a, Arts & Entertainment

Miley Cyrus—inspiration or abomination?

Despite her hit songís title, Miley should stop

Fan or not, you’ve heard of Miley Cyrus. The former Disney darling has, for the past few years, gone to greater and greater lengths to shed her Hannah Montana past. Now that the staggering transformation of her image is complete, the question becomes, how far will she go? The fact that the media was up in arms over a 2008 Vanity Fair photo shoot, which featured Cyrus wearing nothing but a bed sheet, seems almost laughable now, considering her latest performance at the VMAs and new video for the single ìWrecking Ball,î which features her wearing nothing but a pair of boots.

Recently, Sinead OíConnor wrote a series of open letters to Cyrus, the first of which expressed concern ìin the spirit of motherliness,î and the rest of which reacted harshly to Cyrusís insensitive and dismissive tweets in response, mocking OíConnor for her history of mental illness. Perhaps itís charitable of OíConnor to assume Cyrus is simply naÔve and being controlled by her management, but unfortunately, the pop starís intentions donít count for much. She may be dancing on stage in a flesh-coloured bikini trying to convey that she doesnít care what people think of her and that girls should be sexually empowered; but it becomes irrelevant if what people actually see is a former child star trying desperately to keep her look fresh and shocking enough to stay relevant, while promoting misogynist and borderline racist practices in the process.

Cyrusí cultural appropriation of ëratchetí culture is nothing new, certainly. White artists have been doing this for years, but that in no way excuses her doing it now. Cyrus has admitted that she wants her new album to have a ìblack sound,î and appears to use her back-up dancers almost as props to help her achieve this ëratchetí vibe. I agree that itís unfair for anyone to diminish the talent of these dancers by saying they were hired for merely having the ëright look,í but their roles in Cyrusí performances scream objectification.

Cyrus has also been the target of criticism for her skimpy wardrobe, as well as her provocative performance with Robin Thicke at this year’s VMAs. It’s problematic that the so-called music industry is set up for young women to be valued for sex appeal over musical talent in terms of business strategy in the first place, but it also sends a veritable tidal wave of dangerous messages to today’s youth. Cyrus being so successful and constantly talked about makes it abundantly clear that this strategy may well work that a woman’s body is more important than her talent or what she has to say but at what cost? Cyrus seems to teach other young women that they should value themselves primarily upon their looks, or how many men they can attract, and to teach young men that women are to be seen first and foremost as sexual beings if we’re being generous or as objects if we’re not. Regardless of Cyrus current awareness of these issues, they simply cannot continue to be ignored. She is seriously in need of a reality check or an education, and though Sinead O’Connor couldn’t get the job done, she needs to get one or the other sometime soon.

 – Jacqueline Gailbraith


Don’t hate Miley is twerking all the way to the bank

I’m Miley Cyrus/I’m Miley Cyrus, I raps viral hip-hop artist Lil B, on Miley Cyrus.î Released in the singer’s ìParty in the U.S.A. days, the absurd song references an unbelievable career arc: a former Hannah Montana making a sextuple platinum single, all while finishing up her contract with Disney.

Now it’s 2013, and Miley Cyrus is still famous. She can sing, decently, but that’s not the reason she’s on the cover of Rolling Stone. It’s a different feature of the pop starlet that attracts magazine editors, rappers such as Pharrell and Kanye West, and hitmakers like Mike WiLL Made It, to work with her.

I think whether a reader relates to a cover star is not always the point, says Harper’s Bazaar executive director Laura Brown. They just need to find her interesting. And Miley, at this point in her life, certainly is.

Whether you’re a Miley fan or not, she is the girl of the moment, said Cori Murray, entertainment director at Essence magazine, in an interview with the Associated Press. Business is business. [Rappers are] in the music business; she’s the girl of the moment, so why not get on record with the girl of the moment? That’s as basic as it’s going to get.

In fact, without Cyrus marketing strategy, she wouldn’t even be mentioned in The McGill Tribune. But after a controversial performance at the MTV  Video Music Awards (VMAs), and increasingly risquè publicity stunts, Miley is filling a gap. On her latest album, Bangerz, the only other female singer featured is pop icon Britney Spears. The fact that Miley sees the Princess of Pop as an inspiration is telling. Both have an overall brilliant market strategy; Miley’s package consists of an MTV documentary, an album release, and talked-aboutíperformances performances that not only attract television viewership, but also reach a YouTube audience. Current single We Can’t Stop garnered a record-breaking 10.7 million views within 24 hours of its release, and now approaches a total of 225 million.

Allegations of cultural appropriation have some truth to them, but are misguided overall. At the VMAs, Cyrus performed with R&B singers Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke, but all three are appropriators. In fact, Thicke is now preemptively suing legendary black singer Marvin Gaye’s family after they rejected a six-figure settlement offer, and hopes for a ruling that summer hit ìBlurred Lines does not infringe on Gaye’s Got to Give It Up. But criticism of Blurred Lines is focused on accusations of misogyny, not exploiting black culture. The tone of this backlash is even more surprising considering many of the critics accusing Thicke of misogyny are the ones calling Cyrus promiscuous. You could accuse the late Elvis Presley of exploiting a genre that came before him, but in the end, ìMoney ain’t nothing but money when you get to the money, ain’t nothing but money,î as Cyrus claims on ìLove Money Party.î To have such a comeback, Miley has to be doing something right.

– Will Burgess 

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