Elle’s buzzy new profile of Miley Cyrus is time capsule material—and not because its subject said anything interesting. Quite the contrary.
Cyrus’s insights went about as deep as this very moving explanation for the name of “She Is Miley Cyrus,” the pop star’s forthcoming album: “‘She’ does not represent a gender,” said Cyrus. “She is not just a woman. ‘She’ doesn’t refer to a vagina. She is a force of nature. She is power. She can be anything you want to be, therefore, she is everything. She is the super she. She is the she-ro. She is the She-E-O.” (How “she” is both genderless and hyper-feminine, I do not know.)
The She-E-O! It’s like Sheryl Sandberg got high at an Alicia Keys concert and taped a TED Talk. But the jargon is actually fitting. Cyrus’s back-and-forth with the writer basically amounted to a regurgitation of bland corporate progressivism cluelessly styled as subversive social justice philosophizing. Cyrus’s interviewer bobbleheaded her way through their conversation, repeatedly and enthusiastically affirming the singer’s canned observations. And that’s what made the interview interesting.
It’s an amusing dance between Cyrus and Elle’s writer, who both represent the boring flavor of progressivism promoted by elites, but seem to feel subversive. “The earth is angry.” “We’ve been treating it badly,” is one of their more insightful exchanges. Here’s a powerful celebrity parroting progressive talking points back to the corporate media that sold them—actively and obliviously finding agreement point after point—with both parties convinced the intellectual output is edgy.
You can see this amusing tension in the photography. Cyrus is the earthy millennial champion of the marginalized, outfitted in glitter and gold.
Other highlights of the interview—clearly part of an organized press campaign for the new album—include Cyrus lamenting pro-life beliefs, embracing the vapid self-love fad, noting her enduring sexual attraction to women, complaining about the words “husband” and “wife,” complaining about double standards for men and women, announcing her decision to forgo reproduction until the environment is fixed, and reflecting on her experience with “trying on identities.”
“I’m not a Disney mascot. I’m a person,” was perhaps the most compelling quote Cyrus provided over the course of the interview. But while she’s long since shed her virginal boardroom image, Cyrus is still kind of a mascot. Even Disney got in on the Georgia boycott, after all.
It’s boilerplate celebrity liberalism, part and parcel of broader elite progressivism, all of which is much less interesting, high-minded, and rebellious than its adherents realize. Subversive leftism absolutely exists, but it’s rarely represented by the people who want to own it.
Cyrus did experience a brief flash of self-awareness in the Elle interview, recalling a day when paparazzi snuck a drone into her yard. “One time I was naked on top of a fake horse when a drone showed up. And I’m like, Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better time. At least I wasn’t sitting there drinking coffee, being boring,” she said. “But now I think it’s kind of uninteresting for people to see me rebel.”
Cyrus is talented, and undoubtedly capable of producing interesting work. But she’s right. At this point, her politics are just about as boring as her twerking.