Fantastic review, really and truly. Not exactly what I expected to be reading when I clicked on this post, and that's a good thing.
I agree with a lot of what you have to say, though I still question Miley's awareness in this whole thing. Maybe she is really intelligent and is playing this role perfectly, but I've always gotten the vibe, through the multitude of interviews I've read and seen with her, that she is just a spoiled, rather unintelligent brat. Maybe I'm completely wrong, and I'm certainly willing to continue to follow her career to see where things go, but I've never gotten a genuine vibe from anything she's ever done, especially now. It just feels like a whole lot of "look at me, you guys, I'm TWENTY!"
With all that being said, while I hated "We Can't Stop", I think "Wrecking Ball" is a damn near brilliant pop song. I really can't credit her with any of that, though, since it appears she had no hand in writing it. To me, it would be just as powerful and poignant if any other A-List female pop star were singing it.
I think she knows to an extent. I'm not saying she's a genius by any means and she has said so much stupid stuff, but when it comes to her career I don't think she's totally unaware. She said that she knew how ridiculous and unsexy her VMAs performance was, how silly those little buns in her hair look, and she's admitted that she's a popstar and that it's pretty much her job to get attention. Her last album was awesome but didn't sell super well, so I think this time around she really wanted to make sure people were paying attention to her. I thought she was genuine for a little while a couple months ago right before she cut off her hair, but I honestly don't know if she is going through all these phases so quickly just because she didn't get to go through them at a normal rate like most teens, or what. I think she's said that she never really got to be a kid so she's acting kinda ridiculous and childish now to make up for it. I mean, if you listen to Robot, it seems like she never really got to be independent and call the shots until fairly recently.