In a Rolling Stone interview, Cyrus reveals that she views herself as Bieber's mentor. However, I can't imagine Coleridge comparing Wordsworth to Vanilla Ice

Wordsworth and Coleridge, Van Gogh and Gauguin, Lewis and Tolkien, Cyrus and Bieber. To the canon of Significant Artistic Friendships, then, and a thrilling new entry, as Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber reveal the role they play not just in each other's lives, but in the cultural life of the early 21st century.

As your records will show, Miley recently deposed Gwyneth Paltrow as Earth's most polarising figure, with the entire planet required to stop what they were doing and declare whether they were for or against her. No vignette better sums up the hilarious overreaction to her VMA performance than the fact that Fox Sports actually dredged up the creator of the foam finger, who genuinely appeared to feel Miley rubbing herself with one had compromised the innate nobility of his invention. "Fortunately, the foam finger has been around long enough that it will survive this incident," this gentleman concluded. But: "She took an honourable icon that is seen in sporting venues everywhere and degraded it," he lamented, studiously ignoring the fact that the foam finger has itself degraded any number of classic rock tracks, and even elements of sport itself. (Anyone who can hear Queen's Another One Bites the Dust without imagining his creation being waved idiotically at some departing Twenty20 batsman's back is a purer soul than me.)

Mostly, as far as Lost in Showbiz can work out, you're supposed to be against Miley, with your outraged brothers-in-arms featuring everyone from all human parents to a zombie Walt Disney, who has been freed from his cryonic bonds beneath Cinderella Castle in Disneyland, and is hellbent on avenging the twerking of his legacy, of which Miley – who made her cultural debut as Disney's Hannah Montana – was once such a cookie-cutter custodian.

Is it wrong to really want Miley to simulate a threesome with Mickey and Minnie on her next stage outing? I expect so, but Lost in Showbiz can't help but see her as an amusing rejoinder to George Bernard Shaw's dreary suggestion that youth is wasted on the young. A rebel whose only cause is herself, Miley is incapable of opening her mouth without unleashing a weapons-grade version of the solipsism of the average teen – and an old square like me can get quite wistful just listening to it.

As for Miley's inability to listen to herself, that remains the proverbial gift that keeps on giving. This week, it was delivered in the form of her Rolling Stone cover story, in which she graciously styled herself as the Ben Kenobi figure to Justin Bieber's Luke Skywalker.

"I'm not that much older than him, so I never want it to feel like I'm mentoring him," began her discourse on Bieber. "But I do mentor him in a way. Because I've been doing this shit for a long time, and I've transitioned, and I don't think he's done it yet."

Now, come come. Out-of-control badboy Bieber did recently swear at a picture of Bill Clinton – and I know he personally apologised to the former president thereafter, but still … As for Miley's apparent conviction that she's "transitioned" from Hannah Montana to Tony Montana, we'll leave that one hanging for now, as madam has a little more undermining to do.

"He's trying really hard," Miley explains of Bieber. "People don't take him seriously," she insists caringly, "but he really can play the drums, he really can play the guitar, he really can sing. I just don't want to see him fuck that up, to where people think he's Vanilla Ice."

Lost in Showbiz ADORES this sort of mentoring, which resembles little so much as Dangerous Liaisons for the twerk generation. Miley in the Glenn Close role, obviously.

"I tell him that," she explains of her private fears, voiced in the biggest magazine interview of her career, that Justin Bieber will become the modern day version of the least credible, most laughable white homie – fauxmie, if you will – to ever stalk popular culture. "Like: 'You don't want to become a joke … But the thing is," Miley laughs, "I think boys are like, seven years behind. So in his head, he's really, like, 12."

As I say, Miley has something of a tin ear for her own pronouncements, but even she appears to have read these sentiments back and judged an emergency tweet was in order.

"Always have ALWAYS will root for @justinbieber," this ran. "He always has and ALWAYS will be the shit. #onlylamestwistwords" Mmm. Your move, Bieber.

"All good," replied Bieber, possibly through gritted teeth. "I know what it is." But for the benefit of humans too unsophisticated to know what it is he observed to Miley that: "We keep it interesting."

And so they do, these titans of the age, whose belief that they are its most fascinating creatures says infinitely more about the age than it does about their egos. "The VMAs was nothing more than God or the Universe showing you how powerful anything you do is," runs a text Miley receives from Pharrell during the Rolling Stone inteview. "It's like uranium – it has the power to take over lives and power entire countries. Now that you've seen your power, master it."

And on that nuclear bombshell …

Miley Cyrus

Justin Bieber


Samuel Taylor Coleridge

William Wordsworth


Marina Hyde

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