By COLEMAN HOPKINS
Miley Cyrus, or the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana, is on a tear as of late, posting numerous number one singles, while at the same time transforming her image and musical style. The musical world is not alone in its fascination of her; Skidmore College, a small liberal arts school in Saratoga Springs, began offering classes about Cyrus and how race, art and gender are viewed from her lens.
During her initial metamorphosis, she stirred controversy with open marijuana usage, outlandish music videos, non-traditional song topics and a penchant for using gratuitous, over-sexualization of her tongue. She has received bad publicity from those that did not appreciate her art in both the music industry and on social media.
However, Cyrus simultaneously found time to support various causes and charities with her celebrity, such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Jed Foundation. Her obvious commitment to helping as many people as possible earned her undeniable respect, in turn causing many critics to admit that she is certainly a tier above many of her peers that are not nearly as selfless. Moreover, Cyrus’s charitable activities span the better part of the current decade, as she performed at various shows for charities as early as 2008, well before she was intent on transforming her image.
In her most recent highly publicized act, she used the Video Music Awards (VMAs) as a forum to raise awareness for another public issue: youth homelessness.
Rather than accepting the award of Video of the Year for “Wrecking Ball,” she instead had her date, a 22-year-old homeless man named Jesse Helt, accept the award. Helt used this unique oppertunity to speak on the realities of homelessness, specifically the problems that America’s youth face on their own. Helt spoke broadly, discussing problems all across the country, though he also specifically noted that problems in Los Angeles needed to be addressed and should be addressed by other prominent musicians. As a young man and an aspiring model, Helt was the perfect example of the problem of youth homelessness.
Following the speech, social media exploded, and detractors immediately claimed it was a publicity stunt, while fans cheered on their idol for her selfless charity and promotion of good causes. To the chagrin of critics, it was revealed that Cyrus met Helt at My Friend’s Place, an organization devoted to helping homeless young people find permanent shelters. Additionally, it should be pointed out that, while the media was enamored with the story, it also succeeded in doing what Cyrus set out to do: raise nationwide awareness for youth homelessness.
Whether or not you agree with her means, it is hard to argue with Cyrus’s ends. It is undeniable that the issue of youth homelessness has never been more front and center than it is now. Specifically, Cyrus also encourages other musicians and celebrities to reach out and to learn about how they too can help combat homelessness in Los Angeles.
Regardless of what you think about Cyrus’s music, hair, lifestyle or tongue, it is tricky to argue that she does not have a good heart. Cyrus proved that image is no barrier for helping others or for fighting for causes that you believe in.