Hey y’all, it’s me, Sam Lansky, and this is my column, Pop Think, where I try to keep you guys from finding out about my secret alter ego who is actually an international pop star with an adorably consonant name. (Fun fact: In my will, I’ve requested that the epitaph on my tombstone read, “He was just being Miley.”)
But really, I do love Miley Cyrus, not only because Can’t Be Tamed was an unheralded pop masterpiece (seriously, if you haven’t listened to “Permanent December” recently, your life is probably 50% less joyful than it should be), but because Miley has one of the most honest relationships with the media of any pop star. While many artists are busy working double-time to save face, Miley has a track record of being brazenly and unabashedly vocal about what she believes in, which I think is pretty rad and kinda inspirational.
The truth is that Miley really can’t be tamed, and even when her choices are unpopular, the sultry chanteuse sticks to her guns. Courage of conviction is hard to come by, which is why I think Miley is a much better role model than we tend to give her credit for.
Credit: Getty Images
In early 2011, an AOL poll voted Miley Cyrus the worst celebrity role model for young girls, well above Lindsay Lohan and Teen Mom’s Amber Portwood. Timing no doubt played a role in this, since the poll arrived a month after Miley’s notorious salvia-smoking video gripped headlines, but it’s a clarion reminder of how fickle the public can be, especially when it comes to their teen idols.
I don’t want to dwell too much on her past missteps, although, it’s no secret that Miley’s image as a Disney Channel pop princess was as squeaky-clean as they come -- which, it should be noted, is a nearly impossible standard to maintain. But like clockwork, as she moved through adolescence, she was hit with one scandal after another: revealing photos of the underage chanteuse taken by A-list shutterbug Annie Leibowitz for a Vanity Fair shoot, a provocative pole-dancing performance of “Party in the U.S.A.” at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, that explosive bong video, and most recently, footage from her 19th birthday party, where Miley owns up to smoking “way too much f------ weed.” (Her rep later said that Miley was just being a “smart-ass” and the weed comment was an “inside joke.” Go figure.)
But Miley has a long track record of taking responsibility for her choices, even if they’ve been lamentable. She’s issued public apologies for her photo scandals, and managed the bong scandal as gracefully as someone in her position can -- she parodied the situation on a "Saturday Night Live" skit, since the show had already developed an ongoing bit parodying Miley’s goofy personality and banter with her father. She's also been candid about her position as a role model, telling Harper's Bazaar last year that "My job isn’t to tell your kids how to act or how not to act because I’m still figuring that out for myself... Your kids are going to make mistakes whether I do or not. That’s just life." Wise words, considering she's still a teenager.
+ Read more on Miley Cyrus' role model status after the jump.