Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Something Compares 2 This

In the past two months I’ve thought more about Miley Cyrus than I ever thought I’d think about Miley Cyrus in my entire life. It’s not that I ever had anything against Miley Cyrus in the past, or for her either for that matter. It’s just that she wasn’t in either my age or interest bracket. But now, of course, she’s everywhere. And people are saying everything about her. And it makes me think. All this chatter and clucking about a young woman and how she presents herself. Haven’t we been here before? Haven’t we had this conversation before?

If it wasn’t Miley, it was Madonna. And then Britney. And let’s get back into our way back machines and say – oh, I don’t know – Cher? Sure the specifics may be a little different. One humps a stage in a wedding dress while singing about virginity and another French kisses a sledgehammer while singing about breakups. But the tenor of the conversation is the same. Look at this poor, misguided, crazy, ultimately “slutty” young woman. Tsk-tsk.

Now, I don’t condone tongue-kissing construction equipment or twerking against men dressed like Beetlejuice nearly twice your age. But I don’t find either all that scandalous, really. I thought Miley’s MTV VMA performance was a mess, because artistically it was a mess. Foam fingers and giant teddy bears aren’t exactly Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake.” And I thought her photoshoot with fashion’s resident pornographer Terry Richardson was predictably gross. Seriously, why do people keep posing for that dirty old man?

Then there was the “feud” with Sinead O’Connor, because you aren’t truly a notorious celebrity until you’re involved in a celebrity feud. I have always loved Sinead, and I liked a lot of what Sinead had to say about not allowing the industry to use your body to make itself rich. But I also disagreed with her assertion that women should only show their bodies in private. And it’s here where I started to think, really think, about Miley Cyrus. This question of what is proper and what isn’t proper for young women’s bodies is at the heart of all of this.

I believe women’s bodies should not be used as sexually objectified to sell everything from burgers to cars. But I also believe women have the right to use their bodies how they please. The key is choice, power and intent.

A woman shouldn’t have to take her clothes off to sell a record or a movie or herself. But if a woman wants to take her clothes off to express herself – well, go crazy, girl. What I find interesting is how a woman taking off her clothes can still get our tongues wagging. We’ve all seen it before. Hell, we’ve all probably seen pop star ass cheek in the last few minutes. If it isn’t Miley it’s Rihanna or Ke$ha or Lady Gaga.

How is any of this still scandalous? It’s more interesting at this point when people keep their clothes on, quite frankly. But I’m also not in the business of shaming those who take them off. I super, duper appreciate naked ladies. Because, duh, The Gay. Still it’s a balancing act made even harder by the inherent imbalance in representations of the female and male bodies. Men’s bodies simply aren’t used as currency as women’s are, nor are we nearly as accustomed to seeing them naked in popular culture. If they were these questions of choice and power and intent would be much clearer.

But back to Miley being Miley. If this, this chronic state of sticking ones tongue out and showing off ones labia majora, is really the expression of her inner self then I’m happy for her. We all grow up. Hannah Montana was just a fucking TV character. Get over it. But there’s always that creeping suspicion that this transparent drive to abandon her Disney days is fueled by our inescapable cultural obsession with the commodification of female sexuality. I suspect, in the end like so much in life, it’s a mix of both. And I suspect she doesn’t fully know which is which at this point.

What I do know is I like both “Wrecking Ball” and “Nothing Compares 2 U.” And, surprisingly, the now viral mashup of the two songs is strangely sublime. My enjoyment of these songs has nothing to do with what the women are or aren’t wearing in their videos. I simply like the music.


Carmen SanDiego said...

Genius. As usual
Love ya, Snarker

Anonymous said...

It's like they're singing to each other.

tam said...

F**k ME if this isn't the zeitgeist of the moment!

If this is what transpires from a feud, bring them on :)

I have to reluctantly admit that I love this mash up.... yeah...,mortifying.

Panty Buns said...

What a pretty combination of songs! It would be so much better if the fans don't think there's a feud because of the potential for fan bullying. I like them both and don't think it's scandalous at all. t's true about the commodification but I think the stars showing ass cheek are themselves as much after the money and fame as is the industry. I hope more of the stars go with the retro lingerie looks instead of the recent rash of thong wearing though. I so much prefer having the full cut briefs I like myself be in fashion and available from retailers. Brilliant post. It's true, most of the buzz was about the attire and overlooked how pretty the songs are.

Anonymous said...

Amanda Palmer's answering letter to Sinead is really worth a read as well. Incredibly thoughtful and with a lot of very valid points.

Andy B said...

I have to say, I'm kind of discouraged that everyone is focusing on Miley wearing skimpy clothing and grinding on people, and not the extremely problematic racial dimensions of her "rebellion".