Most have had just over a week to collate their thoughts, leaving judgements on comment threads all over Vevo, YouTube and countless websites as Miley Cyrus released the second single off of her upcoming Bangerz album. The highly-controversial video is still receiving up-to-the-minute views and the moralists haven’t stopped offloading their opinions on the integrity of this latest visual instalment. Currently on more than 100m views, and in less than a week broke records with the most number of views on Vevo in 24 hours, it’s hard for me to ignore this, as irrelevant as she is to me musically.
Purposely, my approach for this commentary is one of autonomy, so I’ve refrained from doing any research on the video/song/director’s inspiration because it’s like spoiling the ending of a film. Instead I comment as if I’d never really been introduced to Miley because up until she was thrust into my consciousness; HD perfect in white panties, she was a non-muthaf**king factor. (Some may know where that phrase originated, expletives and all).
My initial reaction when I clicked onto this video, with my mum sat next to me, should I add, I believe it was on its debut day and needless to say, I was slightly thrown by the extent of nudity. It was unexpected; certainly questionable and as much as I sympathise with the plight of artists whose dream is to simply perform music but never asked to become role models to a whole generation – it comes with the job – and as examples to young women, I definitely feel that contemporary female artists are blurring the lines of what it is to express your sexuality.
Speaking of Blurred Lines, when I was first alerted to its unedited video, I had similar thoughts but lyrically, the message was so clear that there was no room to contest. However, what I extracted immediately from Wrecking Ball was the hard, concrete, unmerciful nature of loss against the soft, vulnerability attached to love and supposedly, femininity. Art is never easy to define and is entirely subjective which eliminates boundaries, unless they’re self initiated.
Nudity is also a state of being that I’m at ease with, for the most part. As a former life model, I see an immense amount of beauty in the female form and have seen far more intimate representations of myself than that video. Like Miley, in her white vest, no bra and boyish pants, that’s the outfit I’m most comfortable in too, and probably a good percentage of those who tuned in. Licking the hammer like it’s the end of a you-know-what; riding the ball knowing what’s perpendicular with the chain, yes, it’s suggestive, but I never want to ignore sensuality because it’s a core part of our nature. I see no reason to suppress, the action should be to educate. In a roundabout way, there’s a piece of every woman in those visuals, so I respect her statement and see the power in it.
Bigger than her nakedness, fondness of twerking, or as a friend of mine termed it, “long-back dancing,” because while twerking is coined a ‘black thing’ (an African-American blogger whose blog I now can’t find, also said this, and I was instantly offended by the deception) her assets in no way fit the bill. (Watch Kevin Hart’s interview with BBC 1Xtra for his comedic slant on it). What provokes me about the deep interest towards Miley’s drastic transformation from Disney do-gooder to white-Rihanna, is essentially people’s general inability to accept change in others.
Year-on-year since 16, I haven’t failed to notice physical and emotional change in myself. Whether it’s been centered on my style, behaviour, maturity, confidence, it’s something that – better late than never – my dad has observed and even my mum, who’s a grown woman in her 50’s is experiencing. The need to reinvent oneself and the desire to evolve is natural and quite frankly, I’d be concerned if this didn’t take place because life cannot exist without growth. Evolution is everything.
So while my opinion of Miley indefinitely changed, I left the “Beg” protest because I refuse to denigrate my race and myself by saying that she was “begging black” because there’s no such way to define blackness. How suddenly it appeared that she’d adopted this uber-sexual, ‘don’t give a F’ persona did leave me thinking that it was all a gimmick, but as individuals, we attack what we’re unable to understand or fearful of doing ourselves.
How many of us want to loosen the grip of fear and break out from the box we’ve been shaped into, but hold back because actually, inside the box you know yourself very well?
There are boundaries in the box that protect us from judgement and give us enough freedom to not go wild and tarnish the image of ourselves that we’ve constructed for so long. Why explore the other vertices when you risk complicating your identity? But boxes are cardboard for a reason and the abstract one that isn’t really there has mouldable qualities. Conformity is dead, and I commend Miley, irrespective of the puppet masters behind her, on having the balls to redesign her mould.
Without looking at the subtext of Wrecking Ball and the Miley Cyrus saga – sexualisation of women in the media, (when haven’t we heard that before?) how sex is corrupting our society, (why is it of so much significance now?) and everyone screaming to be noticed, (each generation had their rebels). Another friend of mine said to me last week, “You’ve got to be shameless in this game.” We were discussing the media industry and becoming a brand but it applies to all areas of life. Do you. Love you. But most of all, embrace reinvention.
I’m going to leave this with a video from YouTuber, Shameless Maya. I love this girl and got glued to her videos a few months back when I typed in ‘fear’ on YouTube which brought her up. Maya did it and is now reaping the benefits so I think everyone else is on to something, even if you aren’t.