By: Kristin Helf, Columnist
The VMAs were on Aug. 30 and as we all know, it was pretty eventful for an awards show that barely gives out any awards.
Among other things that happened that night, Miley Cyrus released her fifth studio album (as Miley, not as Hannah,), “Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.”
The album was produced by Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips and has received mixed—albeit mostly negative—reviews.
I’ll start by commending Miley on what she did right: I love that she released her music without any promotion, taking a page out of Beyoncé’s book, and that the album streams free online, accessible to fans of all economic status. Taylor Swift infamously pulled her music off of Spotify, but Miley at least understands that not everyone can afford $1.29 a song.
Still, “Dead Petz” leaves a lot to be desired. Cyrus is clearly still trying to rebel, as most 20-something ex-Disney stars are apt to do, but it’s unclear who or what she’s rebelling against; the album has no clear direction.
Her songs touch on themes like “weed; sex; the universe, man,” as Vulture’s Lindsay Zoladz puts it. One of my favorite critiques also comes from Zoladz, which perfectly sums up the album as a whole:
“A friend pointed out that we should cut Cyrus some slack because she made this record during the years that, had the former “Hannah Montana” star had anything resembling a normal childhood, she would have spent in college, ripping bong hits and musing about the cosmos. That makes sense. “Dead Petz” often feels like the sonic equivalent of a John Lennon dorm-room poster, purchased from the campus store with a parent’s (or, perhaps in this case, an eccentric uncle’s) credit card.”
Instead of “ripping bong hits and musing about the cosmos,” which has resulted in one of the worst quasi-psychedelic records of all time, Cyrus’ time would have been better spent educating herself on the social issues that arise from her frequent cultural appropriation and ignorance.
One of these issues was highlighted during the best moment to come out of the VMA’s: “Now, back to this b*tch who had a lot to say about me in the press the other day. Miley, what’s good?”
What a majority of the press has made out to be nothing more than a celebrity cat fight belittles the point that Nicki Minaj was trying to make.
It would take a while to dig through the entire history of the Minaj/Swift twitter battle, so here’s a quick recap: Essentially, when Minaj’s “Anaconda” music video had been snubbed and taken out of the VMA nominations, Nicki was vocal about the very true fact that only slim, white bodies, like the ones depicted in Taylor Swift’s VMA-nominated “Bad Blood” video, are celebrated in mainstream culture. And then, even after Swift apologized and the whole thing was all but forgotten, Miley called Nicki out in an interview with the “New York Times”:
“If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself. I know you can make it seem like, ‘Oh I just don’t understand because I’m a white pop star.’ I know the statistics. I know what’s going on in the world. But to be honest, I don’t think MTV did that on purpose.”
And in that one interview, despite what Cyrus argued, it doesn’t seem like she really does know what’s going on the world. If Miley wants to involve herself in social issues, she should learn a little more before she goes to the press to speak out against well-meaning rap stars.
Maybe she should apologize for the part she’s played in making the appropriation of black culture all the more prominent in Hollywood, from the twerking to the dread locks to being quoted as saying, “I want urban, I just want something that feels black,” before making “We Can’t Stop”.
In what’s considered her weirdest, most “rebellious” album yet, “Dead Petz” fails to make any social commentary about the culture that Cyrus takes so much from. So much as a glance at her Instagram this past year would have told us that her new album would be about sex and weed, but what’s edgy about that?
If Miley Cyrus really wants to break barriers and produce something that will shock us, she should pick up a pen instead of speaking to the press and figure out what exactly she’s trying to criticize about the society that made her a child star.