Miley Cyrus

By: Tom Nealon
November 23, 2013


MILEY CYRUS (Destiny Hope Cyrus, born 1992) has lived one of the most peculiarly American lives in memory. Everyone points to her protean public face as evidence that she’s another spoiled fraud, Paris Hilton with a Britney candy shell, but it’s really evidence of the contrary. This shifting of faces is her nature, there is nothing behind the mask. When she gestures at punk, country, goth, sporty, they are the real-world equivalent of emoticons; ephemeral, disposable, forgotten. She is quite genuinely and entirely artifice. And not surprisingly, you would be too if you had been pretending to be a teenager with a secret double life as a pop-star while becoming a teenager with a double life as a pop-star since you were 14. And what little remains, that clingy residue of childhood, she has sensibly set out to eradicate (see, for example, twerking with teddy bears at the VMAs) with the single mindedness, if not always the inventiveness, of the Marquis de Sade doing away with his Catholicism. You want to project something onto her resistant smoothness — if that was me, if she was my daughter, why does she, and the hair, the abs, and… nothing. These are impossibilities. If you think it’s all an act, all a put-on, you’re looking at it through the wrong end of the telescope. To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, Miley Cyrus is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.


On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: Harpo Marx.

READ MORE about men and women born on the cusp between the Social Darwikian (1983-92) and the TBA (1993–2002) Generations.