Miley Cyrus, complaining about haters? She's merely joining the club. The new cause of 20-something millennials in Hollywood appears to be putting all of their "haters" in place, whether it be Miley, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Justin Bieber or hungry reality stars looking to justify their fame.
In her new single, "We Can't Stop," Miley warns the public of passing judgment too soon. "Remember only God can judge us/ Forget the haters cause somebody loves ya," Miley sings, while gyrating in white spandex in a bathtub. On first glimpse, it's a message of empowerment in the age of online bullying -- something that Miley, the 20-year-old daughter of "Achy Breaky Heart" singer Billy Ray Cyrus, knows a thing or two about. She has endured public scrutiny since starring in Disney's "Hannah Montana" at age 11. She has also recently weathered adolescence and a rocky romantic entanglement in front of 12 million Twitter followers, many of them abusive. No wonder Miley is so defensive.WATCH: Huffpost Celeb's Original Mashup: 'Haters' In Popular Culture
But it is wrong to universally cast off all criticism as coming from "haters." These days, more celebrities use the phrase as an instant defense mechanism for their bad behavior. When Justin Bieber was booed onstage at the Billboard Music Awards recently, the 19-year-old pop star looked startled by the poor reception. After a few false starts, Bieber, clad in shades and a leather top, said: "This is not a gimmick. I'm an artist and I should be taken seriously, and all this other bullish*t should not be spoken of." Perhaps Bieber should remind himself that showing up two hours late to a sold-out London concert and abandoning his pet monkey in Germany are types of behaviors universally looked down upon, by "serious artists," non-serious non-artists, monkey owners and non-monkey owners alike.
One of the first uses of the word "haters" in recent popular culture comes from the song "Players Gon' Play," by the all-girl group 3LW. The group -- since dissolved into obscurity -- memorably coined the catch phrase "haters gonna hate" in their hit 2001 single, in which they sang about a relationship rising above temptation or criticism. (Other words of wisdom borne by the song include "ballers gonna ball" and "callers gonna call.")
The song proved prescient. Shortly thereafter, a new generation of easy-to-ridicule celebrities cropped up on television: Richard Hanson ("Survivor," 2000), Omarosa ("The Apprentice," 2004), and Heidi Montag ("The Hills," 2006), reality stars who owed much of their fame to the public's hatred of them. The more notorious their behavior, the more popular these reality villains became. The more plastic surgery Montag underwent, the more airtime she appeared to receive. Soon enough, having "haters" became an undeniable part of a celebrity's DNA. After all, only important people have haters, one can imagine Montag telling her equally-as-detested reality star husband, Spencer Pratt.
Calling someone a "hater" has became fashionable, a trend word for the vain and the insecure. Celebrities use the phrase as a badge of self-righteousness that places them above the fray of ordinary human interaction, critical or otherwise. Celebrities who dismiss the "haters" have become the missionaries of today, with anyone disrespectful enough to criticize them automatically deemed too shallow or too ignorant to understand the true beauty and purity of the missionary-celebrity calling. "No haters" has become a convenient substitute for "no criticism" -- which is only one step from "no thought" (and is no fun, into the bargain).
On a particularly hilarious recent episode of "Hell's Kitchen" that has since gone viral, restaurant owners Amy and Salomon Bouzaglos defended their flailing business to Gordon Ramsay. "We stand strong together. We have to, because there's a lot of online bullies and haters and bloggers," Amy declared, failing to mention the pair's outrageously awful customer service and the numerous food complaints the restaurant had received just the night before. (In fact, Ramsay was so discouraged by the husband-and-wife duo that he quit).
Haters indeed gonna hate, as 3LW almost once sang. But occasionally, that hate is worth listening to.