Posted by: gdevi | September 11, 2013

A Teen Wreck

Have you heard? The world is abuzz with the news that Miley Cyrus has decided to shed her Hannah Montana image and swing on a wrecking ball, naked. I was at the YouTube site trying to find a video clip for my class of the old Cecil B. DeMille version of “The Ten Commandments.” We are reading “Exodus” in my Core Texts class, and I wanted to show my students God parting the Red Sea for Moses-special effects before the age of CGIs-when the website insisted that I watch the new Miley Cyrus music video called “Wrecking Ball.” It has had over 50 million views so far. That is more than the population of certain nations.

It is so important to be in touch with pop culture; I watched the thing. I am a 48-year-old woman, so my interest in seeing naked 20-year-olds swinging on a wrecking ball is zero to none.

The last time I saw Miley Cyrus was in “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” where Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus was going through severe angst and identity crisis, which are figured out when she visits country folks down in Crowley Meadows, Tennessee. See, that LA pop star thing was bothering Miley Cyrus even back then.

But the country folks told her, aw, that is okay, we love ya, with or without your blonde wig. Go ahead; put your wig back on. But country love did not bring Miley Cyrus name and fame, which is where the nude swinging on a wrecking ball comes in.

I know nothing about Terry Richardson, the photographer and videographer – the concept guy – who has directed this music video, but he must be something else, because he got Miley Cyrus, a barely 20-year-old to perform fellatio on a sledgehammer for this music video.

Yes, that is right. Miley Cyrus swings back and forth on the eponymous wrecking ball, first in white underwear, then without any clothes on, and finally moves on to licking and wrapping her mouth around a sledgehammer. You didn’t know those implements in your tool shed had this porn potential to them, did you?

The Yorkshire Ripper had used a sledgehammer to smash open the skulls of prostitutes that he had murdered. Maxwell used to bring down his silver hammer bang bang on people’s heads to make sure that they were dead.

And now we have Miley Cyrus sucking on a sledgehammer while a wrecking ball totally wrecks the four walls around her, and she slaps herself across the face multiple times, and in one quick pornographic move, touches her own behind. Sledge-hammer is a metaphor for the penis, to be sure. Peter Gabriel wanted to smash your fruitcake or something with it, remember? Miley Cyrus loves, literally loves the sledgehammer, enough to start oral sex with it. Sometimes, don’t you wish you could just say “Beam me up, Scotty” and move to some other planet?

But all of this, alas, is for nothing. The pathetic thing about this music video is that even with her clothes off, and swinging on a wrecking ball and sucking a sledgehammer, etc., Miley Cyrus is not remotely sexually interesting. There is nothing erotic, sensual or even pornographic about this video. It is so ineffective that it is baffling why it was made.

The song is not good either. The premise of the song is that the singer wanted someone terribly urgently that she “came in like a wrecking ball,” but wouldn’t you know it, he “wrecked her,” instead of “she” wrecking “him” – the standard admission in all pop love songs. Men and women just love being “wrecked.” The more they are “wrecked,” the more they love their wreckers.

Peter Gabriel had smashed somebody’s fruitcake with his sledgehammer, and had tried to make it sound like having sex was as epochal as the French Revolution. If you are English and into fusion music that is what you do, I guess. But Miley Cyrus is still the down home country girl from Crowley Meadows, Tennessee, and the sledgehammer sucking, the white underwear, and the stripping are not working. It feels completely pointless. The song’s arrangement sounds suspiciously like a ripped-off version of a song by the group called Gotye: “You’re just somebody that I used to know.”

Besides, there is something about the word “wreck” that makes you immediately want to call those big yellow Caterpillar excavators and have them scoop out all the rubbish away and to the landfill. I felt that way throughout the entire song – call the Caterpillar guys! Call the demolition team!

Naturally, the big question in all the media blitz about this music video, since pop culture is loaded with conscience – I checked this out as well – is whether this swinging nude on the wrecking ball and sucking on a sledgehammer are acts of female empowerment.

As you know, you don’t look for female empowerment in Disney. That is where Terry Richardson comes in with his sledgehammer and wrecking ball. The woman is armed and dangerous, but also not really, because she takes off her clothes and sucks on the sledgehammer and says, “I should have let you win.”

See, Terry Richardson and Miley Cyrus know what makes pop culture tick. They are going to have it both ways. At the bottom of it all, they want the woman to suck on the sledgehammer.

So, is this all female empowerment? I don’t know. My considered opinion is that it is not. Women have been taking their clothes off for such a long time now in American popular culture that I don’t think there is any semiotic gravity to a naked woman on a wrecking ball sucking on a sledgehammer.

Besides, the naked woman on a wrecking ball or sucking on a sledgehammer, etc., feels like she was co-opted from porn films that stop short of being real porn. Terry Richardson is not a very good music video director; that much is clear.

Apart from the 50 million views or something on YouTube and elsewhere on the web – marketed especially as Miley Cyrus the country girl shedding her Disney image -“Come see Miley Cyrus naked!!!” – I don’t think this album, interestingly titled “Bangerz!” will do anything for Miley Cyrus. It is completely flat. But I know nothing about popular music. So this could win the Nobel Prize; sorry, I mean a Grammy.

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