Why Did we Tweet Outrage at Miley Cyrus but Ignore Justin Bieber’s Prostitutes?

I know as a middle aged, Christian mother of a teenage daughter, I’m not supposed to like Miley Cyrus right now.

But I kinda do.

There’s just something about her neo-punk, yee-ha ride on the news cycle mechanical bull that I prefer to Britney’s hair-shaving, Justin’s true descent (more on that later) or Kim’s (and before her Paris’s) cynical path to fame via a “leaked” sex video.

Right now, Miley and the most famous tongue since the Rolling Stones are serving up a new generation of youthful rebellion, complete with a new take on the adage don’t trust anyone over 30.

This is where I part ways from my pearl-clutching contemporaries. Give me some youthful rebellion over obedient drones any day.

I’d like the most entitled generation – ever – to wake up, stop expecting things, and start demanding them. I’d like them to stop being so mindlessly earnest: about the environment, about not offending anyone, about being milksap and good and nice and socially acceptable, and make some waves.

Maybe they’ll get angry at the world and start fighting. Maybe they’ll start to make a way for themselves.

That is a good thing, at its core. Something this country needs.

20 year olds who aren’t angry aren’t paying attention.

I’m not sure Miley is angry, but she is smart. If fame is a wild mythical creature, a dragon with razor claws and cameras for eyes, then Miley has thrown a bit in its mouth and is riding it hell-for-leather. Maybe she’s riding naked, which strikes me as uncomfortable, but there is no doubt she has wrestled that monster to her will.

I’d prefer it with more clothes, perhaps, but then again, who are the ones who started taking off their clothes? I’m looking at you, Madonna…and Bo Derek….and Brooke Shields…and Marilyn Monroe…and Rita Hayworth…and Betty Grable. I’m having a hard time getting too outraged at the scandalous nudity.

By all accounts she’s having the ride of her life.

Not that there’s anything inherently valuable beyond taming the fame monster. It will be interesting when she stops yelling “I’m not your pretty pretty princess anymore, daddy” at the world,  to see whether she has anything valuable to say. Her talent–at anything other than demanding attention – is mediocre at best.  But she does have the spotlight exactly where she wants it and could, someday, do something with it.

As, for instance, Lily Allen does.

In response to Miley, her new video is truly interesting. Warning: It’s every bit as crass and explicit and graphic as Miley’s VMA performance, but has a whole other level of meaning that Miley can’t even begin to approach. While Miley is flailing about wildly, Lily Allen is punching back. Hard.

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“Don’t you want to find someone who objectifies you?” HA. Great line, one of many.

So far, we’re talking about female pop stars and their use or overuse of their own sexuality. But what about the boys? And this leads me to the most depressing celebrity news yet, depressing for two reasons.

There are two reports of another former squeaky clean pop sensation behaving badly. Justin Bieber, who unlike Miley is innately highly talented, has been reported in a brothel in Brazil  and spending the night with a prostitute in Panama. If these claims are true – and they appear to be but are such serious charges that judgement should be reserved to some degree – it is deeply, deeply disturbing.

As Michelle Brock has written, it’s not light or fun or trifling to use sex workers.

It’s not ok.

It breaks my heart to think American/Canadian men like Bieber or the Secret Service or any number of businessmen oppress these women and take away the idea of America and/or Canada as a place of justice and help and rescue.

If Miley is riding the fame monster, Bieber, like so many before him, is being consumed.

But I have a question for us all. I don’t know the answer, but is the second depressing tidbit and it bothers me greatly.

Why, when Miley twerked her way through the VMAs and tongued her way through the press, did we tweet and write and opine with apoplectic frenzy but when Bieber does something truly shocking, we don’t?

Is it because he’s a boy and she’s a girl?

Or is it that we are obedient to the press machine ourselves? Are we, collectively, riding this monster or is it riding us?

About Rebecca Cusey

Rebecca is a lead critic and editor of entertainment at Patheos. Follow her on Twitter @Rebecca_Cusey

  • Trista Cooper

    I understand what you’re saying. I was much more appalled at Robin Thicke’s performance at the VMAs than Miley’s. I can’t see where what she did is any worse than some of Britney/Madonna/Katy Perry/Lady Gaga’s performances.

    I think that Beiber is getting a pass because he’s moved himself so far out of the spotlight. As a children’s minister and youth pastor’s wife, I try to pay attention to the general world around me, but I didn’t know anything about Justin Beiber’s actions. The general population of tweens and girls have moved on to One Direction and the Wanted (whoever they are), so I don’t think moms are as focused on Beiber anymore. Maybe I’m way off base. Is he still the celebrity with the best social media presence?

  • Doug

    lol.

  • Rebecca Wimer

    Loved this, thanks!


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