Dear old Dad. To hear retailers tell the story, he’s a transparent creature, someone who is pleased by the simple things: a shirt, a book, a steak, a new gadget. But the dads most of us grew up with — and without — are a more inscrutable lot. They’re people, after all, whose past lives, present concerns, and future legacies can vex, perplex, and frustrate their children. Can we ever really know these men? Some of the best writing about dads embraces that mystery, confronting the hard questions of what it truly means to know one’s father.
Beyond music, Cyrus is expanding her interests. After her breakup, she tells me, she asked Diane Martel, the director responsible for Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” videos, to “just completely, like, drown me in new movies and books and art. I lived in Nashville, where that shit isn’t accessible.” We flip through a book of photographs by Cindy Sherman. “Check it,” she says as we arrive at Sherman’s Untitled #276, in which the artist poses as a kind of grungy Cinderella. “Lady Gaga completely ripped that off.” Cyrus is finding her taste in movies, too. She tells me she just watched the Tom Cruise 1990 drama Days of Thunder three nights in a row. She’s also newly enamored with the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire. “I’m Blanche to a T, complete psycho,” she burbles cheerfully. I stare at her. I literally cannot imagine anyone less like Tennessee Williams’s fragile, lost Blanche DuBois. “Every time I watched her,” she goes on, “I was always like, ‘That’s me!’ ” If Cyrus is a Vivien Leigh performance, it’s Scarlett O’Hara in the early scenes of Gone With the Wind. She’s impetuous, beautiful, smarter than many give her credit for, slow to listen, quick to talk, adept at using her sexuality to her own ends. As for the world beyond the arts, Cyrus is leery.
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