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Don't be so predictable

Miley Cyrus (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)


Don't be so predictable

Another open letter to Miley Cyrus


As the recipient of more open letters than anyone else in recent memory, the last thing you need is another one. Then again, the last thing the world needs is another album of rapper-studded, blatantly manipulative strumpet pop.  

So maybe if you keep getting these uninvited missives, you’ll understand something of the glut those of us feel who’ve had to immerse ourselves in your new album Bangerz (RCA) out of professional obligation. It’s too much. And it makes us want to take a bath or at least wash our ears out with soap. (Congratulations on debuting at No. 1 on Billboard by the way.)

Entertainment, you see, requires the element of surprise, and there’s nothing surprising anymore about watching a young pop starlet addicted to attention abuse it like a drug and melt down. Britney Spears, the guest vocalist on your new album’s semi-title cut “SMS (Bangerz),” maxed out that template way back when you were Hannah Montana. By the time Lindsay Lohan depressingly followed suit, it already felt like overkill.

And don’t forget Jean Harlow, Frances Farmer, Marilyn Monroe, Anissa Jones, Tatum O’Neal, Tanya Tucker, Maureen McCormick, Dana Plato, Jennifer Capriati, Princess Diana, Amy Winehouse, and Whitney Houston to name just 12. (We’re still holding our breath on Ke$ha, Jennifer Lawrence, and Taylor Swift—and scratching our heads about Chastity Bono.)

The world, in other words, expects those whom Peter (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit no less) once likened to “weaker vessel[s]” to crack under the pressures of disproportionate fame or the agonies of attention-addiction withdrawal. As Aristotle could confirm, seeing such archetypal tragedies repeatedly played out fulfills our subconscious need to believe that somewhere beneath the chaotic winds of current events there are permanent structures undergirding and tethering us to reality.

There are, however, archetypal—even divine—comedies too. And, to your credit, you demonstrate an awareness of and desire to experience, them. “Love is patient, / love is selfless, / love is hopeful, / love is kind,” you sing at the end of “Someone Else” (not a bad song actually) quoting Paul’s famous “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians.

True, you then add “Love is jealous, / love is selfish, / love is helpless, / love is blind,” but half a loaf is better than no bread, and, frankly, these days even crumbs are welcome, if only to mark the way through the forest back to one’s home and away from the candy house. The positive reference to “holy matrimony” in “Adore You” is welcome too.

And speaking of 1 Corinthians, you might do well to consider chapter 11, verse 15. “If a woman has long hair, it is her glory. ... For her hair is given to her for a covering.”

You used to have long hair. It looked good on you. You were pretty. Now you look like Justin Bieber (of whom, trust me, one is enough). And given the recent emergence on the internet of your latest soft-porn photo shoot, you need all the covering you can get. Contrary to popular opinion, modesty does not indicate shame about one’s body but a healthy ability to feel good without the dubious affirmation of a million voyeuristic eyes.

The only eyes that matter are God’s, the truth of which you seem to glimpse through a glass darkly. “Remember, only God can judge us,” you correctly proclaim in your Bangerz song “We Can’t Stop”—correctly, that is, if by judgment you really mean Judgment Day.

What you’re wrong about is your ability to stop.

Use it or lose it, girl.


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  • sbgNY
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    While there is much to lament in the life and career choices of Miley Cyrus, do we really think her hair merits mention in a 1-page article?  Such petty criticism diminishes the  weight and impact of the article.

  • Karen Anderson
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    Though I appreciate the muck you have to slosh through to help Christians be aware of what's happening, please remember that we have nothing to do with judging outsiders, but only those in the Church. We're called to love Miley.

  • Janet B
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    Great letter.  Good to see the fifth graders are "nailing it."I need to call my daughter and ask if she is going to remove those Hannah Montana magnets from the frig....

  • Homeschool lady's picture
    Homeschool lady
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    Excellent letter.  Very good points.  But the reference to "weaker vessel(s)" doesn't work in that context.  The biblical reference refers to a married woman and the way her husband should treat her.  I agree with your point that people eventually crack (morally, emotionally, or both) beneath a huge amount of pressure, but please use a better biblical reference.

  • WORLD User 94453
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    I don't see Miley Cyrus as a victim, other than having foolish parents who clearly have mixed up priorities and lives themselves.  Plus they foolishly allowed (sent?) her to go off to Hollywood at such a young age.  They sent her into the lion's den.  But as far as her current behavior?  She's not a victim.  She has absorbed the world's values and learned what it takes to have a successful entertainment career in our coarsening & decaying culture.  I feel sorry for her, because she is a lost soul looking for meaning & purpose by seeking worldly success & adulation.  She is in need of The Gospel.    

  • hawaiicharles
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    If Miley is laughing, it's laughter born of sheer ignorance.  I believe Sinead O'Connor got it right in her own open letter: the entertainment industry is pimping Ms. Cyrus, and they will cast her aside when they are through with her, just like the other women mentioned in Mr. Orteza's letter.  THEY are the ones laughing all the way to the bank.  If anything, Ms. Cyrus is the victim, although certainly not an innocent one.

  • WORLD User 94453
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    Well said, Mr. Orteza.  The only caveat I would add:  I'm not so sure that she's "a young pop starlet addicted to attention abuse it like a drug and melt down".  I see a cold calculating business-minded young performer who sees her antics generating sales of her music & performances, exemplified by it "debuting at No. 1 on Billboard".  She's laughing all the way to bank, with no moral guardrails. 

  • silverschool
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    I have to feel sorry for any preteen girl whose mother decides to use a Hollywood icon as their "role model".

  • Cmakowski
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    My teacher colleague, when relating our fifth graders observation regarding Miss Cyrus - 'She was a good girl, now she's a [for the sake of the family nature if this website... A two letter slang term for a prostitute]' - observed "What can I say. They've nailed it" We were just grateful they aren't wanting to be her anymore. 

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Mon, 04/11/2016 04:20 pm

    Poor Miley.  I wonder how all those mothers of preteen girls who took them to see Hanna Montana as a role model feel now.   Very disappointing but entirely predictable.