Miley Cyrus a role model? Twerk the other one
As far as visual metaphors go, a mascara-running, blinged-up, tattooed and naked Miley Cyrus licking her own shoulder on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine speaks volumes about her self-image at the moment. One thing it doesn't say though is "good role model".
Cyrus feels differently however, having told the magazine that at the ripe old age of 20 she is providing a sage voice of wisdom to 19-year-old Justin Bieber on how to "transition" successfully. Don't worry about their common age though, Cyrus explains that "I think boys are, like, seven years behind. So in his head, he's really, like, 12."
The "transition" appears to be the music world's version of "the change", referencing the step from tween star to adult star, though based on the magazine cover and other images Cyrus has shared this week, she is dangerously close to transitioning to adult film star.
One such image is of Cyrus twerking with a capuchin monkey. It's the same breed of monkey Bieber was forced to leave at German customs and in many ways it has become a symbolic mascot for Bieber's journey off-the-rails. If this is mentoring, it seems Cyrus has taken a monkey-owner see, monkey-owner do approach to Bieber. (There are also no details yet as to whether Cyrus' furry friend was supplied by Rihanna's Thai monkey guy.)
The one-time saccharine Disney darling and Hannah Montana star has spoken to Rolling Stone about her mentoring role and her twerking performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, while getting a tattoo. But then Cyrus is not doing anything quietly or reservedly at the moment. And if success is measured by column inches and Google hits then she's on top of the world.
Cyrus, who recently split from Australian actor Liam Hemsworth, made headlines on the weekend when she started to cry while performing Wrecking Ball on stage in Las Vegas for the iHeartRadio Music Festival, according to celebrity and entertainment website x17online.com.
A UK tabloid has since claimed she had "all but confirmed" a new relationship with Mike 'Will Made It' Williams, the producer behind her hit track We Can't Stop.
But if Cyrus' social media photos are proof of a relationship, then the series of images posted on Twitter showing her in various states of undress, with her monkey friend dressed as a cowboy, and also straddling a furry, red beaked, Elmo-wannabe, then she's on a strange rebound.
And of course there's the raunchy Rolling Stone cover image.
For her first cover story for the magazine, Cyrus rejected the prospect of laser tag, opting instead to "get some new ink" on her feet. The interview, and tattoo, occurred four days after her now infamous performance with Robin Thicke at the VMAs.
Taking digs at Taylor Swift and Brooke Shields, Cyrus not only defends her "handsy" performance but suggests it could have gone further.
"Honestly, that was our MTV version," she tells the magazine. "We could have even gone further, but we didn't. I thought that's what the VMAs were all about! It's not the Grammys or the Oscars. You're not supposed to show up in a gown, Vanna White-style. It's supposed to be fun!
"No one is talking about the man behind the ass. It was a lot of 'Miley twerks on Robin Thicke,' but never, 'Robin Thicke grinds up on Miley.' They're only talking about the one that bent over. So obviously there's a double standard."
She also took exception to ludicrous accusations that her performance was somehow racist, as her moves were a style common in African-American culture.
"I'm from one of the wealthiest counties in America," she says. "I know what I am. But I also know what I like to listen to. Look at any 20-year-old white girl right now - that's what they're listening to at the club. It's 2013. The gays are getting married, we're all collaborating. I would never think about the color of my dancers, like, 'Ooh, that might be controversial.
"...America is just so weird in what they think is right and wrong."
In between discussing her performance she admits that Kanye West has become something of a mentor for her after they collaborated on his track Black Skinhead, while she in turn is helping Bieber transition as a musician.
"I'm not much older than him, so I never want it to feel like I'm mentoring him," she said. "But I do mentor him in a way. Because I've been doing this s--t for a long time, and I already transitioned, and I don't think he's quite done it yet.
"People don't take him seriously, but he really can play the drums, he really can play guitar, he really can sing. I just don't want to see him f--- that up, to where people think he's Vanilla Ice. I tell him that. Like, 'You don't want to become a joke'."
Somewhat ironically then, Cyrus explains that her twerking at the VMAs was just that. A joke.
"I wasn't trying to be sexy," she says. "If I was trying to be sexy, I could have been sexy. I can dance a lot better than I was dancing.
"People are like, 'Miley thinks she's a black girl, but she's got the flattest ass ever,' I'm like, I'm 108 pounds! I know! Now people expect me to come out and twerk with my tongue out all the time. I'll probably never do that s--t again."
Her tweeting since the magazine was released would seem to contradict that promise, but when your twerkee is a monkey with a cowboy hat, at least the humorous intent is more clear.
Next up on the Cyrus press cycle is an MTV documentary Miley: The Movement, which will air on October 4; the trailer for which includes the rationale behind the twerking teddy bear dance. "You're always going to make people talk. You might as well make them talk for two weeks rather than two seconds."
Miley Cyrus' two weeks aren't quite up yet. She'll be monkeying around for a while yet.