Opinion: Miley Cyrus is changing her image yet again, and it’s for the better

Maggie Wachtel is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Maggie Wachtel

Last year’s Video Music Awards was essentially the Miley Cyrus show. She sang her hit song “We Can’t Stop,” while wearing nude colored spandex under a teddy bear leotard. She then sang a duet of “Blurred Lines” with Robin Thicke then finished off the performance by dancing with him while holding a foam finger.

Cyrus immediately became the topic of conversations everywhere, and that is exactly what she wanted to happen. Her stunt at the 2013 VMA’s was calculated and intended; she knew exactly what she was doing.

All her decisions leading up to the VMAs had been aimed at shedding her Hannah Montana image and re-branding herself in the music world. Miley Cyrus got exactly what she wanted out of the 2013 VMAs; she got people to talk about her in a different light.

It wasn’t a coincidence that her single “Wrecking Ball,” dropped the same day as her VMA performance and quickly became a smash hit. According to Vevo, her music videos for “We Can’t Stop” and “Wrecking Ball” were the site’s most popular videos of 2013.

But the 2014 VMAs was a different story. Cyrus was nominated for two awards, but she didn’t perform and was not as outspoken as she had been the year before. “Wrecking Ball,” won for video of the year, but instead of walking up to accept her award, she sent up a guy by the name of Jesse Helt. Jesse then shocked everyone by giving a speech not about “Wrecking Ball,” but about the issue of homeless youth in central Los Angeles and America. 

According to USA Today, Cyrus met Helt at a homeless shelter known as My Friend’s Place. The shelter differs from others by encouraging youth to make their lives more self-sufficient. Helt went up on the stage and announced he was accepting Cyrus’ award on “behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States who are starving, lost and scared for their lives right now.” He ended his speech by encouraging people to go to Cyrus’ Facebook page, where she had since posted a video about My Friend’s Place and youth homelessness. 

You could argue that Cyrus’ actions at the 2014 VMA’s were calculated and aimed at “fixing” her image, but regardless of whether or not her move was calculated by her skilled PR team, she brought light to a serious issue in America.

Many people have a preconceived notion about the issue of youth homelessness. Most are runaways and people assume they have the option of going home, not considering that their home life may be why they ran away in the first place. The truth is, funding to help the homeless and prevent homelessness is very low.

What Miley is doing is admirable. She could have chosen a better funded, or well-known cause to promote, but she didn’t. This move may have been planned by her PR team and not by Miley herself, but what she is doing is only going to help the issue of youth homelessness, and for that I applaud her.