Culture

Why Miley Cyrus Must Go the Full Lady Gaga

Miley Cyrus has heard enough from Donald Trump, apparently. But is her latest outburst simply a cry for attention?

The shock-obsessed singer dashed off an angry social media missive earlier this week. She blasted the GOP front-runner for being a misogynist … and more.

“Trump can’t stop won’t stop saying stupid ass sexist s—,” the singer wrote via her Instagram account. “Comparing two women! Are you f—ing kidding! We will not allow you to destroy everything we have overcome as women! I feel as though we are stronger than ever as a unit.”

Was anyone breathlessly waiting for Cyrus to weigh in on the 2016 presidential race?

It’s impossible to examine anything from Team Cyrus and not run it through a media filter. We haven’t paid attention to Cyrus in some time, and the erstwhile “Hannah Montana” can’t have that. Time to snare some headlines. And slamming Trump is the fastest way to do just that.

That’s the problem with Cyrus circa 2016. She’s running out of ways to grab our attention.

Way back in 2013 she gave us the Twerk Heard ‘Round the World on MTV’s VMAs telecast. That precocious pre-teen was now pop’s latest rebel. Reporters ate it up, and suddenly her singing career was red-hot.

She couldn’t stop with a few suggestive twerks. Cyrus continued down her shock-filled path, talking up her drug use, appearing naked or nearly naked wherever she could, and pushing her new persona as far as it could go.

But we’ve seen this act before.

Madonna perfected the shock shtick decades earlier, but she was talented enough to diversify her skills as needed. She proved a formidable live presence on tour and staged an ambitious, if mediocre, film career. The latter essentially ended with the 2002 dud Swept Away. Unbowed, she went on to direct more serious fare.

Madonna even embraced her maternal side, creating kiddie books to remind us she was more than a pop temptress.

That’s a lesson Cyrus should learn … or she’ll face obscurity in the years to come. Just ask Lady Gaga. The singer’s career blazed before our eyes, a rare cocktail of talent and performance art. Lady Gaga famously donned a meat dress and made her outrageous antics her calling card.

Then her record sales started to slump. We knew her best for being outrageous, and we grew bored. That’s how pop culture works. The public adores you for only so long. Enduring stars have enough talent to engage us for far longer than a particular trend cycle.

Then Lady Gaga sang a gorgeous tribute to Julie Andrews at the 2015 Oscars telecast. Even those who never gave the singer a second thought applauded that voice, that poise. She appeared at the Oscars telecast again last month, once more proving her stage antics were just a small sample of her skill set. Her Oscar-nominated song “Til It Happens to You” gave the night its emotional exclamation point.

Could Cyrus do the same? Will she recall her pop predecessors or think she can keep poking pop culture in its eye?

The answer may determine if we’ll look back on her career with a wink or consider her part of the pop music landscape.

Christian Toto is a freelance writer and editor of HollywoodInToto.com.