Remember when, not so long ago, Miley Cyrus was pop culture's Public Enemy No. 1? How she was widely ridiculed and condemned for her MTV Video Music Awards tw-tw-tw... geez, I can't even bring myself to say it, but you know what I'm talking about -- that "dance" thing she did with the unsuspecting foam finger (which has since reportedly filed a restraining order) and the crotch of the son of the dad from "Growing Pains." And how she took that naked ride on that wrecking ball (211 million views and counting on Vevo/YouTube), and how she couldn't stop licking everything, and and and...
Yeah, I can barely remember any of that either. Or rather, I've started to think of all of her seeming acting out -- "I look at Miley Cyrus and I see a meltdown waiting to happen," is how Elton John put it -- as a rather strategic form of culture-jacking. And all of the collective outrage as everyone just behaving exactly according to plan.
I agree with this assessment, on Twitter, from Bradley Kay, president of creative agency SS+K:
Her delightfully self-deprecating turn as guest host of last weekend's "Saturday Night Live" was really great -- but even more impressive were her two vocal performances (she doubled as the show's musical guest). Watch them here ("Wrecking Ball") and here ("We Can't Stop") -- or watch the whole "SNL" episode here.
I also agree with my colleague David Teicher, who wrote on an internal Ad Age discussion board on Tuesday:
Can we give Miley some sort of acknowledgement? She's clearly a marketing genius and has this country talking about her nonstop. VMAs, SNL, MTV documentary (in which she visits the Twitter HQ), Good Morning America…
Add to that list this "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" video -- featuring Miley, Jimmy and The Roots performing an a capella version of "We Can't Stop" -- from Monday night's show. In it, she once again shows off her powerful voice -- this time in a totally charming context:
Getting sweetly embraced by the nicest host and best band in late-night TV is a great, smart step in Miley's continuing… well, I'd call it a "redemption tour," except that I really don't think Miley Cyrus is seeking redemption. Or approval, for that matter, from Elton John or Sinead O'Connor or you or me. Which I like about her.
So what does the Miley Cyrus "brand," so to speak, stand for right now? Ridiculousness, outrageousness, unpredictability, a healthy sense of humor, and -- this is the weird, unexpected part -- honest-to-god talent.
Simon Dumenco is the "Media Guy" media columnist for Advertising Age. Follow him on Twitter @simondumenco.