Maybe you do not keep up with the ouvre of Miley Cyrus, teeny bopper extraordinaire who ruled the minds of American youth for years with her Disney sitcom Hannah Montana. Predictably, after her time as “the perfect and All American girl,” Ms. Cyrus faced a variety of scandals. First she was caught dancing on a strip pole. When asked about it, Cyrus called the strip pole a “purity pole,” something the virginity-promoting Disney did not appreciate. Then came the sexy photos. The rumors of drugs. Just this week Twitter was aflutter with Miley Cyrus’s 19th birthday cake, an image of Bob Marley, and her statement that
You know you’re a stoner when friends make you a Bob Marley cake — you know you smoke way too much f**kin’ weed.
Of course Miley insisted she was just joking. That’s not a joint; it’s a purity-rette she was smoking.
But none of that matters now because what Miley Cyrus will forever be known for is being the singer who came up with the anthem for the Occupy Wall Street movement. That’s right. Check out the anthem of our time: “Liberty Walk.”
With an uber-pop electronic beat and images of Occupy movements from around the world, Miley’s dubstep tells us that “it’s a liberty walk” and “it’ll be all right” and dedicates the song “to the thousands standing up for what they believe.”
Some leaders of the Occupy movement are not that impressed with Miley Cyrus as a revolutionary. Priscilla Grim, editor of the influential Occupied Wall Street Journal, told TMZ:
I double dog dare [her] to fight on the front line of economic civil rights at LA City Hall.
But Ms. Grim has it wrong. Miley has done for Occupy Wall Street what Pete Seeger did with “Bring ‘Em Home” or “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.” She has condensed this historical moment into a beat and a couple of lyrics.
NOT. Just kidding. The song sucks. It’s completely without any politics, doesn’t even reference economic justice, and is everything the protests are not: highly produced, slick, and profit-motivated. If Miley Cyrus cares about economic justice, if she wants to represent a movement that is based on what can only be described as a redistribution of wealth, then she cannot live her incredibly posh lifestyle AND try to cash in on the sentiments of the time. She is, after all, worth $120-MILLION dollars.
But perhaps what Miley Cyrus’s teenybopper attempt to cash in on the Occupy movement represents is what will actually happen next: Consumer capitalism will do what it always does with antagonisms—it will package them and sell them. One only need to think about how punk became something you can buy in the mall and S/M piercings became standard jewelry for suburban teens. We will be subjected to a spate of commercials that use the Occupy theme to get us to buy things, haute couture that will imitate the “look” of Occupiers, and other forms of turning authentic social movements into consumable spectacle.
And sadly, we will mistake the consumption of Occupy as a commodity for doing what Ms. Cyrus so wisely calls the “Liberty Walk.”