There's something about Miley Cyrus that elicits a strong reaction in people. Even in the days before her radical haircut and experimentation with salvia, something about Miley made people cry "slut." So much so that an artistic Annie Leibovitz photo taken for the cover of Vanity Fair in 2008 scandalized everyone from Disney on down. While a 15-year-old Cyrus understood that the topless photo "wasn't in a skanky way," parents were crying for Hannah Montana's cancellation. Now, five years later, Cyrus appears braless on a magazine cover once again, and, while popular opinion of the star has shifted slightly, the slut-shaming continues to rival the proclamations of love.
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At 20 years of age, Cyrus has reached a level of comfort in her own skin that far older women still strive to achieve. And, as evidenced by her 2010 album Can't Be Tamed, this is no recent development. After years of wearing revealing outfits and engaging in risqué behavior, Miley has successfully bucked her squeaky-clean alter ego Hannah Montana and emerged as her own person — and a strong, opinionated, beautiful person at that. Because the thing about Cyrus is, for all her innuendo, she's never felt false. Whether she is running errands braless or making out with her older boyfriend, it has always been clear that Miley is just being Miley. And, furthermore, Cyrus' indiscretions never crossed the line from teenaged rebellion to criminal or dangerous behavior. So she's smoking a bong. So what? What 17-year-old isn't becoming familiar with weed? At least she doesn't have a DUI and isn't checking into rehab — the same can hardly be said for all of Disney's protégées.
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But despite the eyebrows that were raised in reaction to Cyrus' more questionable extracurricular activities, critiques of the young star have been focused on her sexuality. Cyrus, it has been decided, is a pouting, smoldering look-giving, cleavage-baring, ho bag — and she has been ever since she developed her womanly figure. Even though Cyrus rarely spoke about her relationships and hardly gallivanted about with a new boy every week, she somehow earned a reputation as a girl who got around. And it stuck.
Cyrus has now been monogamous for four years and is happily engaged to Hunger Games star Liam Hemsworth. In her interview with Cosmo for the magazine's March issue, Cyrus goes as far as to say, "Number one [in my life] is my relationship with Liam," and refers to him as her "hubby" (even though rumors of a secret marriage were quickly squashed). Cyrus is about as far from single and ready to mingle as you can get, and yet the cries of "slut" continue.
On the other end of the spectrum is another Disney darling — the virgin to Cyrus' whore — Selena Gomez. Gomez's wardrobe on the red carpet and on stage rivals Cyrus' in skin exposure and yet not an eye is blinked. When Gomez wore a crop top and short skirt to the 2012 Kids' Choice Awards, fans called her "cute." But when Cyrus wore a similar style to the Hunger Games premiere, people were appalled. It seems Gomez can be as overtly sexual as she wishes — for further proof, look to the rather wet ad campaign she shot for her fragrance (above) and recall her steamy ocean make-out with ex-boyfriend, Justin Bieber — and maintain her wholesome image, while Miley can't wear a bikini on the beach without earning finger wags.
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The difference between Cyrus and Gomez, I've decided, is the way in which they carry themselves. While Gomez punctuates her flirtations with a coquettish question mark, Cyrus isn't afraid to make declarative statements. Gomez is coy, while Cyrus is confident. And at the heart of it, Cyrus is a woman who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to tell us. She is a woman in control of her body and life and that is terrifying to people. So the seventh grade name-calling persists. But Miley Cyrus is absolutely, definitively, not a slut — she's just being Miley. Can you handle that?
Follow Abbey Stone on Twitter @abbeystone
[Photo Credit: Cosmopolitan; Selena Gomez Perfumes]
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Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
The producer of Miley Cyrus' new film The Last Song has leaped to the Disney star's defense -- after sparking controversy with 'provocative' photos he posted online.
Adam Shankman recently uploaded images of 16-year-old Cyrus straddling a chair on his Twitter.com page after taking the shots in the singer/actress' makeup trailer.
The pictures quickly spread online, prompting some critics to question whether Cyrus' poses in the snaps were appropriate for a teenage role model.
But Shankman has moved swiftly to calm the furor.
Defending his decision to post the photos, he says, "Miley is a sweet angel who works tirelessly and endlessly, and is allowed to have fun in the make up room! Seriously! Lighten up or no more behind the scenes pics! She's like my angel little sister."
It's not the first time Cyrus has come under fire for taking controversial pictures. She posed seminude for an Annie Leibovitz photoshoot; posted images of herself flashing her underwear; and in February, she was forced to apologize for taking snaps in which she and her friends appeared to mock Asians by pulling on their eyes.
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