NO ANIMALS WERE SEXUALLY DEGRADED IN THE MAKING OF THIS POST

VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS, 2023

I think we can all agree that Miley Cyrus’ roundly mocked performance at the VMAs was an absurdist horror of epic proportions. The protruding veneers; the slain cow tongue; the arrhythmic hip popping. The random arrival and arse slapping of a woman bearing the proportions of The Hottentot Venus and her subsequent dismissal. Let us not speak of the abused foam finger. It aimed to be provocative but shocked only in its grim lack of artistry and sensuality. This all aligned propitiously to distract us from Miley’s singing, so in one sense it was a great success.

The performance was offensive in its badness but not offensive in the taboo-breaking Madonna-esque fashion Miley is aiming for. Crotch-grabbing, near-nudity and the use of black women as ratchet-props are a longstanding tradition in mainstream culture. They can hardly be said to be avant-guard. What will she do to provoke us in 10 years time? I can hazard a guess.

VMAs 2023- Miley Cyrus and Mr. Twerk make a stand for interspecies love with her new rap 'Prickly Dick'.

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I am pro-nudity. The female form can be glorious and I would say aesthetically powerful in a way the male form is incapable of being. Maybe it is the line of beauty or a sense of mystery. To me, objectification is not inherent in depictions of the naked body but rather a failure on the part of the artist to grant multi-faced, inner life to the subject. Initially, I was a surprised about the furore over ‘Blurred Lines’. There are songs with more powerfully degrading lyrics, videos with more overt sexuality and a degree of playfulness in its execution that toed the line between exploitation and the tongue-in-cheek.

None of these subtleties were addressed by Robin Thicke when he responded to criticism with the following:

"People say, 'Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?' I'm like, 'Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I've never gotten to do that before. I've always respected women.'"

Either his surname is exceptionally accurate or he is making a pitiable witticism. Whichever, it is clear from his reaction that he is completely dismissive of the larger implications of a video that intentionally ‘plays’ on objectification in its aim to titillate and generate hits. How much further will he go to bravely push the pop-culture envelope?

VMAs 2023: Robin Thicke And Nameless Chick with ‘Split Your Throat In Two’, a musical meditation on the post-post-modern blowjob.

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In her latest video, Wrecking Ball, a frequently nude Cyrus straddles and licks an array of phallic demolition equipment in the name of love. I like both the song and the concept of the video- she has never looked better. Because where Wrecking Ball, directed by Terry Richardson, really comes into its own is in the editing. It is cut so as not to allow full rein to Miley’s natural inclination to contort her face into a gurning parody of adult sexuality. He allows her only a few restrained licks and the floppy appendage never reaches its gruesome full potential. The swinging movement of the eponymous ball to which her splayed legs cling grants her a natural undulation. Thus, her usual graceless humping is rendered unnecessary. This lifts the song from the pits of artistic despair her VMA performance reached, true. But I fear a swath of tween girls contracting tetanus from licking their jagged playground equipment as they ape their idol.

I am anti-censorship. However, the ever-moving line of what is acceptable in music videos and the easy access to porn that young people have is very troublesome. A recent NSPCC study revealed that ‘28% of 11-18 year olds said online pornography dictates how they should behave in a relationship and 36% said they get their information about sex from pornography’. We should all at the very least hold ourselves responsible for the content we put into the world. At what point are we empowered women exploring our sexuality and at what point are we indoctrinated sexbots exploited by commercial industries? I cannot fully answer this myself. Can an 11-year-old?

 Bisous,

E