Put it away, Miley

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Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.

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78 Responses

  1. Avatar morat20
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    says:

    Short answer? Men in generally are aroused by young women. So a female pop star, if she wants to transition from kids to adults, has to sexualize for two reasons: To keep her fan base as THEY go through puberty and focus on T&A and to expand her fan base to the coveted 13-39 male demographic.

    Which of course sets a lovely image for her female fans, which is “This is what it takes to attract a man. This is how a woman is”.

    Lovely, isn’t it? It all boils down to horny men and what they want to see, and the world bends around it.Report

    • Avatar morat20 in reply to morat20
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      says:

      The super short answer is: If the VMA’s didn’t have ‘controversy’, then nobody would talk about them the next day and what would be the point of having them.Report

    • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to morat20
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      says:

      Sure, but what makes this display odd is that it was not sexually attractive. I may cover my eyes with fingers wide-apart to maintain my trad-cred… but this, this was appalling. I couldn’t make it past the tongue… not even for pure cultural prurience… and that was just the first 10 seconds. Oddly, I don’t really have a cultural critique to offer other than: inept.

      If she were Salome, John the Baptist would have been dining with Herod.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        I wanted to laugh at that but the laugh died in my throat.

        We have to work so hard to make something scandalous anymore that the amount of effort it takes to be scandalous exposes the man behind the curtain and it just feels like someone trying too hard.

        You go back and think about the pearls we used to clutch and it seems almost quaint. Remember when we were scandalized by Marie Osmond’s divorce? Good times.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        I wonder if Miley Cyrus had instead done something equivalent to the Dixie Chicks in 2003 – baring political opinions instead of flesh – would she have achieved scandal. Personally I suspect so.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z aitch in reply to Marchmaine
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        says:

        it was not sexually attractive.

        This. It was sexual without being sexy. I found the childish thing she was wearing made it really creepy. If anything it reminded me of that show about little girls doing pageants–also very creepily sexualized, but definitely not sexy, or to use MarchMaine’s term, attractive.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus F.
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    says:

    Well, I’ve played shows in my skivvies. More to the point, allow me to introduce you to Iggy Pop, a man whose career-length wardrobe bill has been less than Miley Cyrus spends on nail polish in a week.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Rufus F.
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      says:

      I do not hold myself out as any expert in Iggy Pop, but my impression of him is that his lack of clothing had a lot more to do with being transgressive than with trying to make himself a sex symbol. Ditto the Red Hot Chili Peppers performing with naught but socks covering their junk, which I had forgotten about until just now.Report

      • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Russell Saunders
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        says:

        The socks were a later addition, I think – at first they didn’t even wear those. It was once they got into bigger concert venues that they had to compromise on wearing socks.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Russell Saunders
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        says:

        Yeah, I think that’s probably right about Iggy. Probably the best thing that was ever written about him, Lester Bang’s review of Fun House, makes sort of the same point about why rock music needs jesters like Iggy to deflate “sex gods” like Robert Plant. Of course, the other side of it is that the Stooges wrote legitimately sexy music, even if it was from more of a young punks trolling the streets point of view. So, it’s transgressive because it’s the dirtbag hoodlum saying “I’m gonna stick it deep inside,” which is a sort of response to all the prefab sex symbols.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Russell Saunders
        Ignored
        says:

        Just in case anybody missed it the other day:

        Report

  3. Avatar Sam Levine
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    says:

    It’s not like Elvis destroyed America for having the temerity of shaking his hips sexually on television. Perhaps you should let the kids stay off of your lawn.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Sam Levine
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      says:

      Yes, yes. “Stay off my lawn.” How droll.

      So I guess if something doesn’t destroy America outright, then that means it’s totally OK and there’s no reason to comment negatively about it? Because Elvis moved his pelvis in a sexually suggestive manner, there’s no daylight at all in between him and Miley Cyrus? And the discrepancy between how male and female performers are presented to the public is of no concern whatsoever? Because Elvis? Any concern raised = pass the Geritol?Report

      • Avatar Sam Levine in reply to Russell Saunders
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        says:

        > Elvis moved his pelvis in a sexually suggestive manner, there’s no daylight at all in between him and Miley Cyrus?

        People were freaking out about Elvis in the 1950s, the Beatles in the 1960s, Madonna in the 1980s, “Grinding” in the 1980s and 1990s, etc. etc. People have been worried about licentious behavior and media (cards, comics, movies, pool, bathing suits that show above the knees, etc.) since before Plato.

        Ultimately the fear here is that young people will have sex. The broader cultural trend has more to do with individuals controlling their bodies (i.e. the pill) than it does with dancing and that train already kept a rolling all night long and left the station.

        tl;dr yes, the kids are having sex and it’s not on your lawn.Report

      • Um… no.

        I am not lamenting sexually suggestive behavior in this post. I am pointing out that there is a gulf between how female performers are expected to commodify their sexuality and how males are, and how obvious it becomes when a female celebrity transitions out of girlhood.

        [Edited to reflect that I neglected to put the @sam levine at the beginning (and it seems I can’t add it now), but the above was a response to him, not Rufus.]Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Russell Saunders
        Ignored
        says:

        Some scattered thoughts:
        1.) If she wanted to divorce herself from her youthful image, why all the teddy bears?
        2.) Miley has gotten criticism in a number of places for her “twerking” and appropriation of “ratchet” culture. She strikes me as someone who is criminally tone deaf.
        3.) When she is not acting ridiculous, I actually think she is a very pretty young woman. Even with the short hair, which I tend not to be a fan of. But she looked TERRIBLE there. And not just from a “Her behavior is outrageous” standpoint. Like, she just looked unattractive on all levels. So if her goal was to be sexy, she whiffed. Hard.
        4.) I’m curious how the process of creating that piece went. Surely there were other, presumably competent people involved. And yet everyone agreed, or agreed enough, that that was a good performance?Report

      • Avatar Sam Levine in reply to Russell Saunders
        Ignored
        says:

        > I am not lamenting sexually suggestive behavior in this post. I am pointing out
        > that there is a gulf between how female performers are expected to
        > commodify their sexuality and how males are, and how obvious it becomes
        > when a female celebrity transitions out of girlhood.

        Pop is usually about sex to some degree. When Usher wasn’t wearing a shirt, that’s about sex. When Justin Timberlake is wearing a suit and tie, that’s also about sex (it was also about sex when he was a teenager in ‘N Sync). When Justin Bieber (or the Beatles) has a stupid haircut, etc. etc. etc… Just because they aren’t wearing codpieces and nothing else doesn’t mean that they’re not sex symbols.Report

      • Avatar Gaelen in reply to Russell Saunders
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        says:

        Sam,

        But if those male performers were wearing cod pieces then there wouldn’t really be a difference between the sexual commodification of men and women. Which was kind of the point of the post.Report

      • Avatar Reformed Republican in reply to Russell Saunders
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        says:

        tl;dr yes, the kids are having sex and it’s not on your lawn.

        That is probably for the best. We have a lot of fire ants in Florida.Report

      • Avatar veronica dire in reply to Russell Saunders
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        says:

        @kazzy I more or less assumed the bears were meant to symbolize her childhood-celebrity-innocence, which she pulls away to reveal her mad-free-wild sexuality.

        As a metaphor, it failed.Report

    • Avatar Sam Levine in reply to Sam Levine
      Ignored
      says:

      > But if those male performers were wearing cod pieces then there wouldn’t really be a
      > difference between the sexual commodification of men and women. Which was kind
      > of the point of the post.

      It’s still about sex, and the only thing that’s older than people complaining about young people having sex or making art about sex is sex itself.

      Prince could play a guitar shaped like a penis and perform in assless chaps while singing about making sweet, sweet love to young girls and it didn’t destroy the fabric of civilization. If he’d done it naked it would have been different, but it ultimately would have still been about sex. Dance is frequently either simulated sex or an audition for the same. People will always complain that they (whoever “they” is this year) are sullying the minds of youth while *conveniently forgetting their childhoods*.Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        First, let’s just stipulate that nowhere in my post did I come close to implying that any of this was going to destroy the fabric of civilization. There are many things in our society that, however problematic, won’t destroy it. And yet they remain problematic. As it happens, I concur with Sam’s assessment below about one of our society’s broken areas being how we expect girls to become women.

        And the counter-example of Prince is one that occurred to me this morning. He’s the one exception I can think of to the general rule that male performers usually keep their clothes on while singing about sex.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        But let’s note that Prince didn’t deliberately create an intersection between being childlike and being sexual, as Miley Cyrus did. This is not disturbing. This, combined with what followed, is.Report

      • Avatar Sam in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        Aitch,

        I’m exceedingly confused about what you’re saying. How did Miley create an intersection between being childlike and being sexual? Because there were dancing teddy bears? Because she looks young? Because there were dancing teddy bears and she looks young? She’s 20. She’s young. She’s not a child though.

        Nor is she creating the intersection of sexuality and youth. That’s existed forever. Start with every Catholic schoolgirl fantasy.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        Prince, and camels, per Kevin Smith (possibly NSFW for language, but otherwise, it’s less dirty and more ridiculous than that sounds):

        Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        Sam,

        By “create,” I only meant for this performance, not in some sense of creating something innovative and new (I’m not sure she’s talented enough to do that).

        But it’s the teddy bears, which to me are an invocation of childlikeness, leading into an overtly sexual exhibition (which on its own doesn’t bother me, although I was intrigued by just how boringly unsexy it seemed to be).

        Someone else here interprets it as showing the transition, which is probably a fair enough take, too. But to me it smacks of playing on pedo or ephebophiliac themes. Yes, like Catholic schoolgirl fantasies. But just because those have been around for a long time doesn’t mean they’re desirable.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        James,
        if she had actually explored some preadolescent sexual fantasies, it would have been both more provocative and tasteful.Report

      • Avatar Sam in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        Aitch,

        I’m not sure that the Catholic schoolgirl fantasy isn’t desirable. It certainly is to some people or the market wouldn’t provide it in spades. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something though?Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        Same,

        I don’t know where you’re going. I think sexual fantasies about preadolescents are bad in and of themselves. Maybe you don’t, or maybe you think I’m such a subjective values fundamentalist that I don’t think anything can ever be critiqued. Or maybe you’re on another track entirely; I really just don’t know.

        Somehow you and I are seemingly incapable of actually communicating to each other in a way that allows us to get an accurate handle on what the other is saying, and this is looking like that same problem yet again. No hard feelings, and no criticism intended, but maybe we just shouldn’t waste the energy.Report

      • Avatar kenB in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        I think sexual fantasies about preadolescents are bad in and of themselves.

        This is interesting — do you feel the same way about, say, violent video games?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        Let me tell you about my mother.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        KenB,

        Is that a sincere question or a setup? I hate to be so cynical, but I just can’t tell anymore, and it seems there’s so much of the latter here these days. I’m willing to answer an honestly curious question, but I’m not in a mood to have anyone–anyone else who chimes in–play some kind of gotcha on my response. In truth, the past week has been exhausting, so I’m a bit edgy, and I’m likely to respond poorly if that happens.

        But I don’t want to blow you off if it’s just sincere curiosity.Report

      • Avatar kenB in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        It was sincere, but it may not be a conversation worth having, or at least not in this venue. I was just struck by the “in and of themselves” part — if we assumed that someone was indulging in these fantasies but was never going to act on them, or even let them affect his/her real-world actions in any way, would we still feel the need to condemn them? And then I thought about Grand Theft Auto and that sort of thing, which seemed like a not-dissimilar issue but with a less offensive fantasy. But feel free not to respond — it’s getting pretty far off-topic anyway.Report

      • Avatar Sam in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        Aitch,

        I know we tend to speak past each other, but in this case, I think we’re using terms differently. When you write, “I think sexual fantasies about preadolescents are bad in and of themselves” I nod vigorously in agreement. But where we might diverge is that I don’t think those who have the Catholic schoolgirl fantasy (generally speaking) are thinking about preadolescent girls. I don’t even think they’re thinking about “young” teenagers. The fantasy is not necessarily indicative of ephebophilic tendencies of any sort. I think for those folks who fantasize in this way, we’re talking about scenarios and outfits and I’m getting the heebie jeebies working through this.

        Then there’s the issue of desirability. Obviously, we might prefer that folks fantasized about other things (although the Catholic schoolgirl fantasy, depending upon the context, is relatively vanilla as these things go), but that’s not the way sexuality works. And besides, even if we did agree that other fantasies are more appropriate, then what?

        Finally, what else could Cyrus have done to generate the sort of attention/conversation/focus that she did?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        “I am embarrassed by our President and I can’t wait for a Republican to be in the White House.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        kenb,
        GTA could be a pizzadelivery service game. Same. Exact. Game. noviolence.

        So, in that sense, if one is inclined to be a prude, one should be more upset at it.

        kenb,
        Like you, I can’t find the fantasies bad. Everyone’s fucked up with fantasies anyway. And I’m NOT going to deride Last Exile simply because it was drawn (partially) by pedophiles. It’s still great art.

        sam,
        Femme Fatale, rather than Vamp.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to Sam Levine
        Ignored
        says:

        @sam
        I don’t think those who have the Catholic schoolgirl fantasy (generally speaking) are thinking about preadolescent girls. I don’t even think they’re thinking about “young” teenagers.

        *Shrug* Maybe so. In which case it wouldn’t necessarily bother me. From an evolutionary perspective, men being attracted to post-pubescent girls, even young ones, is logically natural, even if we are encultured for it to give us the heebie-jeebies. Attraction to pre-pubescent girls doesn’t easily bear such an explanation, though, so to me it seems indicative of a dangerous malfunction–as in a “that guy’s just wired wrong, and there’s naught to be done about it” kind of way. I suspect such people are less able to control their urges, precisely because it’s a problem of bad wiring, and are inherently dangerous.

        Finally, what else could Cyrus have done to generate the sort of attention/conversation/focus that she did?

        Why ask me? Cyrus’s success or failure is entirely outside the scope of my concern. I’m not here to advise her unless she’s going to cut me a check for it.

        @kenb
        See my comment about bad wiring and attraction to pre-pubescents. I’m no fan of violent video games, but an attraction to violence is, for better or worse (and probably worse), a natural human inclination. So without suggesting I somehow approve of violence, I’m more apt to shrug my shoulders at it. But not being a video game player, I’m in no position to comment intelligently on any particular game.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Sam Levine
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        says:

        James,
        ” I suspect such people are less able to control their urges, precisely because it’s a problem of bad wiring, and are inherently dangerous.”

        Roughly a third of people have fantasies that incline them away from actual consummation of sex (bondage/s&m/footfetishists, the list goes on).

        Are you really trying to say that a third of the population is inherently dangerous? If so, perhaps you (or your loved ones) need a rapehorn.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko
    Ignored
    says:

    I made it to 1:54 in the Miley Cyrus video before I had to turn it off. I got the distinct impression that the stage act and in particular Ms. Cyrus’ choreography was intended to convey the impression of a pre-teenage girl who has discovered that masturbation feels good, surrounded in her bedroom by teddy bears and other relics of an innocent childhood. This is not titillating in any way.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      Teddy bear to stripper is basically a ridiculously old tactic. It’s basically a trope, it’s so time worn.

      “Oh look, your daughter grows into a woman who has sex and babies on her own. Let’s time compress it to shock Dad!”

      Which is, you know, what they did. It’s like the deliberately super provocative version of “Your little girl will one day grow up and move out and do crap at college you don’t even want to know about”.

      And hey presto — they got EXACTLY the response they wanted. The people who aren’t the VMA’s target demographic are getting all in a tizzy, and talking about the VMA’s, which makes the VMA’s target demographic interested in it.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Morat20
        Ignored
        says:

        Yeah, I think the sexytime-with-teddybears thing comes from a lot of people having that first teenage sexual experience in a room where not all the incidents of early childhood have been edited away.

        Skip the teddy bears. Wear an actual teddy.Report

  5. Avatar ScarletNumber
    Ignored
    says:

    Why most pop culture equate growing up with a girl’s sexual availability?

    That question seems axiomatic to me.Report

  6. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    I have an alternative theory to Morat’s above. Its not so much alternative as complimentary. Transitioning between child star and adult star is problematic. Most child celebrities have a difficult time keeping their careers going as adults becasue they are assoiciated with what they did as children. Flaunting sexuality is quick and easy way for an adult star to renounce their childhood. The factors mentioned by Morat20 help here. The other method, get starring roles in quality movies like Jodie Foster is much toughter.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      Or, in Miley’s case, simply recording an album that people want to listen to? Because my understanding is that the song she sang was already a big hit, and thus she didn’t need to do that to promote it.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to LeeEsq
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      says:

      I think that’s a big part of it. What she’s trying to do here is kill Hannah Montanna. Add to that a heady cocktail of fame and constant scrutiny by the press and its not terrible surprising that child performers tend to go totally off the rails.Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer
    Ignored
    says:

    Here is what I have to say about the matter.

    I only knew yesterday was the VMA Awards because a former college classmate was doing a running commentary on facebook. It took me about 7 or 8 posts to figure out that there was an event and it was the VMAs.

    Perhaps I should do a post about not following pop culture one day. I know about things but have not seen them.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to NewDealer
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      says:

      Having red the Jezebel article, I am just going to retreat into my head and wish I lived in a world where more people cared about culture above pop culture. This seems like a Much Ado About Nothing.

      Keeping in mind a friend recently said I was from “the same bygone era” as her parents for caring about more than pop culture and being culturally literate.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Shouldn’t cultural literacy include knowing about current culture even if the quality is lacking?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        “Cultural literacy” sounds like it’d be important until you realize that it entails watching the Kardashians, Honey Boo Boo, and Sharknado.

        Cultural illiteracy strikes me as something worth aspiring to.

        Imagine: Standing in line at the grocery store and looking at the tabloids and saying “I have no idea who these people are.”Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Jay, that happens to me all the time.Report

      • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        @jaybird That’s one of the myriad reasons I never watch the VMAs. Why would I want to watch the obnoxious behavior of people I don’t even recognize (for the most part)? That so many of them are of questionable talent only makes it worse.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        I think cultural literacy means in this case that I can recognize a Shostakovich symphony and know about what usually gets called “high-culture” instead of TV.

        This sort of reminds me of conversations from law school. People would say that they wanted to do more pleasure reading but that made them feel “guilty”. A lot of people said that they felt if they had the energy to read, they should be studying.

        However, I would hear a lot of chatter about TV shows.

        It should not be that radical to find that a person can replace an hour or two of TV before bed with an hour or two of reading.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        ND, I can kind of see why people might feel guilty over pleasure reading when they are engaged in serious studies. Law requires really in depth reading and that could be rather time consuming. Taking sometime to pleasure read might feel like some people are cheating on their law books. Watching TV is an entirely different action, so it feels less like cheating on their law books.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Me too. Though we all have stuff we know for less than good reasons. I was talking with someone yesterday who used to hike the Appalachian Trail, and when I made a joke based on the same thing that just popped into the mind of everyone who reads this site, she had no idea what I meant.Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Maybe this is just my geek flag flying, but honestly I think we need to abandon the idea of mass culture entirely.

        After all, it was just a 20th Century fad really, mass media made it possible, and now as broadcasts give way to narrowcasts its window is closing. The stars are no longer aligned and it must once again sleep beneath the ocean. Why don’t we all just pay attention to the cultural output that interests us and ignore everything else, life is so much better that way.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Jay,
        Hmph. Cultural literacy involves knowing enough about Honey Boo Boo to get the jokes about Honey Boo Boo. Ditto Schoenberg.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Yeah what James K said is quite salient here.
        As Woodie Allen stated:
        “The whole country was tied together by radio. We all experienced the same heroes and comedians and singers. They were giants.”
        North adds the corralary:
        “And probably half or more of their fans only listened to them for lack of anything better to listen to.”Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer
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        says:

        Dickens and Mark Twain disagree.Report

  8. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    Protip: Avoid trying to drive spikes into your eyes while your eyebrows are on fire. The smoke will be too distracting.Report

  9. Avatar trizzlor
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    says:

    Like others here, I couldn’t get through more than 15 seconds of the video, but I loved the cut to a painfully bored Drake scrolling through his cell-phone. I just assumed that at his level of celebrity one of the perks is that you never again have to turn to some crappy game on your phone to escape boredom; and it’s nice to know that in some small way mega-celebrities are still just like us.

    As for Miley, keep in mind that this is the same singer who – when asked about the line in her smash hit “Party in the USA” where she croons about the joy of listening to a Jay-Z song – openly stated that she’s never listened to Jay-Z, that someone wrote the song and music for her clothing line, and that it’s just a weird coincidence that the song somehow became popular outside of it’s marketing context. Unlike the 90’s generation of teenie-boppers that were, at heart, still a mechanism for selling sugary pop songs; Miley is a brand that has divorced herself from the music experience entirely. She is, in some sense, just a mechanism for selling her brand – with no actual underlying product.Report

  10. Avatar Vikram Bath
    Ignored
    says:

    What if every incremental word on this that gets written was exactly her plan from the get go?Report

  11. Avatar Sam
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    says:

    Russell,

    Due respect, of course, but this is what us olds do when those damned kids start doing…things. Ominous, scary, different things. Whether it’s freaking out about Elvis – “But he’s thrusting! THRUSTING?!?” – or Madonna – “That’s a wedding dress she’s writhing around in!” – or Justin Timberlake – “A breast! A lady woman breast! A LITTLE BIT OF A LADY WOMAN BREAST ON TELEVISION!?!?” – or anybody else, it’s still old people having the vapors because a young person did something allegedly scandalous and allegedly different.

    In Cyrus’s case especially, making a break from the Disney career that she will forever be associated with is probably something she value(s/d) doing. The stories about Disney’s treatment of its child stars, especially behind the scenes, are enough to make it clear that the company is there to wring every last dollar out of those youths until there ain’t another dollar to be wrung. Then? The scrap pile. Cyrus clearly wanted distance from that world; this was one very quick and very effective method of achieving that.

    And that’s before we get into what she was supposed to do instead? Is a more acceptable lot in life spending her time making us 30- and 40- and 50-year-olds happy? To spend her time making decisions that we approve of? Why does she owe us that? Because we demand it? Because we’ve come to believe that the things we value are now the things today’s youth should value? Because we’ve turned into the adults that we maybe kind of once thought of as being squares and lames and losers and whatever other terms we used?

    Ultimately, I just don’t understand the neverending back-and-forth about what today’s pop sensations are doing with themselves. We’re now at least what, 60 years into these sorts of cultural meltdowns and what, if anything, has changed? Rebellion is still rebellion, and it only works if a bunch of lame adults don’t approve. If she comes out in a cardigan, sings “America the Beautiful”, does the box-step, stops at church on her way home, and gets in bed by 8:30, then it isn’t really a rebellion, is it?

    This isn’t to say that I disagree with your observation that sex seems to be the fastest mechanism to rebel, but then, maybe sex has always been the fastest mechanism of rebellion. After all, Elvis and Madonna and Timberlake were all trading on precisely the same cultural taboo, and in doing so, gave precisely the same people precisely the same vapors about something that was precisely as important.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Sam
      Ignored
      says:

      Again, Sam, my objection isn’t so much that Miley’s act was so overtly sexual. It’s that there seem to be different expectations for how young female performers (mostly in the music biz) keep our attention and how male ones do.

      I think it says something that the (much older) male singer, whose song is all about sex, got to keep all his clothes on, but the young woman miming sexual acts with him took most of hers off. You mention Justin Timberlake, a performer of the same generation as Britney Spears (though with much more talent), and we’ve seen a lot more of her skin in performances at the VMAs than his.

      Why?Report

      • Avatar Sam in reply to Russell Saunders
        Ignored
        says:

        Because our society is broken when it comes to dealing with girls, women, and girls turning into women?

        But also because there isn’t another model for girls to turn into women, especially within that sort of pop music. Sex is what does it, something that’s been true since…what, the 1980s at least? Maybe there are earlier examples that I’m blanking on, but sex sells, sex titillates, sex moves the needle. Look at the fact that everybody discussed a performance on an award show on a network nobody even cares about anymore. Cyrus accomplished precisely what she wanted to.

        And again – what else could she have done?Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Russell Saunders
        Ignored
        says:

        Sam,
        Femme Fatale ring any bells?Report

  12. Avatar Murali
    Ignored
    says:

    Russell, what would you think of this?Report

  13. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve stayed out of this thread because, frankly, I just don’t give a damn, but I came across Marc Randaza’s post on the subject and found it…just so on point.

    http://randazza.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/miley-cyrus/

    Linked it because there is lots of profanity. Well said Marc.Report

    • Avatar Russell Saunders in reply to Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      Meh. Pop culture exists. Mass media exists. People consume it, people react to it, people comment on it.

      It’s all very well to be smug that one doesn’t, but that doesn’t really mean that one is actually any better or smarter.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to Russell Saunders
        Ignored
        says:

        True enough. I just find the all consuming-ness of it tedious.

        I actually play a game with myself often. Whenever something like this Miley thing comes up, I actively steer clear of any news/info regarding the subject as long as I can. (That means changing the channel on tv or radio and not disucssing the topic). Then a bit later, maybe a week, I compare notes with folks who follow this topic. It’s amazing how current I am. One conclusion: I need to tighen my game. 🙂Report

  14. Avatar Brandon Berg
    Ignored
    says:

    Russell, Russell, Russell.

    Russell.

    You’re gay. I get it, and I have no problem with it. I think it’s great. More women for me.

    But so help me God, if you’re going to go around telling women to put their clothes back on, there can be no peace between us.Report

  15. Avatar Jeff Lipton
    Ignored
    says:

    This is probably relevant:

    7 Reasons Child Stars Go Crazy

    Most of these almost certainly go double for Disney stars.Report

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