In case you missed the most recent installment of “Miley Cyrus Acting Out,” allow us to recap briefly: Last week, the newly-19 Cyrus was caught on video at her birthday party joking about how much weed she smokes (“You know you’re a stoner when friends make you a Bob Marley cake”), and then, over Thanksgiving, the prolific vlogger posted an Occupy Wall Street tribute video to YouTube. The pot anecdote was nothing more than a punch line — Cyrus has been caught with illicit substances before, and also, it was her birthday party; kids will be kids. But the erstwhile Hannah Montana caught a lot of flak for her OWS montage — which was dedicated “to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in” and featured footage from the Occupy protests set to a remix of her own “Liberty Walk” — mostly from people who thought that a teenaged millionaire Disney star had no business clumsily inserting herself in the populist movement (or politics in general). Paired with the recent stoner comments, the trustafarian and drum circle jokes more or less wrote themselves, and sure, they were funny. But they were also unfair!
Let’s remember a few things about Miley Cyrus: She’s been hustling for Disney, as a singer and actress, since the age of 12; her father, who became famous for a mullet and a song called “Achy Breaky Heart,” made millions off her career and then started voicing his fatherly disappointment in public; she dated a Jonas. Her world almost came crashing down over an ill-advised Annie Lebowitz photo. By all established laws of child stardom, she’s due for a total meltdown.
But instead, commendably, 19-year-old Miley is rebelling in the old-fashioned, dare we say American, way: with pot, Nirvana, some unfortunate legging choices, and endearing lefty idealism. Consider her recent Twitter campaign against body snarking — it was personally motivated, sure (in response to a Sun article about her “curves”) but not without a point. (Miley Cyrus: not fat.) And her Occupy Wall Street video, in the context of Miley’s regular blogging and the YouTube Tribute Video tradition, is honestly not so bad — silly, but really nothing more than a statement of support. If Cyrus showed up at Zuccotti Park in fake protest, assuming the 99 percent’s troubles as her own, then maybe her detractors would have a point about dilettante activism or “neutered” media coverage. But what college-aged kid hasn’t mouthed off at a family dinner about some desperate liberal cause?
Miley’s just doing it with an audience, and after watching a parade of teen celebrities follow far sadder paths, her textbook teenage defiance is refreshing. Remember, she could be shaving her head or building a giant amusement park for one. We’ll take a few bad covers and some Communist Manifesto riffs instead. Future former child stars, here’s some unlikely, but no less genuine, advice: Don’t be afraid to be like Miley.