Miley Cyrus has cut her hair: who cares? Apparently, a lot of people and that’s just sad. Not so very long ago pop culture needed more than just a few sheered locks to set the world on fire. Then came Justin Bieber and the media’s ravenous and very silly need to endlessly debate and mull over his effeminate mop. Bieber eventually grew out of this fascination. Good for him. And his celebrity trumps Cyrus any day of the week, perhaps one reason why Billy Ray’s once mega prosperous offspring has decided to lop off and bleach her flowing tresses, then endlessly tweet about how liberating the experience has been.
But at 20 Miley’s a bit long in the tooth to pull a Britney Spears, even if Spears was 25 when she decided to shave her own head. Shooting fans the peace sign and desperately attempting to look all ‘gangsta’ for the camera, Cyrus’s platinum pixie looks more like someone’s made a bad plate of coleslaw out of her head. Perhaps that’s a cruel assessment of stylist Chris McMillian’s prowess with the scissors, but it just seems to fit.
The more important question herein is why do we care? Star culture – even celebrity culture – used to be about the adulation and adoration of people worthy of such deified glorification; people the rest of us looked up to and admired mostly for their body of work, occasionally for their body, but always with a respect for who we thought they were. In Hollywood’s golden age (1930-59) star culture had an ethereal quality. It sparkled and shimmered like a phantom in the mist or a mirage unattainable for the rest of us.
We relished our stars as creatures from another world and cherished their eight by ten glossies plastered on our bedroom walls. They represented a sort of perfection, fictionalized all out of proportion by the machinery of studio sanctioned P.R. When the studio system imploded in the late 1950s stars lost the most valiant protectors of their public image. They became fodder to be scrutinized by the burgeoning tabloid subculture. Today, tabloid journalism not only sells, it has infected virtually every facet of mainstream media coverage.
Yesterday’s stars are mostly gone or dying out with increasing regularity. None of the newcomers bringing up the rear can hold a candle to their classy immortality. That mythical world stars once inhabited is long since dead. And the reality of being a celebrity these days is about as unglamorous as one might expect.
Today’s celebs are known primarily not for the work they contribute to our collective cultural mindset but for the company they keep and the affairs they continue to have. That’s a shame, because in that transition from star to celebrity we have lost all of the wonderment and fantasy once associated with Hollywood’s royalty. Today’s celebs are just common people with a bank account richer than our own and they readily prove just how inadequately prepared they are for the media blitz that engulfs and turns their private lives into our keyhole leering freak show.
Just to be clear: a haircut is not, and hopefully will never become, a pivotal moment in human history. It certainly doesn’t rank among the life altering changes that can and will occur. It does not justify the frenzied critiques and criticisms that have inundated Twitter accounts, blogs and legitimate media websites. It doesn’t rank as world news – although virtually all of the major television networks have already picked up the story.
What’s next? The latest nose and navel rings competing for air time on 11 o’clock news? Give it a rest. Miley’s hair will grow. The fad will fade – hopefully by tomorrow. And in fifty years no one will remember either it or her. Such is the fate of today’s celeb – all hype, but virtually no staying power.
@Nick Zegarac 2012