Miley Cyrus, Messaging, And The Artsploitation Of The Occupy Movement

Maybe I should be less cynical, and we do love ourselves some “Party in the USA” here at ThinkProgress headquarters, but I’m not particularly moved by the sight of Miley Cyrus recycling a year-old anodyne girl power anthem and cutting it with a lot of footage from Occupy movements in a statement of radical chic solidarity:

I do think there’s some real value to Cyrus’ core audience seeing images of police brutality. But having a real context for that brutality would lift this video beyond generic teenaged stick-it-to-the-manism in a way that would be useful and specific. There are a lot of signs that show up in the footage: “Wall Street or War Street,” “Trust me—I’m a Banker,” “I Am the 99 percent,” “Separation of Corporation and State,” and “Don’t Destroy the American Dream.” Those slogans sound dandy, but they don’t actually explain why the people in the video or protesting, or why the police have been sanctioned to bring such violence to bear against them. Cyrus’ note accompanying the video, “This is Dedicated to the thousands of people who are standing up for what they believe in” is equally meaningless, a non-endorsement endorsement that can’t possibly rattle the cage at Hollywood Records.

I feel like such a scold about all of this, but Cyrus’s core fan group is exactly at the age where they’re about to start having adult experiences with debt and income inequality. If they’re applying for college, they may be taking on loans that they can never discharge in bankruptcy. If they’re getting their first credit cards, it might be good for them to know a thing or two about interest rates. A specific endorsement of the goals of the 99 Percent Movement might be uncomfortable for Cyrus, who was born into the 1 percent and has solidified her position there by making herself seem like a consumption priority for young girls. But if Cyrus is genuinely in invested not merely in the idea that free speech is good, but in the belief that widening income inequality is deeply damaging, there are more creative and meaningful things she can do than dust off her back catalogue and slap an Occupy sticker on it.