Miley Cyrus has been called a great many things since she twerked into the public eye after last year’s MTV Video Music Awards, but I’m pretty sure “a great case study” hasn’t been one of them — until now.
The pop star will be the subject of a sociology class at Skidmore College this summer and, according to Professor Carolyn Chernoff, her life and celebrity will serve as the perfect lens through which to examine race, class, gender and media.
Although the syllabus for the class has yet to solidified, Chernoff told MTV News that the class will likely focus on Cyrus’ genesis from Disney star to “Miley,” as well as the effect her father’s fame has had on her maturation.
“We’ll also talk about what it means to be an appropriate female media figure, including an appropriate rebel female media figure,” she said. “What it means to be an appropriate bad girl. … Is raunch culture feminist? Does being a feminist mean doing the ’70s feminism [thing] of not using your body or your sexuality?”
That discussion will naturally include the conflicting open letters penned to Cyrus by the likes of Amanda Palmer and Sinead O’Connor, a subject that Chernoff plans to explore in her own academic paper on the subject.
“I think these are lenses into larger, unanswerable questions about pop culture representations of race, class, gender and bodies,” she said. “Students will be able to come up with their own arguments about larger uses of pop culture and what we learn from celebrities. Celebrities and pop culture reveal ongoing social problems as much as they create and transform those same problems.”
Chernoff was first inspired to teach a class on Cyrus after seeing her students’ reaction to the singer’s controversial VMA performance, which sparked much chatter (and myriad think-pieces) across the Web about her overt sexuality.
Although the topics discussed in the class are quite serious and thought-provoking, it is a class on Miley, after all, so it won’t all be books and essays.
“There may be Miley karaoke,” Chernoff said.
So start brushing up on your favorite banger now, kids.