If you haven’t heard about Miley Cyrus’ new song Malibu, you’re probably living under a rock. Long gone is the edginess that surrounded her last release (Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz)— instead, it’s replaced by aesthetically pleasing shots of beaches and a return to her roots (quite literally, actually). The song and the video accompanying it feels like a whimsical evolution, that she’s past her edgy, acting-out stage and is all grown up. The song itself is a perfect pre-summer bop.
However, as much of a pretty tune as it is, it doesn’t excuse all the problematic things she’s done. Yes, you can now be a fan of Miley and her new song, but you can’t dismiss or support how she named one of her tours “G*psy Heart Tour”. You can’t excuse how she went to Germany and asked to be shown the “tr**** bars”. You can’t forget all about her sugar skull, dreamcatcher, Om, and Nazar tattoos. Or how she took twerking, which had deep historical and cultural roots, and made it into a sexual new dance move. There are so many more problematic things she’s done— such as using little people as props and wearing bindis on multiple occasions— and though her new song is great on your Spotify playlist, what she’s done is wrong.
This brings up a question that’s been popping up more and more— when is it okay to be a fan of someone problematic? In this case, it’s okay to listen to this song when it comes on the radio. It’s okay to like it. But to stan Miley and not mention her cultural appropriation? To defend her or support her or show proof of some half-assed apology from her? That’s inexcusable. Songs are good. Music is good. Dismissing someone’s racism and transphobia and so much more is very, very bad.
Boycotting Miley Cyrus is not the answer. If it was, Kylie Jenner and so many more celebrities would have been shunned into oblivion already. You can enjoy her music, but not who she is as a person. Many people are saying that Malibu is signifying her turning over a new leaf, her reinventing herself— but a better way to kickstart this change would be apologizing for all that she’s done.