Miley Cyrus, the woman its okay to slut shame.

I once had a flatmate who, with little encouragement, could perform the entire dance routine to the ‘Hoedown Throwdown’ with worrying precision. I must admit it was quite impressive. Aside from this I have never had much interest in Miley Cyrus (or Hannah Montana, if you grew up watching the Disney Channel).  She’s Billy Ray Cyrus’s daughter? That doesn’t mean much to me. She’s engaged to Liam Hemsworth? Lucky him. She’s cut her hair off and gone ’crazy’? Why is that any of my business?

Celebrity culture, as I’ve written before, is all about making people believe their idols are infallible. Miley Cyrus is the victim of the backlash, almost inevitably felt by those in the public eye, which occurs when the penny drops. When we all realise that she is, before everything else, a twenty year old woman and not a picture perfect pop-star. She has become daddy’s girl gone bad (quite literally considering her family connection to the music business). Everything she does, whether it be drinking, breaking up with her fiancé or getting a bad haircut is not simply the growing pains every young person goes through but the symptoms of a deeper, darker crisis. Should anyone care to look there are, I know, photos of myself in possession of a bad haircut and an even worse dress sense during my teenager year. Thankfully I have never been idolised by millions of people so no one cares that I once had a pseudo-mullet. But for Miley every wrong turn is another stage in a fall from grace that, like her nearest British equivalent Amy Winehouse, both fascinates and horrifies the press.

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‘That’ twerk… (Image from Mirror Online)

 

However Winehouse, a singer who found fame young and didn’t recovered, never twerked. In the long and shabby history of live music an odd, sexually suggestive dance move is hardly notable. Jimmy Hendrix set fire to his guitar, Mick Jagger thrust in every direction possible and Ozzy Osbourne once bit the head off a bat (admittedly this was an accident). If you ever want to hear some truly outlandish stories of live music, ask a Dillinger Escape Plan fan. However ever since that VMA performance, when Cyrus twerked at (or should that be on?) Canadian misogynist Robin Thicke and his monochrome clad package she has jumped to the top of the pile. No one appears to have seen anything more outrageous on a stage and, almost overnight, Miley Cyrus has become the celebrity it is okay to slut shame.

One only has to observe the reaction to the VMAs, and to her subsequent music video for the song ‘Wrecking Ball’, to see Cyruswatch taking a very dark turn. ‘Look at when she is doing!’, ‘Look at what she is wearing!’ and ‘What has happened to her?’ have become the questions on everyone’s lips. Twerking may be a fairly ridiculous dance move and licking a hammer and then riding naked on a wrecking ball does look quite odd but it is hardly a new low for the human race. Neither is taking to the stage wearing next to nothing, that is old hat for the VMAs. However we have all gone rabid over it. Meanwhile there is no widespread, outcry over her partner on stage that night, the aforementioned Thicke. Why is it that a woman shaking her backside on stage is more shame worthy that a man performing a song that talks of ‘domesticating’ women and contains lines like ‘I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two’ (no really, look it up)? The way the VMA performance, and by extension everything Miley Cyrus has done since, is regarded is an example of that age old playground double standard that calls a girl who sleeps around a slut by the boys who does so a lad.

This is nothing new in the music industry. Marianne Faithful had her reputation comprehensively trashed after that infamous, and probably fictitious, encounter involving Mick Jagger and a mars bar while he was able to continue hip shaking. Indeed when Jagger was later sent to prison for possession of marijuana there was a huge public outcry against his sentence. Compare this to the outrage at such behaviour that Faithful had to endure when her own drug use became apparent. One may argue that this occurred in a different time and under different circumstances but the same principle applied then as now. It is somehow shameful for women to act outrageous, in music you have to be a man to get away with sex and drugs. Of course one shouldn’t blame the music industry for this; it is, as ever, reflecting the sensibilities of society at large. While the concerned parents of middle-England are entitled to hope their daughters don’t twerk at the next school disco they don’t seem to be concerned that ‘Blurred Lines’ is still on the Radio One playlist. While this little slice of hypocrisy continues Miley Cyrus won’t be the last female celebrity to fall foul of slut shaming.

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One thought on “Miley Cyrus, the woman its okay to slut shame.

  1. Miley’s not the only slut by a long shot:

    Britney Spears was always a slut from the beginning in that schoolgirl outfit (and check out the naked “Womanizer” video from a few years ago).
    Lady GaGa is a slut.
    Nicki Minaj is a slut.
    Beyonce is a slut.
    Katy Perry is a slut.

    There are lots of sluts in modern music, and it’s all a shame.

    Like

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