Within minutes of her appearance at the recent MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus caused a hurricane in the social media world. Controversy swirled over her outfit, her performance and the content of her song. Just as the blaze cooled down, Cyrus released the music video for her new single, "Wrecking Ball." Again, the surprised comments and the reprimanding tweets began, this time focusing on the nudity and other suggestive actions in the video.
After these latest antics, it's hard to imagine Miley Cyrus as the pure Hannah Montana of her fans' childhoods, the girl that became famous for releasing songs like "The Climb" and "Party in the USA." Transitioning from catchy pop hits to much more mature music reflects a more significant change in Cyrus' persona. As she grows older, she is trying to break free of the child-star stereotypes, much like many others have struggled to do in the past (see: Emma Watson). It has not been rapid transition, either: Cyrus has been "growing up" since she released her third album, "Can't Be Tamed," and played Veronica "Ronnie" Miller in a 2010 film "The Last Song."
But is this change, this transition really as bad as the media is making it out to be? Should a person -- famous musician or not -- really be criticized for wanting to grow up and grow out? What is so wrong with a 20-year-old gaining maturity and experimenting with an all-new personality?
As an artist, Cyrus should be respected. A provocative performance at the VMAs -- not the Grammys, where a class act is required -- should be taken for the entertainment it was meant to be. The Video Music Awards are not targeted at young children or preteens, but instead are meant for teenagers and young adults. Critics say that Cyrus' performance was unexpected and too provocative for children. It's ironic, then, that Robin Thicke was scheduled to perform his controversial and very sexist "Blurred Lines," and these same concerned parents still permitted their kids to watch the ceremony.
And her barely-there outfit should not be a reason for concern -- haven't pop stars been performing to large audiences in skimpy outfits for decades (Madonna, Lady Gaga, anyone?). Much of the music that wins awards today contains adult themes, why can't the performances?
The "Wrecking Ball" video contains much more than a 20-year-old, practically naked, on a wrecking ball. Cyrus is in tears for most of it. In these sections, it is impossible to make eye contact with her because her face is contorted with the deep, powerful emotions she is embodying. Only after getting over the "Oh my gosh, she's naked!" mentality can it be realized that the entire video is a metaphor for how vulnerable Cyrus is feeling at this point in her life. (No, really). It can't be easy living your life constantly trying to safeguard your secrets from interfering paparazzi who want to know every detail about your rocky relationship.
During both her first and second live performances of "Wrecking Ball" at the recent iHeart Radio festival, Cyrus was in tears and her voice carried the depth that can only come when the emotion behind a song is real and tangible for the artist. The nudity should not be taken for its face value, but rather for its artistic value. There is a reason, but it seems that only those who are not mature enough to comprehend it are watching the video.
Whatever she is doing, Cyrus must be doing something right. People are talking about her, watching her performances, and buying her music. With each performance, she generates publicity for the next one. Cyrus is giving her audiences music that is catchy and powerful. She is growing up, albeit publicly. Why shouldn't she? In the end, Miley Cyrus will grow up regardless of the social media hatred directed toward her.
The question is: Can her audiences grow up too?
The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write for the features sections.
Garima Raheja attends American High School in Fremont. Reach her at email@example.com