NEW YORK Miley Cyrus
In 2013, Miley Cyrus wagged her tongue and set tongues wagging. Thanks to a handful of steamy videos, some outrageous wardrobe choices and an erotic comedic performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, Cyrus took the warp-speed path from directionless ex-child star (as the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana) to the most directional of pop stars, sliding easily into the role of pop’s enfant terrible. Her album Bangerz (RCA) was notable for its risk-taking attitude in a year when her competition played it frustratingly smooth.
One recent morning, she was at the Four Seasons after a bumpy weekend in which she missed a show in Boston because of weather, then had problems with her voice. But even at the early hour, she was focused and businesslike and hyper self-aware.
1 I was struck in your MTV documentary, Miley: The Movement , by how aware of the VMAs importance you were.
But I didn’t know that I was going to be the only one that was really going to push it like that. It’s actually really funny how many people could watch my performance, and they think it was, like, sexist and degrading to women, and somehow people found that it was racist. Because I’m like: “How do I win? If I have white dancers, then I’m racist. If I have black girl dancers, then I’m racist.” We know we’re not racist, and I know I’m not putting down women.
2 As people have brought these things up to you over the last year, has it changed your personal thinking about race?
No, I never let that change me. My grandma, who is alive, was living in a time where there was no way in hell that she would’ve ever thought there would’ve been a black president. I mean, never. And my grandma’s, like, not even 80, so this is in a short period of time that things have changed so much.
3 You obviously know that the primary visual imprint of you from the last six months is either the VMAs or your videos.
I went from people just thinking I was, like, a baby to people thinking I’m this, like, sex freak that really just pops molly and does lines all day. It’s like, “Has anyone ever heard of rock ’n’ roll?” There’s a sex scene in pretty much every single movie, and they go, “Well, that’s a character.” Well, that’s a character. I don’t really dress as a teddy bear and, like, twerk on Robin Thicke, you know?
4 How closely do you watch what other pop stars are doing?
I watch everyone’s music videos, to the point where I’m OCD, looking at every single thing they’re wearing and what they’re doing. … But now I realize how much they’re not being themselves either. You don’t have to be signed to Disney Channel to be put in a box, or to be rated PG. I’m with artists sometimes, and I’ll take a picture of them or whatever. They make me delete it.
5 Was it true that you had a Vogue cover pulled because of the VMAs?
I can’t say too much. But it was where I was kind of going to have to do this trade-off, and I wasn’t willing to. Right now, me doing any kind of cover for anything that’s, like, a Seventeen or Teen Vogue or whatever, the way that I talk isn’t the way that people that are 17 really understand.
— Jon Caramanica, New York Times News Service