One can imagine a pop star of her fame, what with obnoxious paparazzi having followed her around since her early teens; people hunting for naked or private pictures constantly; with expectations of everyone to be one thing or the other in order to satisfy an image that they choose, rather than the freedom to be the person she is; and the pressures of 12 years (she’s only 24!) of constant celebrity, work, and criticism that would cause many, especially a child or near child in her late teens and early twenties, to wither emotionally—oh and yes, the pressure of adulation, too, and the problem of inner self-doubt about being deserving of it, something that has driven more than one famous person to therapy or worse. This is followed by an admission of being frightened about what I take to be feelings or things about herself that she didn’t fully understand, emotions and worries that required her to run away and distance herself rather than risking failure. This, I suspect, entails some acting out in both life and on stage … not at all unexpected of most young people, sans the stage. She did it in both places. But in real life, from everything I've read from people who know her personally, never to excess or out of control, despite the reputation fueled by her stage antics and a lot of sanctimonious and often hypocritical moralizing by others.
What really created the controversy was her having said in her colorful way (no more riding cocks and such) that she was leaving behind misogyny, its attendant objectification of women, and bigotry, all of which are clearly found in aspects of hip-hop (and other, more traditionally white forms, too), and that she's doing so out of a sense of responsibility to others, along with a change in her own outlook and personal life. This was mistaken and twisted as a complete put down of hip-hip. It never was. And to suggest otherwise is tantamount to saying all of hip-hop is defined by these things, which it is not (despite what the great jazz artist Wynton Marsalis suggests). Miley said she was leaving those distasteful and now irrelevant (to her) elements behind, not discounting all of hip-hop, parts of which she continues to admire; indeed, it subtly informs Malibu, along with other influences.
I must add, this song was written in car (she wasn't driving, thankfully, she used an Uber driver) on the way to her gig as a coach on The Voice. If I spent ten years on it, I could not come up with such a pretty piece.
Do I think Miley has conducted herself perfectly. Of course not. She is a normal person, aside from her artistic gifts--a normal girl and young woman, except she grew up before everyone with a kind of pressure that most of us will not experience. She made some mistakes, of course. But she knows that, and her critics are intent on characterizing her by them. They were minor. The fact is, Miley Ray Cyrus, while not perfect, is about as decent a person as one will find. Her generosity towards others speaks for itself.
Link to my artistic analysis and bio of Miley.
Rejoinder to criticism of Miley.
Miley's Happy Hippie Foundation