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

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Outgunned by a lack of military knowledge

Guy Keleny
Ukip leader Nigel Farage in Tiny Tim’s tea shop while canvassing in Rochester this week  

General Election 2015: What on earth happened to Ukip?

Matthew Norman
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions