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

PPC Co-Ordinator – Permanent - West Sussex – £24-£30k

£24000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Are you a Marketin...

Senior Asset Manager

£70000 - £75000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Katie Robinson +44 (...

IT Support Analyst (2nd Line Support) - City, London

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare: Ashdown Group: IT Support Ana...

KS1 Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Leicester: KS1 Teaching Specialist Leic...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: It’s been lonely in bed without my sleep soulmate

Rebecca Armstrong
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv  

Why do we stand by and watch Putin?

Ian Birrell
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor