Another day, another naked photo of Miley Cyrus. That's the way things roll on the internet, so why the shocked look? Sure, Cyrus upped the ante this time by posing in bed with two presumed nude male photographers, her breasts uncovered and exposed to the world. But this is just part of the natural progression she's been setting up since she began promoting Bangerz over the summer, so don't even pretend you're remotely scandalized.
When Cyrus first began shocking fans with suggestive dance moves and racy photo shoots over the summer, the reaction was understandable. She'd completed her transformation from goofy country gal to pop shockster and it was jarring. But the changes were mostly disorienting because we'd gotten used to seeing Disney stars break bad once their contracts were up. We'd seen Demi Lovato experience tough times and head to rehab. We watched as Vanessa Hudgens sent naked photos to a boyfriend and was shamed for them. This was the merry-go-round of rebellion shame and we were convinced that everyone on it would eventually hop off.
When Cyrus chopped off all of her hair, it was still a phase. When she she said "In my mind I'm Gucci Mane, but on paper I'm a pop artist," we shook our heads. The quote was just a silly sound byte. We ignored Pharrell Williams' endorsements of her album and instead focused on the absurdities in the video for "We Can't Stop" — of which there are admittedly, plenty. When she performed at the MTV VMAs, no one could stop talking about how naked she was or inappropriate her dancing was. When she was naked on a wrecking ball, the narrative was less about how great that pop ballad is and more about how naked Cyrus was. There was talk of her being exploited by the music industry. Then she masturbated in a music video. Now, she's completely topless and baring her breasts in W Magazine and it's time to say "uncle."
If Cyrus is going through a phase, none of our posturing can stop it. If she's faking, criticizing her for her false display is only going to make her try harder. This is the new Miley, and even if it's temporary, it really doesn't matter. But beyond that, is she really doing anything — with regard to sexual images and sexual dance moves (video below) — that Rihanna and Lady Gaga haven't done before her? For Godsakes, Gaga mimicked the missionary position with R. Kelly on the SNL stage and no one batted an eye. Rihanna Instagrams blunts and bouquets of weed and it doesn't make headlines.
Plus, it's clear that even censors are getting tired of acting as if Cyrus' sexual behavior is shocking. In a new extra from her MTV Unplugged performance, MTV is required to place a "Warning: This video contains adult content" before the video plays, but they cheekily added "Apparently that's a big deal." And really, it's not. If you're watching Cyrus and haven't been in a bunker for the last six months, you're probably not going to be shocked when she pats her vagina and gestures for the audience to lick it. She's just being Miley, after all.
Yes, Cyrus used to be a kid, but she's not now. And whether or not you agree that what she's doing it art working to alter the landscape of pop music or a slew of cheap gimmicks, Cyrus clearly isn't stopping. This is who she is, even if it's just right now — she's still only 23, so expecting that she'll change eventually or drop her "act" isn't beyond belief.
So go ahead, hate her for gaming the system with her antics or hate her for misappropriating black culture or for using little people as props her in her performances, but chill out when she's naked for the umpteenth time. In the grand scheme of Miley things, it's really little more than a blip on the radar.