Why the Miley Cyrus transformation to Wrecking Ball level should be celebrated

Trying to shock audiences at award shows isn't anything new - but this time it's moved into mocking territory

Share
Related Topics

‘No we can’t stop, no we won’t stop’ flaunts Miley Cyrus on her brash, crass and controversial hit that has dominated charts all summer.

Last month’s accompanying VMA performance stretched this statement to the max – twerking, grinding and gesticulating a frenzied reaction out of audiences worldwide. This week, the video for her latest single “Wrecking Ball” launched, breaking YouTube records by featuring her completely naked. Yet as quickly as marketing bosses revel in their victory, the way derision has turned to ridicule speaks volumes. Both spectacles prove just how bereft of ideas the industry has become.

Of course, shocking at award shows is nothing new. Madonna opened the floodgates by writhing around on the floor in a wedding dress whilst performing “Like A Virgin” way back in 1984. Compare it to Miley, and it feels suitable for Sunday mass.

Although the two exhibitions share the same fundamental value of using sex to sell, it would be wrong to suggest Miley’s coming of age attempt paid justice to the Material Girl. Madonna was clever enough to refrain from bearing herself completely, aware that it would cheapen the act. This allowed the message – that girls should be confident in enjoying sex and sexuality for their own pleasure – to be heard loud and clear.

This subtlety was respected when Britney Spears shed her Disney Club image at 2000’s VMAs, confidently stripping from a pinstripe suit to bikini during a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction”. Putting aside the inherent objectification, the dance moves were well choreographed, strong and dominant. This was a pop-star seemingly in charge and on top of her game.

Fast forward thirteen years, and Miley, this decade’s Disney Club clone, was not afforded such dignity in her coming of age awakening. Born into the media spotlight, and nurtured for commercial stardom from a young age by her singer/song-writer father, Billy Rae, Miley signed with RCA records last year. New manager, Larry Rudolph, decided the time was ripe, aged 20, to elevate her into pop’s elite circle of nubiles.

In some ways it is difficult not to feel sorry for her. The only response the industry has mustered to the liberated media landscape, where choice comes as standard for the YouTube generation, is hypersexualisation. And so, wearily, what started with Rihanna’s “S&M” morphed into Miley re-appropriating twerking: a sexual, often racialised dance move, for a mass white audience.

If things had ended there, audiences might  have stomached it. But the submissive grinding and crotch grabbing toward Robin Thickle during the “Blurred Lines/Give it 2 U” duet came across as desperate. Add the seemingly drugged up facial expressions, very little clothing and suggestive fingering with a giant foam hand, and any sensuality was replaced by gratuitous female degradation. The ambition to mirror Madonna and Britney remained cartoonish.

Whereas previous concoctions of pop and shock found an audience, fortunately Miley’s recipe is too one dimensional. So, while the performance may have earned more than 50,000 likes on the day, there is a sense that the balance could have shifted. The “We Can’t Stop” video and VMA performance have turned her marketing campaign into something of a laughing stock.  A theme continued by the video for new track “Wrecking Ball”, which contains more substance than its predecessor in prospect, but has been smothered by nudity. And Miley suggestively licking a hammer.

Although marketing bosses can claim 19 million views in 24 hours makes the sacrifice worthwhile, the strength of the backlash - epitomised by Anna Wintour reportedly cancelling Miley’s Vogue cover - suggests pop’s sex obsession has gone as far as it can in lieu of artistic merit.  That is something worth celebrating. Thank you Miley.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Barnardo's: Corporate Audit and Inspection – Retail Intern (Leeds)

Unpaid - £4 lunch allowance plus travel to and from work: Barnardo's: Purpose ...

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service / Receptionist

£15000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Journalists Alison Parker and Adam Ward, who were killed after a gunman opened fire during a live broadcast in Virginia  

Because of Facebook and Twitter I still have Alison Parker's final chilling moments looping in my head

Nash Riggins
A Chinese investor holds prayer beads as he monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing  

We fear China's growing power. But it is morally reprehensible to celebrate the country's woes

Fokke Obbema
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future