hate kinda popstar. But totally ignoring the fact that this 21 year old girl got up on stage in front of thousands and kept them spellbound for hours with a level of spectacle you’d expect from the likes of Beyonce, fresh from hospital no less, is some pretty unbalanced journalism to say the least.
Secondly, the idea that the endless array of shocked parents who had brought their nine year olds along had somehow been hoodwinked into letting Miley Cyrus corrupt their children is ridiculous. Miley’s every crotch grab has been grabbing umpteen times as many headlines for a fair while now, you’d have to be living under a rock sans WiFi to think that she’d be putting on any more Hannah Montana style hoe – no pun intended – downs. I don’t think it’s so much Miley’s judgement we should question here but that of anyone who, having seen that VMA’s performance and read up on anything about her Bangerz tour so far seriously thought it was a good idea to take a nine year old to the show. Would you take a nine year old to a Snoop Dogg concert and expect him not to encourage “smok[ing] weed every day?” No, of course not. Admittedly the big D-O-double-G didn’t start his career with Disney but should taking a particular role as a pre teen mean that Miley has to either continue playing that role for the rest of her days or give up showbiz entirely? Miley Cyrus not a dinky Disney princess anymore and, as far as I can see, it’s her decision whether or not she wants to be – I’ve written before about the expectation on any female in the public eye to be a role model, you can read it here – From Britney to Bieber, we’ve all seen many a Mouseketeer go through similar – if infinitely less polished – processes of changing their image so why would anyone expect Miley to continue to conform to the Disney stereotype? Let alone when we’ve spend the past year watching her do the exact opposite. The notion that her current success is somehow riding on the back of the Hannah Montana days also seems pretty far fetched to me. Whether you find it impressive or abhorrent, I don’t think you can deny that Miley Cyrus has masterfully rebranded herself, taking full advantage of modern celebrity culture, the pervasive nature of social media and and the world’s fixation with scandal to become a money making, ticket selling, global phenomenon that appeals to a vast audience in a way that her Disney Channel fame never could.
I think what actually p*ssed me off the most about the coverage I read over a cup of coffee, by the end of which there was more steam coming out of my ears than off my latte, were their endless, openly disapproving references to Cyrus’ encouragement of “same sex kissing”. This was actually a part of the show I found quite moving. To recap, during a particular song Miley encouraged couples to kiss (N.B “same sex” was never specified) to get on camera. Fairly standard procedure at Baseball games where no one bats an eyelid. A few snogs in, a male couple appeared on the cam. The cheering erupted, more same sex couples joined in and Miley got on the mic to say what a beautiful thing it was that those two first brave guys took the plunge and then that others felt comfortable enough to do the same. I found it especially sad that the Daily Mail picked up on this particular aspect of the concert and presented, in several different pieces, as an example of Miley perpetuating depravity. Throughout the week Miley has praised the UK for being so much more open about sexuality than the States, perhaps that’s less true than many of us hope it is.
To quote Miley herself, it’s her life and she’ll do what she want to. Yes, her Bangerz tour has been one long twerking, flesh flashing, parental advisory bonanza that’s not to everyone’s tastes and I certainly wouldn’t recommend taking a child to. But we all knew full well it was going to be. Everyone has the right to their own opinion and to lampoon Miley Cyrus if they so wish but I don’t think you can simply ignore the fact that she’s smart as hell, a seriously talented performer and clearly has a level of commitment most 21 year olds don’t. And call me crazy if you will but when she talked about her love and gratitude for her fans and how much she adores being on stage, I found I really did believe her. It’s perhaps also worth noting that the very same day the Daily Mail laid into the “cynicism” of Miley’s London show, they published another piece encouraging readers to get the “fashion forward 21 year old’s” look by buying a camouflage tote bag.
These are just my opinions and I’m sure a lot of you won’t agree! Tell me what you think in the comments, we all love a good debate…
Love Ella. X