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Well, she did it. Miley Cyrus has made her obligatory “I’m not a little Disney girl anymore” video. (Vimeo doesn’t allow the video to be shown on outside sites)
I watched it. I shamelessly admit the song is catchy, like her other non-Hannah Montana songs. She is coming dangerously close to “coming soon to a MRT” status. Dammit. As Sady and Amanda said at Tiger Beatdown, if she doesn’t want to wear pants, they can’t make her wear pants, or something to that effect that I agree with (down with pants!). Apologies for the loose paraphrase…it was hilarious.
This video is not some new concept. I liked it, but this coming of age idea was already done by plenty of formerly squeaky clean Disney kids before her who just had to say OOPS I AM NOT A KID!, I AM IN FACT A SEXUAL BEING! This is not a criticism of Miley Cyrus. I embrace the letting go of the Hannah Montana personae, and we have to know that eventually girls are going to become young women and that they are going to embrace and explore their sexuality, whether they are celebrities or not. And in the off chance that they are celebrities, they are probably going to do some of that a little bit publicly. I can’t help but notice that teen girls seem to need to emphasize this in their careers more so than teen boys. I don’t really remember Justin Timberlake making a sooper sexxay video out of nowhere and spouting his new found freedom to not wear pants.
I find it telling, also that a young woman breaking into the mainstream industry feels pressured to go from squeaky clean girl, AKA Disney Mouskateer, to sex symbol a la Christina Aguilera’s shift from her self named album to “Stripped”. One side of the coin we have the girl with the unique voice, the one who could hit the high note above C, who sang the theme from Mulan, and then we have her splashing around in chaps and getting dirrty! Not that either of those are notably bad. I, as a matter of fact, am a huge fan of both of those albums. Her vocals amaze me to this day, and shamefully I have not invested more money into updating my inventory (this is an ongoing project, there is just too much good music out there for me to keep up with and my taste is so varied!). But the point is, that as a woman in the pop industry moves up in her fame it seems that sex appeal is demanded, or at least that the pressure is there. The conventional beauty privilege is there among these women, and I can’t hardly fault them for playing the game.
So back to Cyrus. I am not surprised at all that she has taken this step, and to follow with her cliché, spread her wings in a most literal way. She has done what she has decided she needed to do to reinvent herself, distancing herself from that image that some parents want to push on their children. DON’T BE A BIT SLUT LIKE THAT BRITNEY GIRL! SEE THAT PRETTY GOD LOVIN’ HANNAH MONTANA! SEE HER! But as she says, “My job isn’t to tell your kids how to act or how not to act, because I’m still figuring that out for myself. So to take that away from me is a bit selfish. Your kids are going to make mistakes whether I do or not. That’s just life.” This is very true. Kids need a secure environment to make their own mistakes, and loving arms to comfort them when they do. No amount of pop culture is going to prevent that from happening.
The bigger truth is, that teen girls are not broken into two categories, Hannah Montanas or Newly Freed Sexxay Pantless Birds. They are teenagers who are young women (I am having trouble with interchanging “girls” and “women” because I am not even sure when I stopped using one and started using the other, and I hope I am not offending anyone) who are defining themselves, their interests, and yes, their sexualities and figuring that all out while discovering how their bodies work through all of this. If some parents are having trouble understanding that teens are sexual beings, I recommend some light reading, or maybe checking out Scarleteen, both are good resources. I wish that growing up in the industry didn’t make it feel as if these were ends of a spectrum as opposed to colors within it.
I feel I should re-emphasize, that I do not find anything wrong with Miley Cyrus performing beauty, performing her sexuality, or any other pop star who does or has done the same. I applaud those who feel comfortable doing so, especially among teens (and more so for those who are open about being safe about their sexual choices as well). If I am not mistaken there was not a straight up hetero-centered message here either, although admittedly I didn’t watch ultra closely. Sexuality is a normal part of growing up, and I know that I have all these wacky notions about teenagers being people and having thoughts and feelings and all, and how they should have rights to explore their sexualities with each other in consenting situation…and that a good number of people will disagree with me.
So, Miley, keep rockin’ with yourself. Please, make more videos. Don’t wear pants if you don’t want to…Ceiling Cat knows I don’t many days. Oh, how I wish that it could be that a young woman could break away from a child like persona in the music industry without feeling that she has to hatch from a shell into her sexuality so publicly.