Why I feel sorry for Miley Cyrus
I feel as if I should be angry with Miley Cyrus, but actually, I just feel sort of sad and sorry for her.
The 26-year-old singer has caused widespread outrage in the past 24 hours because in a live Instagram video with her new boyfriend Cody Simpson she suggested being gay was a choice.
"I just always thought I had to be gay because all guys are evil, but it's not true," she said. "Don't give up. You don't have to be gay, there are good people with dicks out there - you've just got to find them."
"I've only met one, and he's on this live [stream]," she said, referring to Simpson.
The clip was the latest in a string of pointed social media posts Cyrus has made since her split from Liam Hemsworth back in August, all apparently designed to flaunt how amazingly happy she now is, post-marriage.
As is to be expected, entire sections of the internet are melting down in protest over her video, pointing out that her comments reinforce a bunch of offensive ideas about people who are attracted to their same sex: including that they choose their attraction consciously, and that lesbians are, at heart, man-haters.
Within hours of sharing the video, Cyrus was forced to backtrack her comments in another post, saying: "I was talking s*** about sucky guys, but let me be clear, YOU don't CHOOSE your sexuality. You are born as you are. It has always been my priority to protect the LGBTQ community I am a part of."
The furore is the latest lowpoint in what could best be described as a tumultuous year for the former child star.
Last November the Malibu house she shared with Hemsworth was destroyed in wildfires. By December, they were married.
In a February interview with Vanity Fair, Cyrus was boasting that the couple were "redefining … what it looks like for someone that's a queer person like myself to be in a hetero relationship." But come August, all of it - the husband, the redefining of traditional marriage - was kaput.
Within days of the break-up being made public, Cyrus was posting gratuitous PDAs with reality star Kaitlynn Carter on social media. And just as quickly, Carter was gone and new beau Simpson was on the scene.
On social media, Cyrus has been presenting a brash and somewhat vulgar exterior - her hands were down Simpson's trousers in a typically unsubtle post - but something about it has been disturbing to watch.
To be clear, I'm not slut-shaming here. It's something else with Cyrus. There's something off; like she doesn't appear to be aware of how damaged she may seem. Like what she thinks looks sexy actually might look like a young woman acting out of a feeling of hurt.
Interestingly, the singer herself has in the past put the bravado aside and been surprisingly candid about her vulnerabilities.
In that Vanity Fair profile, she confided how much she had been affected by the loss of her home, saying it had changed her more than her marriage, and suggesting that it may have actually prompted the pair to tie the knot.
In the same interview, Cyrus said of her relationship with Hemsworth: "I feel less misplaced when we are in the same room, no matter where that is."
These are not the words of the mouthy star she so often presents as, but somebody markedly more fragile.
Cyrus's behaviour has been cause for concern before. Just after she appeared naked in the video for her worldwide hit Wrecking Ball in 2013, singer Sinead O'Connor penned an open letter to the then 20-year-old, warning her of the dangers of being "pimped" by the music business.
"(It is not) in any way 'cool' to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos," the Nothing Compares 2U singer stated, adding that it would lead to the obscuring of her talent.
In the lengthy letter, O'Connor suggested that the singer was not caring for herself.
"That has to change," O'Connor wrote. "You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you."
But by the time O'Connor wrote her letter, Cyrus was already a veteran of the music industry, and had already been heavily sexualised.
At the age of 15, she was photographed by Annie Leibowitz for Vanity Fair, topless and draped in a sheet. The image caused outrage for the way it sexualised a girl who was still under the age of consent. Leibowitz batted away concerns by saying she was "sorry" her "very beautiful" shot had been "misinterpreted".
More than 10 years on, that image of a young Cyrus - baby-faced and tattoo-free, but with "sexy" wet hair - appears even more troubling, as if it presages the hypersexualisation that is to come.
If Cyrus's recent behaviour - the lightning quick romances, the exhibitionism, the nasty digs at Hemsworth - is just the product of a young woman finding her feet again after the failure of a marriage, I hope she settles quickly.
But plenty of times before we've watched celebrities unravelling in the public eye. Look at Charlie Sheen, or Britney Spears.
It is deeply disturbing to watch.
That is why I feel sorry for Miley Cyrus.
David Mills is a columnist for RendezView.com.au