Your open letter to Miley is really about you, Sinead

An open letter is attention-seeking and the polar opposite of private

Share
Related Topics

It has been seven(ish) hours and 40 days since Miley Cyrus twerked in a nude latex bikini at the MTV Awards. In those 40 days a lot has happened; most noticeably the pop star has released a single and video in which she licks a sledgehammer and straddles a wrecking ball in the nude. So far it has received 183 million hits on Vevo – a record-breaking 19.3 million of them in the first 24 hours.

In the meantime, as the internet buzzes with people liking and stridently hating Cyrus's work, the spectacle of a 20-year-old former child star publicly discovering her identity and sexuality has become unavoidable. Depending on where you stand, it has thrown an ugly light on to society's knee-jerk misogyny, or on to its voracious appetite for celebrity trash.

Either way, it was inevitable that at some point all of the tweets and comments and warnings from Elton John would coalesce into an open letter. Attention-seeking, solipsistic, viral-prone and the polar opposite of private – nothing encapsulates the times more than an open letter. This one came from the keyboard of pop star-turned-papal scourge Sinead O'Connor. Cyrus has acknowledged the Irish singer's "Nothing Compares 2 U" video as an influence on her own "Wrecking Ball". In return, O'Connor wrote an open letter, "in the spirit of motherliness and love", to tell Cyrus that she is obscuring her talent by allowing herself to be "pimped" by greedy male record company executives, and worse, that she is sending a "prostitution is cool" message to her young female fans. "It is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent," she wrote, sensibly.

Cyrus, like most young women who are told to put on some more clothes and stop messing about, didn't take the advice too well. In fact, she took it with some ill grace, tweeting: "Sinead, I don't have time to write you an open letter because I'm hosting and performing on SNL [Saturday Night Live] this week." She also compared O'Connor to the troubled actress Amanda Bynes and shared a picture of O'Connor tearing up a picture of the Pope on SNL in 1992. (The latter, I think, just proving that there are more ways for pop stars to get people talking than with latex and licking). Events took a turn for the slangy when O'Connor wrote back, again openly, to take exception to Cyrus mocking mental illness. It will most likely rumble on for some time yet. And we will most likely continue to eavesdrop, willingly or not.

One thing O'Connor is right to question is who is advising Cyrus. The list of child stars turned car crashes continues to grow and yet the entertainment industry continues to refuse to take responsibility. Cyrus may be being exploited by lecherous A&R men, she may be doing it for herself. Either way she is 20 and grown-up advice is what she, like every 20 year old, needs. Should that come in an open letter and the media circus that brings, or a private note from someone who knows her? If we're really talking about motherliness and love, the answer is clear.

+++++

David Cameron is a feminist. Last week he wasn't sure, telling Red magazine: "Umm … I don't know what I'd call myself … It's up to others to attach labels." Perhaps, like Beyoncé, he believes that we "need to find a catchy new word for feminism, like bootylicious". This week, he had a rethink on Channel 4 News. "When I was asked that question, what I should have said is if that means equal rights for women, then yes. If that is what you mean by feminist, then yes, I am a feminist."

That is exactly what feminist means, so that is good. But is it enough? As any good feminist knows, it is deeds not words that bring about equal rights. Cameron might like to look at his Conservative Party board. Out of 22 members, only three are female. Or to put it another way, there are as many women making top-level decisions about the party as there are men called Steve.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: Every privatised corner of the NHS would be taken back into public ownership

Philip Pullman
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links