Posted in Gender, Musings, News
June 25, 2013

Miley Cyrus Needs a Spanking (and not the sexy kind)

By Liz Everly

So I don’t know half the cultural references my fellow Lady Smut bloggers write about. When you have kids, your cultural references shift. I usually don’t have time to watch a whole  movie and don’t watch reality TV and until recently one of the only stations we watched on a regular basis was the Disney Channel. My girls are older now and I find them huddled around the computer watching Youtube shows more than the TV—when we are at home, which is not often these days.

My girls loved the show Hannah Montana, which starred Miley Cyrus and her dad, Billy Ray. I liked the show, even though the premise was kind of silly, wherein a girl lives a double life. Nobody knows who she is, except her best friend and family. She is a superstar “Hannah Montana” by night and a school girl who hangs out at the beach with her friends during the day. During the show, there was a lot of exploration about what it means to be famous—and what it doesn’t mean. I liked it because there was music involved and Miley portrayed a good kid. And Billy Ray played a very good father. Here’s  the opening scene from the Hannah Montana movie:

Unfortunately, Miley has become quite the teen star cliche. We see this coming from a distance—yet the people around her seem helpless about helping her. It happens so much to these teen stars that I think we are becoming jaded about it, when it’s still deeply disturbing. I think of Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, and Justin Bieber. Jail. Drugs. Bad relationships and bringing children into the mix.  I also think of Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse. The whole fame at young age thing often leads to tragedy. With Miley, there have been drug arrests, films of her doing lap dances, and so on. Now is the time for someone in her family or in her circle of friends to step up.

Of  course, Miley Cyrus has gone through several stages in her career already—at the ripe old age of 20. The last and newest stage of it is troubling to me—my daughter and I watched the latest video together and she said “That’s so disappointing.” I gotta say I loved hearing that from my 12-year-old’s mouth.

Here it is:

I think one of the many things we are about here at Lady Smut is owning your own sexuality. And I for one love to see artists stretch and try new things—and even get sexy. But this video and and song is troubling on many levels. (Yet it’s up for Billboard award, so what do I know?)  I’m not sure I see it as expression as much as I do pandering. What do you think?

I don’t find it sexy at all–in fact, I think it’s sad. And then there is this, reported on The Root, in an interview about her video–Miley told this to her producers:

“I want urban. I just want something that feels black.”

This from the writer of the Root piece: “OK, listen. I’m generally all for people doing what they want to do and being who they want to be, but this whole thing just pokes me directly in my eyeball. I have a bit of a problem with people taking from and profiting off of a culture while generally not caring about or giving back to it. Things that are frowned upon and labeled “ghetto” and “ratchet” when black people do them — twerking, wearing gold teeth, getting multicolored weave — are suddenly hip and trendy when adopted by white folk.”

Hmm. As I said, Miley is pandering. This is not an artistic exploration as much as it is a privileged young woman profiting from acting like a spoiled brat and flaunting that she can do whatever the eff she wants. I’m calling bullshit on her. She’s buying in to the whole “I need to rebel because I had this sweet image” thing and wants her fans to think she is strong and sexy because she’d doing that. So cliche. So sad. And so unsexy and weak.

Do you know what would be rebellious for a 20 year-old superstar? To NOT go down that road. C’mon Miley. We know you have it in you.

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  • Suzie

    I have to admit this video disturbs me on so many levels. There are some elements in it that are remniscent of Pink, but Pink has a way of making her videos appear mature and real. With Miley, it just comes off as fake and rebellious. I am really sad to see she’s gone down this road.

    Reply to Suzie
    • Post authorLizEverly

      Thanks for commenting. You know, I saw the Pink influence in there, as well. But Pink is Pink and is pretty consistent. (I love Pink, BTW!) I agree that Miley is coming off as fake and rebellious. Fingers crossed that things change for her.

      Reply to LizEverly
    • madelineiva

      To me, Suzie it was also very Pink-esque –yes, but also very Madonna derivative. At least Pink found a way to emerge from being a Madonna wannabe. She does such amazing anthems and is so grounded in her unique brand of anger and defiance. She’s totally herself now, something different and her own from all that packaging.

