How Miley Cyrus Accidentally Enraged All Of Detroit With One Sentence

Illustration for article titled How Miley Cyrus Accidentally Enraged All Of Detroit With One Sentence

Detroiters, we're a tough bunch but we're also a sensitive bunch. And it's getting hard to defend you guys when someone as simple as Miley Cyrus sets us off so easily.

You'd never think that Cyrus and emergency manager Kevyn Orr would have anything in common, but they do now: They're both victims of saying something controversial about Detroit with context, but having that quote taken ridiculously out of context to support a straw-man argument.

Last month, Orr stated in a wide-ranging interview with the Wall Street Journal that the city had become "dumb, lazy, happy and rich." Though the context surrounding that quote surrounded city administrators' decades-long ignorance toward a mounting disaster, it was later the subject of blaring headlines calling Detroiters themselves dumb, fodder for now-former mayoral candidates and fuel against Gov. Rick Snyder's appointment of Orr to the office he currently holds. Don't be surprised if response ads to Snyder's porn sax-heavy re-election video contain Orr's quote somehow.


Hindsight proved to be 20/20 and Orr apologized for not being more clear in his sentiments. What Orr didn't apologize was for the sentiment itself, and he shouldn't have; it was his opinion on how things went wrong. Orr is still here, however. But so is context-free headline journalism that unnecessarily kept us debating that quote longer than we should have.

Which brings us to Ms. Destiny Hope Cyrus, the latest celebrity to say something about Detroit. Like when Christina Hendricks said something about Detroit or when Mark Wahlberg said something about Detroit or when Ryan Gosling said something about Detroit. Detroit, once the city with a nonstop assembly line of musical stars, now turns into the little town from "To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar" when someone who doesn't look like the locals passes through.

Cyrus' interview with Rolling Stone was remarkable if you took the time to read it. The overall piece dances around tidbits from her childhood and before she was even born that sort-of explains why she might be acting out. Or, if you're at all familiar with the dynamics of a modern female pop star, you'd know Cyrus is unabashedly playing from Madonna's handbook. But there's one paragraph that set off Google Alerts for entertainment reporters statewide:

Miley's transformation from America's sweetheart into whatever the hell she is now kicked into high gear three years ago, when she went to Detroit to shoot a movie called LOL. "Detroit's where I felt like I really grew up," she says. "It was only for a summer, but that's where I started going to clubs, where I got my first tattoo. Well, not my first tattoo, but my first without my mom's consent. I got it on 8 Mile! I lied to the guy and told him I was 18. I got a heart on my finger and wore a Band-Aid for two months so my mom wouldn't find out." She also bonded with her co-star, Demi Moore, whose rocky relationship with Ashton Kutcher was becoming a major tabloid story. "That was dope, because I think we needed each other at that point," Miley says. "We both needed to get out of L.A."


So, here's what I gathered has happened: Miley Cyrus, age 17, surrounded by Disney wonks and nouveau Nashville wealth her entire life, was enduring a teenage coming-of-age right here in Detroit. (I actually remember Moore being in awe of the donks rolling around Seven Mile.) It just so happens that part of her transition to young womanhood occurred here, because at the time, there were lots of movies being made here. (Other Michigan productions in 2010, thanks to film tax credits: "Scream 4," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," that one movie where 50 Cent lost a ton of weight.) Had the Rolling Stone interview gone viral before Detroit media taken this and ran with it, we wouldn't be here.

But let's follow the headline-grabbers that had people all riled up:


...which led to responses like these:


...and many, many more. Now, there are plenty of things to be mad at her for. But this? No. Why? Why are we here again? Because, to make it clear, Cyrus did not say she grew up in Detroit. OK, she said with her own mouth (it's her mouth, she can say what she wants to) that she "grew up," but do you really think she meant that she was raised here?


Let's revisit this one more time.

What Miley Cyrus actually said:

"Detroit's where I felt like I really grew up."

What people in Detroit thought Miley Cyrus said:

"I grew up in Detroit."

Some things Miley Cyrus did not say that otherwise would have been clear that she grew up in Detroit or spent more than a month here:

"I graduated from CMA in '08."
"Yeah, but I think Lockhart's in Royal Oak is better."
"...and that's why I don't fuck with the eastside."
"We used to go to Oak Grove but then we started going to Greater Grace."
"$65 for $100?"
"Well, when Engler was governor..."
"It's 70 today but it's supposed to be 45 tomorrow."


Again, what Miley Cyrus said:

"Detroit's where I felt like I really grew up."

But what Miley Cyrus could have said to mitigate this confusion:

"I feel like Detroit is where I started to become an adult. I did some adult things, like get a tattoo at this place on 8 Mile, and started going to clubs. Even though I was only there to film a movie, that city will always have a place in my heart."


But again, what Miley Cyrus did not say:

"I grew up in Detroit."

And what Miley Cyrus actually said (again):

"Detroit's where I felt like I really grew up."

Some people reading might think this is a defense of Miley Cyrus, but I like to think it's a defense of reading comprehension. It sucks to be Miley Cyrus, sure. But it probably sucks to be Josh Eells, who not only had to spend a few days with her but is now seeing his four-page (on the internet, at least) piece being boiled down to one paragraph in a city where people already crack on us for being so illiterate. But on top of the wrecking ball shenanigans up at GVSU, it's clear the only winner in this situation are the web teams across Michigan newsrooms.


[Photo via AP]

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Scott Lynch

TL;DR - People have terrible reading comprehension, and mass media outlets are the worst at this.