October 11, 2013
If you find yourself asking, “Who cares?” when pop culture is discussed, the answer is, “Everyone but you.” As Nick Gillespie once said to me, “Nobody remembers who the Speaker of the House was in 1938, but everyone remembers Shirley Temple.”
Today’s Shirley Temple is Hannah Montana, or at least it was until she reinvented herself as a horny 20-year-old named Miley Cyrus. This summer, the new Hannah introduced the world to twerking. The responses to her African butt dance ranged from saying it “borders on pornography” to insisting it was yet another example of her “reckless use of black culture.” I care how 20-year-olds dance about as much as you do, but what was truly shocking about this event was how many people gave a shit. It was “MILEY MANIA.”
I was visiting Madison, WI at the time and it seemed like every parent at every park and in every line at the airport was voicing their outrage. I haven’t seen this kind of unanimous disappointment since Nazi skinheads discovered that the guy on the Strength Thru Oi! record is gay. A month later, just as millions of moms were on the verge of recovering, Miley doubled down with a video that featured her totally nude and licking a sledgehammer. Now America was really mad. They expected an apology from a reformed slut, but they got hit with “Wrecking Ball.”
Pop star Sinead O’Connor (who has another life as a sexually ambiguous priest with a history of mental illness) penned a letter to Cyrus warning her that the music industry will “prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its [sic] what YOU wanted.” Attention hound Amanda Palmer responded with a letter to O’Connor claiming Miley is “in charge of her own show.” Two and a Half Men star Amber Tamblyn wrote a mocking “OPEN LETTER FOR THE OPEN LETTER TO THE OPEN LETTER,” insisting that “we as women must continue this important dialogue.”
The joke was far from over. Miley responded to Sinead by comparing her to the notoriously unhinged Amanda Bynes. This made Sinead go completely nuts. She demanded apologies, threatened to sue, and claimed Miley was risking people’s lives by mocking crazy people. “Taking me on is even more fuckin’ stupid than behaving like a prostitute,” Sinead warned. Miley hosted SNL that week, and the entire show appeared to be devoted to Miley’s past couple of months. Sinead hasn’t stopped writing open letters to her new nemesis. The most recent one suggests that people will die if Miley doesn’t apologize.