Miley Cyrus’s Creepy Return to Wholesomeness

when I spoke to her in 2014 (back then, she and Hemsworth were done, she was dating a woman, and had taken to sticking her tongue out all the time), I was struck by how earnest she seemed about everything. She pulls from a seemingly bottomless font of sincerity

.. Most everybody readily acknowledges the artifice inherent to pop music—as consumers, we know and understand, to some degree, that the whole business is and always has been an aggressively managed charade. Part of the deal is that we still feign chagrin or incredulity (or both) when a pop star announces another reinvention. These shifts aren’t so interesting for what they broadcast about the state of an individual performer’s philosophical posture—in fact, I’d argue that, in that regard, they’re largely meaningless; far more compelling is what they indicate about an artist’s commercial potential, which is inextricably tied to the public’s hunger for change, and for new and flashier iterations of the same thing

.. Pop singers seeking colossal stardom tend to operate in only one of two modes:

  1. guileless, fresh-faced ingénue;
  2. or a sex-starved, lingerie-clad vixen.

(“Regular” has yet to become an especially profitable option.)