Ask Matt Labash: Miley Cyrus, the sluttification of America, and the mystery of real women
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Miley Cyrus. Why? And when will it stop?
If I had that kind of insight, do you really think I’d be doing time in this concentration camp of Tucker Carlson’s making? No, I’d be the Entertainment Editor of the HuffingtonPost – the very top of the journalism ziggurat — where I’d write 20 clickbait items a day while chained to my cubicle, allowed breaks only to chug Red Bull soy lattes, to vacate in a bucket, and to appear on HuffPost TV to talk about my findings, since there are many who think headlines such as “Kourtney Kardashian Has Legs for Days in Her Latest Instagram Photos” are too intellectually taxing to go through the trouble of sounding out the words.
But yes, one does not have to be a tabloid reader to have noticed of late that Miley Cyrus has become something close to cultural wallpaper. As a father of two, for me, this is not new. I lived through the aughts, when Cyrus was a bucktoothed, precocious omnipresence on “Hannah Montana” on the Disney Channel. It was a show that seemed to air about 26 hours a day. Even at the time, I wearied of her for all the predictable reasons – her crappy music, her implausible storylines, her bemullet-ed father, now visiting a second generation of mediocrity on the American public.
But I’ve come to view that comparatively sweet and restrained chapter of her life with a bit of nostalgia. For as much as she got on my last nerves, at least she wasn’t eating penis cakes, leaving snail trails on wrecking balls, and incessantly licking herself all the time. Generally speaking, I don’t discourage women from licking themselves in public if they’re so inclined. I’m a libertarian, by temperament. But in Cyrus’s case, I’ll make an exception. As her perpetually exposed tongue makes her look like a Brussels Griffon with its head out the car window, badly in need of water. Or like a lesbian Justin Bieber (assuming Bieber isn’t already a lesbian) who is experiencing an uncomfortable edema after touching off a peanut allergy.
Now comes word that Cyrus just did a Rolling Stone spread in which she appears – you’ll never see this coming – nude. And she celebrated this monumental rite of celebrity womanhood by getting “Rolling Stone” tattooed on the soles of her feet. I’m glad she supports print journalism and all. Though now that she seems to get a new tat per week, her ink spreading like bad eczema, I just hope she doesn’t run out of room, in the event she does a sit-down with The Wilson Quarterly.
I’m not trying to wound Miley Cyrus, necessarily. From the look of her subliterate tweetings (“Lemmmmmmme think of sum special I can do for y’all getting me to 14 million”), I don’t make her for a big reader anyway. Though I am trying to make an example of her, hoping perhaps some of her minions will take my very important message to other coming-of-age female celebrities via the Twidiocracy echo chamber (upon which most of them live and breed). It’s a very simple message. And it goes like this: Female former child stars of the world, stop being so slutty!
Yes, we know you became famous as a kid, or a tween, and your 11-year-old fan base will not stay with you forever, so you have to “grow up.” Yes, we know that if you don’t adapt and keep stoking your white-hot career with tabloid headlines and bad lifestyle choices, that you will end up middle-class, or dead like the cast of “Diff’rent Strokes,” or twerking in obscurity as a Cinnabon cashier. At which time, nobody will care if you’ve Instagrammed your tongue that day.
From where you’re sitting, I’m sure all of these things sound like unthinkable fates. But there is a fate worse than any of these: being who you are, right now. This clownish, desperate, clawing, cloying fame-whore who will do anything to get noticed, and who isn’t fooling anybody that that is all you are doing. Have some self-respect, already.
Yes, you’re a woman now. Or close enough. By which I mean you have boobs and a vagina, out of which could theoretically come a baby (God help the theoretical child). But roughly half the population has these things. And most of them make it through their entire adult lives without ever rubbing these parts all over creepy Robin Thicke’s preposterous zebra pants. So maybe it’s time to aim a little higher?
Being a child star has never been a racket that lends itself to aging gracefully. But over the last decade or so, our celebrity landscape is littered with the SpearsLohanBynesCyrus-esque wreckage of girls who have no idea how to become real women, and who are modeling that unattractively misguided version of womanhood to their girl fans who don’t know any differently, and who might mistakenly think that womanhood entails rubbing your naughty parts on anything that moves, acting like a human vibrator, and (badly) spelling out all your exploits in solipsistic tweets.
Real women are complex, sentient, articulate, intelligent creatures. Real women have mystery, and tend not to post selfies. A real woman’s sexuality is but a facet of their personality, which has the added benefit of making them even more desirable. A real woman reveals herself slowly, and makes you want to know more of her, rather than constantly making herself known. Real women use their tongues to say things worth listening to. Not just to lick things.
If Miley Cyrus had half a brain – and it’s quite possible that’s the upper limit of what she’s working with – she’d do something really grown up. She’d try becoming one.
Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine. His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.