      This Cyrus video to me was slick and sorta sad. It seemed about wanting to express herself without censorship — but what if there’s no there there?

      She’s a good singer — that Jolene song was really well done, but what’s a poor child singer to do when she wants a second act career if she’s been a trained poodle her whole life? I’m sure that it takes a mini-miracle for some tweener starlet to shake it off and find her own sexuality in a healthy way while in the midst of that neurotic mint making mind fuck she went through…

      Reply to madelineiva
      • Post authorLizEverly

        Yeah, I totally get that, too, Madeline. Very few seemto make that transition gracefully.

        Reply to LizEverly
  • Elizabeth Shore

    Honestly, I couldn’t even get through We Can’t Stop it was so horrendously bad. No hook, nonsensical lyrics, and with complete respect to my fellow Lady Smut blogger, I don’t actually think she can sing at all. Her voice is so over-processed with synths and heavy reverb because she can’t hold a tune. I remember when she sang 7 Things on the Today show I had such a distinct impression that she can’t sing. My $.2, anyway.

    The We Can’t Stop video makes it seem like she’s trying to be Lady Gaga, she’s trying to be Madonna, and she’s trying to be Pink and failing miserably at it all. It’s a shame. She was churned through the Disney marketing machine into a huge pop star, but if she doesn’t find out who she is, instead of trying to be someone else, I think she’s quickly going to become a pop music footnote.

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • madelineiva

      I think about this from a writer’s point of view. How desperate someone must feel and how out of control if they are worried about their career plunging and feel helpless to stop it. And society is so sexualized (sez I the erotic romance writer) that it must seem like the ‘easy fix’ to sex it up.


      Reply to madelineiva
  • Post authorLizEverly

    Yeah–I don’t think she’s the best singer, but in that third video–the Jolene video, I thought she sang as well as most I hear these days. LOL. And I think her “voice” is more suited for country or folk.

    Reply to LizEverly
  • Jen

    I was so disturbed by this video. Not because it was “too sexy” or “too violent” but because there was no life there, no joy. It was all for shock value in my opinion. Honestly, when Britney Spears did “3”, I sensed (in the video) some raw sexual energy. Even in the midst of crazy, Britney still pulled off “sexy” in most of her videos. In Mylie’s vid, I just sensed a big middle finger and a need for attention. Sad.

    • Post authorLizEverly

      I think you hit the nail on the head. And you’re right about Britney–all the way around. It seems as if she’s getting her life together, finally, as well. Let’s hope so.

      Reply to LizEverly
  • chicaderock

    I think all stars nowadays are fabricated by their sponsors, it’s whatever sells.

    Reply to chicaderock
    • madelineiva

      Very true, but some fabrications are so much better than others!

      Reply to madelineiva
  • Post authorLizEverly

    Reblogged this on Liz Everly and commented:

    Miley Cyrus Needs a Spanking (and not the sexy kind)

    Reply to LizEverly
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  • Author Charmaine Gordon

    How disgusting can you get? This is part of the dumbing down of America, folks. Singin’ In The Rain, anyone?

    Reply to Author Charmaine Gordon
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  • Vicki

    I just watched the first part of the “We Can’t Stop” video again. A young guy is eating a MONEY SANDWICH. Nice way to flaunt that, while others are suffering and dying from poverty, you’re so stinkin’ rich you can EAT money. UGH. This has a very ugly “let them eat cake” kind of vibe.

    In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, [Noel Gallagher of Oasis] said: “I think there’s a trend, unfortunately, in the game, at the minute, of girls desperately trying to be provocative or desperately trying to – in inverted commas – ‘start the debate’ about some old sh*t or other.

    “Because, really, they’re not very good. We have it in England regularly, and you have it in the States.

    “I feel bad for ’em. It’s like, ‘Write a good song. Don’t make a provocative video – write a good f**king song.’

    “That’ll serve you better, I think … It’s a shame, because it puts all the other female artists back about f**king five years.”

    I disagree with Noel that Miley is “not very good.” However, I do agree that she’s playing out a tired cliche that doesn’t do much good for women. And makes her look like a silly spoiled brat.

    Reply to Vicki
    • Post authorLizEverly

      Bravo! And thanks for commenting, Vicki!

      Reply to LizEverly

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