Decadent Miley, Boring Cyrus

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Miley Cyrus' Can't Be Tamed Album Cover Arsenio Orteza, World magazine’s music critic, reviewed Miley Cyrus’ latest album, Can’t Be Tamed, in the July 17, 2010 issue of World. The album’s cover shows Cyrus dressed like she’s trying to imitate Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson when they were teens a decade ago. In other words, provocatively.

Orteza begins his review, “Sometimes we conservatives inadvertently generate free publicity for what we oppose by criticizing as morally abhorrent something that’s really an aesthetic failure needing to be put out of its misery on artistic grounds (Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ, most TV shows not on Fox News and a few that are).”

Later in the review he wrote:

[P]op artists and their artifacts can be can be decadent and boring at the same time. And when they are, the boring part is the bigger problem. It indicates that decadence has become so commonplace we take it for granted. It also means that the artist’s artifacts aren’t very good.

If an artist is talented, American culture is usually willing to overlook that artist’s notorious behavior. But increasingly pop culture is becoming enamored with artists who behave badly but whose talent is arguable if not nonexistent. In that case, is it the bad behavior instead of the talent (what there is of it) that we’re praising?

Is truly good art lessened when the artist makes a fool of herself? Can the artifact be admired separate from the artist?

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