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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client has a number of different bus...

Recruitment Genius: Frontend Developer / Designer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working on a range ...

Ashdown Group: Software Developer - C#, .Net, SQL - Cambridgeshire

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful and g...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Controller

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opening has arisen ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kanye West performs live at the Brit Awards 2015  

UK grime is finally getting the recognition it deserves, but why has it taken so long?

Paul Gibbins
 

Jihadi John went to my university – so what?

James Tennent
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower