Miley Cyrus is one of the many celebrities that is considered to be acting deviantly in society. It defines deviance as “the infraction of some agreed upon rule” (Dictionary.com). Miley has been labeled deviant throughout society since her actions have progressed and became more controversial. During the peak of her performing career, Miley had broken those rules many times, being criticized for her sexual image, her use of drugs, and cutting her hair. Miley seems to be creating her own deviant identity every time she violates the rules of the social norm.
Miley Cyrus used to be the idol for younger girls growing up as she was the famous star on the hit TV show Hannah Montana. In the show, Miley Stewart (portrayed by Miley Cyrus) is a teenager living a double life as a schoolgirl by day and as a famous recording artist Hannah Montana by night, which she keeps secret. After starring in the show, Miley Cyrus was stuck with the image of being a young pretty country singer that young girls looked up to.
With the role as Hannah Montana, and the corresponding top chart soundtracks, it helped skyrocket Miley to stardom, but it wasn’t long before we began to see the singer/actress’ desire to ditch the blonde wig and break out on her own.
Not to mention, Miley’s second album, her first album not affiliated with the TV show, which released in 2008 was literally called Breakout. As her career progressed after the show ended and the numerous hit pop songs, Miley seemed to hit a turning point in 2012.
She cut off and bleached her hair, proving to society that she was moving away from her Hannah Montana years. Her act of cutting and bleaching her hair is an example of mores, which is norms with strong moral significance.
Also, it is an example of a subculture as it is defined as a culture within a broader mainstream culture, with its own separate values, practices, and beliefs. Many subcultures live by the norms of girls having short hair or the slogan “free the nip.” Miley was trying to make a strong statement by cutting her hair almost bald and bleaching it when society sees it as a norm for girls to have long flowy hair. Furthermore, during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, Miley stripped down to her underwear and performed a sexual routine to her single, ‘We Can’t Stop,’ where Miley was seen twerking on stage in front of millions. Her actions are an example of a Taboo, which is defined as social prohibitions viewed as essential to the well-being of humanity.
After the numerous events, Miley started to receive the label of being scandalous due to her efforts to try and move as far away as she could from her image of Hannah Montana. We see this through our studies where sociologist Howard Becker introduced the labeling theory. He states that for something to be “deviant,” it must be labeled as deviant and the same act may be considered deviant in some groups but not others. Despite all the drama with her transformation, the whole new Miley was a big hit. Miley became known everywhere as the singer gained numerous followers and haters over her new image. This relates to Howard Beckers theory as Miley’s actions of acting out are considered deviant in the eyes of some but not in the eyes of others. Although her actions were labeled deviant in the eyes of many, she gained new followers that did not like the old Miley but rather the new.
With everything that escalated in Miley’s life from 2008 and on, before making a statement in society, she had met Liam Hemsworth while filming the Disney movie, The Last Song in 2009. By 2010, the two were a couple, walking together on the red carpet of an Oscars event. Not long after, Miley seemed ready as she and Liam’s engagement was revealed in 2012. Miley seemed happy at this time, posting pictures with Liam on her Instagram always smiling. However, later in 2013, Miley released her hit song “Wrecking Ball,” which she wrote because she was going through problems in her relationship with Liam.
This song later reaching #1 on US Hot 100, highlighted by the music video of Miley smashing things with a sledgehammer in her underwear and swinging on a wrecking ball naked. Not long after, Liam and Miley split apart, leading to Miley’s outburst in society. This is an example of Walter Reckless’ theory of Social Control. He stated that people are discouraged from deviance by the social ties in their community. We see this illustrated through Miley’s relationship with Liam.
After breaking up, we start to see Miley change into who we know her as today, short hair, barely dressed, and using drugs. This is an example of inner control, as she used her anger from the breakup with Liam to change her views of her morals in society. Not only that, but in an interview with father Billy Ray Cyrus, he stated that he was going to let Miley do whatever makes her happy, as he would support her no matter what. This is an example of outer control as outer control consists of everything that influences us not to deviate (i.e. parents). In the social control theory, when both controls are weak, the act of deviance is a result.
To conclude, Miley’s journey from childhood idol to her sociological outburst in later years is one to remember. After being a star only at age 11, much was to come for her as she grew up with stardom, just how we see it happen to so many celebrities. Although she moved as far away as she could from her image as a star young country singer Hannah Montana, I feel that Miley is back on the right track. With her new album that was released in 2017, grabbing the ears of society, asking the question, is this Miley we really know?