“Maybe Miley is just having a naked year.”
–Unknown Internet commentator

A girl stands in her tub in a Polaroid
tattoos glistening between the grooves of her forearms
hair up in a turban
a beard of bubbles dripping from her chin.

What you see depends on who you are.

(Would it be different if the bubbles were sexier?
If her smile was a smirk?
If the picture were taken in 1974?)

A girl Autotunes her voice to sing about
Ecstasy and Solo cups
dancing pressed up against each other in the rec room,
hot and sweaty in the South Florida night.

What you hear depends on what you’ve done.

(Would it be different if she sang about red wine and patios?
If she never mentioned “everyone in line for the bathroom”?
Like crowds, and lines, and bathrooms did not exist?)

A girl sells an album of layered, Southern, club-focused pop
after years of working for Disney
selling ad space
and concert tickets
and hair extensions
and sticker packs
and trapper keepers
and glitter glue
and simple morals
and made-for-TV movies
and plastic microphones
and eleven-and-a-half-inch fashion dolls
and clothes
and clothes
and clothes.

What you buy depends on what you’ve bought before.

(Madonna in her rubber bra? Or maybe later with her Kabbalah bracelet? The Britney Spears who shaved her head, or the Britney Spears who wore a snake? The Beatles who wanted to hold your hand, or the Beatles who wanted to do it in the road?)

Let me tell you what I see.

A girl stands up in a bathtub.
She is young and beautiful,
white and rich and famous from birth.
(Or, if you prefer, privileged and appropriative and a truly atrocious speller.)
Think what you want, you won’t be wrong–
but you will be missing the point.

She knows from being used, and from using.
Lately, she’s been doing the using more,
and you can see the gleam of victory in her eyes.
She has figured it out.
She has solved the puzzle.
She tilts her chin at you, proud.

I see a smile.


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