With her Saturday Night Live appearance this past weekend, Miley Cyrus has shown her fans and detractors that she is not the next Sinead O'Connor, nor the next Madonna. She has shown us that she is in fact the next Michael Jackson (stay with me, I'm not talking music or talent) - specifically the Michael Jackson of the late eighties, early nineties.
Around the time after Jackson's album Dangerous was released he sat down for the famous live interview with Oprah in which no topic seemed off-limits (this is before any allegations of sexual abuse, mind you). His first interview in fourteen years at that time, Jackson projected a persona of arrested youth, deprived of a childhood by the pressures of his father and his career. Amid an endless array of rumours about pet monkeys, the elephant man's bones, and plastic surgery, the man ably projected an innocence that he would later milk from his fans for all it was worth.
Later Oprah would interview Jackson's ex-wife, music royalty Lisa-Marie Presley, during which they had much back and forth about how manipulative, conniving and controlling Jackson could be even to those closest to him. In fact Presley painted him as the likely author of the many strange stories that surrounded the man.
In that regard, just as Michael Jackson was not as whacko as he portrayed himself to be, Miley Cyrus is at the apex of a "wild-child," "total breakdown," of her own careful construction. Like Hannibal Lecter wearing poor old Sgt. Pembry's face, Miley is wearing a Britney Spears or Amanda Bynes mask.
"Ready when you are, Sgt. Bynes..."
Like Michael Jackson, she cares not upon whom she shits for her own gain, though one can blame her impetuous, bullying tweets back at Sinead O'Connor on the folly of youth. Jackson, for his part, knew damn well what he was doing when he married Presley and didn't give a shit.
Imitation is the highest form of theft.
She may level off in the next few years or Amy Winehouse herself at 27 but at present, Cyrus is doing a pretty damn good job of controlling the narrative, as her self-informed SNL opener proved.
While everyone was expecting her to carry the twitter tirade at O'Conner onto live television, possibly repeating O'Conner's infamous ripping of a papal photo, she took the arguable "high road" and just made the show about herself. Including twerks and teddy bears, she used the controversy of the past weeks as material for satire with some ham-handed remarks about finding her way into adulthood, even if it has meant the immolation, or as she put it, "murder" of Hannah Montana.
Her acumen for irony could prove the foundation of her relevance in the future, because compared to the moronic, brooding self-important, Kanye-esque antics of her male counterpart the Biebs, Cyrus has kinda got the whole coming-of-age thing nearly behind her.