Miley Cyrus’ Rise: Why ‘The Movement’ Can’t Be Stopped

Ahead of her doc's premiere tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV, Bigger Than the Sound pays respect to Miley's marvelous year.

Miley Cyrus can’t be stopped.

Say what you will about her — and, undoubtedly, you will — but you cannot deny the fact that, in just three short months, Miley has turned 2013 into her own personal playground, dominating the pop-culture landscape (and the Billboard charts) and displaying a defiant streak that makes her contemporaries look positively demure. She’s pushed the envelope and declared her independence, rankled critics and thrilled fans, and, in the process, redefined herself as an artist. It’s been a rather remarkable run, and it doesn’t appear to be ending any time soon. If anything, Miley’s just getting started.

On Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET/PT, MTV will premiere “Miley: The Movement,” a documentary that follows Cyrus from the moment she started her journey. Filming began just as she released “We Can’t Stop” to radio, and, if anything, the title of that song proved to be oddly prophetic: it rocketed to the top of the charts, spawned an eye-popping music video , and inspired the most-discussed VMA performance in years. And more importantly, it helped usher in the new era of Miley.

Since “We Can’t Stop” premiered in June, Cyrus has been nearly omnipresent, and I’m not just talking about the constant coverage (and cramp-inducing hand-wringing ) her rise has warranted. She also proved that the success of her first single was no fluke, releasing the somber “Wrecking Ball” in August, then watched as it shot to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 within a month. The accompanying music video — directed by Terry Richardson — certainly pushed buttons, though it also showed off her artistic side …and served notice Miley wasn’t just about being outrageous. She also has something to say.

Whether folks are willing to listen is another matter entirely. Certainly, “The Movement” provides her side of the story, though there are some who just can’t get past her daring fashions and defiant public personae. Though you get the feeling Miley isn’t all that concerned with appeasing her critics: like she says in the doc, she doesn’t “pay attention to the negative.” Like it or not, that attitude has certainly served her well so far.

And that’s the thing. Love her or hate her, there’s no escaping the fact that Miley’s clicking on all cylinders, making all the right calls. Whether she intended to or not (she probably did), she’s become the poster-child for a generation, the kids who grew up unaware of genres or cultural limitations, who reshape media to their exacting specifications. If you’re mystified — or offended — by her tactics, it’s probably because they’re not meant for you. Like she sings, it’s our party, we can do what we want.

From the very early days of her reinvention — like, back when she was twerking in unicorn onesies — Cyrus made it clear that she was in control of her career, that she’s the one behind the wheel. And she’s not showing any signs of letting anyone else drive. She’s leapt out of airplanes (and gotten a foot tattoo) for Rolling Stone magazine , desecrated Michael Jordan jerseys in the name of fashion, wagged her tongue and willed “twerking” into the national lexicon … and all this before Bangerz has even been released.

Which is why I say Miley can’t be stopped. She’s accomplished all this without even dropping an album. Imagine what she’ll do next … or don’t. Either way, she’ll keep right on rising. Talk all you want, but give respect where it’s due: Miley has outshone pretty much everyone in 2013, and she’s done it on her own terms. At this point, you can get out of the way, or get on board. “The Movement” rolls on.

After you watch “Miley: The Movement” tonight, record your reaction on Instagram with #MileyTheMovement and you could see yourself on MTV!