In her latest video, Who Owns My Heart, Miley Cyrus shows quite a bit of skin and dances in a suggestive manner – with both boys and girls (shocker!). As SD’s Sandy reported earlier today, the Parents Television Council has declared the video overly “sexualized.” But PTC president Tim Winter is smart not to have accused Miley of trying to pitch this grown-up version of herself to her Hannah Montana fans. He acknowledges that this new Miley is trying to “distance herself from that fanbase,” despite having “built her fame and fortune entirely on the backs of young girls.”
As a parent and an adult woman, I’m not concerned with Cyrus turning her back on her young fans – after all, that’s to be expected of teen stars. I learned that the hard way when the New Kids on the Block broke up in ’94. But I am concerned that Cyrus seems to think of her new sexualized self as “empowered.” I wouldn’t be so quick to conflate sex and power, young Miley.
Cyrus told MTV News back in June:
I’m a completely different person [than when I released 2008's Breakout]. I’m much more confident. You know, I’ve always been a confident person, but I was going through a lot then. There’s so many people in your life telling you who you should and shouldn’t be, and that’s what Tamed [is] about. It’s about being who you are to the fullest. And now I know who that is.
Good to know, Miley. I’m glad you’re so self-aware. Not every young girl realizes she’s a pawn to her record label at such a young age.
Yes, Who Owns My Heart is sexy, but not nearly as sexy as the eponymous track off the album, Can’t Be Tamed, in which Cyrus is dressed like a giant bird (who loves eyeliner) and bumps and grinds to some seriously drrty choreo. I’m less bothered by the Who Owns My Heart video than by MTV’s description of it. ”As she applies lipstick and mascara, she’s ghetto fab chic in a fishnet hair wrap, rollers, heavy metal jewelry and more skimpy attire.” I might have used the word retro instead of ghetto, but so be it. (I could write another post about the glamorization of 50′s kitsch and how it might subliminally be adversely affecting women – but that’s another subject for another day.)
It’s important to bear in mind as we discuss this video that Miley Cyrus is 17 years old – and she’s spent her entire life in the entertainment industry – so she’s certainly not a child. She’s a young adult. But at 17, even as a seasoned performer, she’s (to borrow from another pop tart) not yet a woman. As a result, I think what upsets me the most about this new Miley in her capacity as role model is that she’s confusing sexual freedom with spiritual freedom – or at least entwining the two. Take a look at this clip of her talking “female empowerment.” I think she really means what she’s saying: that young girls should be the type of person they want to be. She doesn’t seem to be suggesting young girls should be sexually charged or that they should (or can) derive power from sex. But her videos don’t back up her ideals. Parents, fans and critics alike might back off, Miley, if you stop saying one thing and doing another. But of course that’s difficult when we all know shaking your behind helps the bottom line.
What do you think?