Caitlin McBride: 'Miley Cyrus might be the last interesting celebrity left'
Miley Cyrus might just be the last entertaining celebrity left.
Her split with Liam Hemsworth shouldn’t come as a surprise to many - they set the bar for on/off couples over the last 10 years - but since their surprise wedding last year, they exhibited a sense of stability and became poster children for non-traditional millennial marriages.
By the time she met Liam when she was 16, she had finally freed herself from the shackles of strict Disney contracts shaping most of her childhood, which included morality clauses and the strict rules about her appearance. She appeared to become a rare Hollywood success story of life after child stardom and is still considered relatively well-adjusted given the extraordinary circumstances in which she grew up.
Miley’s transition into the most entertaining star of her generation has been a long time coming and her post-child stardom, post-Hemsworth split transformation was more of an existential awakening than your standard act of rebellion.
For the first time in her life, she was calling the shots and having worked in the industry since childhood, knew how to play the game at expert levels.
But it was how she handled the immense interest that became most fascinating. After her eventual (and second) split with Liam in 2012, she embraced the continued interest in her professional and personal life; wearing as little clothes as possible with as much confidence as Madonna. It was impossible to resist.
And like the pop queens before her, she mastered the evolution in a way so few succeed in.
She went beyond the standard haircut-after-breakup and underwent a full image overhaul. Her now now-infamous VMA performance with Robin Thicke in 2013 sent pearl clutching parents into a frenzy and even Cher weighed in, saying she was appalled at the colour of her tongue. (In 2017, she said she felt sexualised and pressure to act in a certain way after that career-defining turn).
She was the ‘good girl gone bad’ putting on a show for the theatrics of it all and took advantage of her heightened profile to pursue causes close to her heart, including animal welfare and LGBTQ charities in a genuine way.
She began exploring her sexuality publicly and embarked on a number of high profile relationships with Patrick Schwartzenegger and Jared Leto, and most notably, her 2015 romance with Victoria’s Secret Angel Stella Maxwell.
They were pictured kissing, cuddling and doing all the activities people in relationships do, but neither commented formally (and Stella has never publicly labelled her sexuality) before Miley revealed she’s pansexual and identifies as gender neutral in an interview a few months later.
“I think when I figured out what it was. I went to the LGBTQ centre here in L.A., and I started hearing these stories. I saw one human in particular who didn’t identify as male or female. Looking at them, they were both: beautiful and sexy and tough but vulnerable and feminine but masculine,” she told Variety.
“And I related to that person more than I related to anyone in my life. Even though I may seem very different, people may not see me as neutral as I feel. But I feel very neutral.
“I think that was the first gender-neutral person I’d ever met. Once I understood my gender more, which was unassigned, then I understood my sexuality more. I was like, “Oh — that’s why I don’t feel straight and I don’t feel gay. It’s because I’m not.”
By 2016, she reunited with Hemsworth and their engagement was back on.
The Hunger Games star said they needed the time apart and appreciated one another more after their split and subsequent reconciliation.
"Of course it was hard, man. But at the time we were going in different directions, and it's just what needed to happen," he told GQ Australia. "We were both super young, and it was a good decision at the time - we both needed that."
Both said they felt a long-lasting connection, thanks in no small part that they both understood the complexities of global fame. Fast forward another two years and the press-shy couple committed in an intimate wedding in the living room of their Nashville, Tennessee home in a union that would last just seven months.
In her most recent interview detailing her marriage, she explained that her relationship was “unique”.
"I think it's very confusing to people that I'm married," Cyrus told Elle last month. "But my relationship is unique. And I don't know that I would ever publicly allow people in there because it's so complex, and modern, and new that I don't think we're in a place where people would get it."
“I made a partner decision. This is the person I feel has my back the most. I definitely don't fit into a stereotypical wife role. I don't even like that word."
While Miley seemed content with her “modern” marriage, the consensus has been that Hemsworth wanted something more traditional and thus, they were doomed from the start. Both have also adopted contrasting narratives to life post-breakup, with Miley sharing details of her Lake Como trip with Kaitlynn Carter - whom she was also pictured kissing - while Liam has been pictured looking solemn and forlorn in paparazzi pictures in Sydney, Australia.
He has been staying with his brother Chris and his family while he plans his next move, but he’s been shrewd enough to play the part of scorned partner to perfection.
Miley, on the other hand, has been unashamedly herself and continuing business as usual. She hasn’t dignified the myriad pieces condemning her sexuality as reason for her marriage breakdown, speculating that her attraction to women - which her husband knew about - was somehow the catalyst behind a split.
The narrative around their break-up has been an interesting one to observe as Gen-Z led publications strive to report it respectfully, while more conservative publications were quick to blame her attraction to women; all the while neither were elaborating on their decision.
Meanwhile, Brody Jenner, a D-list reality star to whom Kaitlynn recently split from, spotted an opportunity for free publicity and threw his oar in commenting on Instagram, “Watch out! Pics of Liam and I holding hands on the beach coming soon.”
Miley responded: “Go take a nap in your truck and cool off. #HotGirlSummer.”
It’s a reference to a scene in The Hills: New Beginnings reboot in which he slept in his car after a fight with estranged wife Kaitlynn (as it turns out, they weren’t legally married anyway).
The fact that Miley Cyrus, bonafide A-list celebrity, is getting in the digital dirt with Brody Jenner, a man whose career peaked in 2010, is a joy to observe. The fact that she has engaged with such DGAF conviction is downright charming.
And there’s every chance that she and Liam will reconcile once again, keeping the public on this rollercoaster narrative for years to come. And I don’t hate the idea.