Awesome. We’re so post-feminist, aren’t we?
So, the charge is that Miley Cyrus has no talent. Because she’s done some provocative things, she is disgusting and shamefully slutty. Unlike so many other female singers
Obviously what Cyrus is doing is just gross and horrible. She gyrates in a fashion similar to sex workers. Heaven knows a woman acting in a provocative manner only happens when the woman has nothing else of value to offer. Because female talent exists separate from sexuality. We likes em sexy, yeah, but not TOO sexy, ya unnerstan? Cuz that’s just eww. A REAL talent doesn’t do things like that. Nope.
(remember this song? The one about a girl who disses her ex because he didn’t propose? Although she was quick to let him know she doesn’t care about money or gifts, she’s not “that kind of girl”)
Next thing you know, Cyrus is grand marshall of the outrage parade again. Her new video, “Wrecking Ball” has NUDITY in it. Actual NUDITY. So I watched it and I didn’t really feel like the smelling salts were necessary. In “Wrecking Ball” Cyrus sings a power ballad -not half bad actually, if you like power ballads – and does her usual sexy posturing and posing. I personally get “pena ajena” during the shots of her licking the sledgehammer but hey that’s me.. I get pena ajena often, actually. Other than that, the video seems to be fairly run-of-the-mill. Just with some nudity. Not that you can SEE it – the nudity – you just know she’s nude. So really? Nothing to get uptight about at all. Rather tame, by my standards.
Then I look at the reactions to “Wrecking Ball”
The comments… dear lord.
Let’s go back. During the 80s when music videos really took off and young people were watching them with the frequency that we now reserve for checking our phones, videos nearly always had posturing and posing of young women in barely dressed fashions. Although there was some talk in the more conservative media with occasional pearl-clutching over hyper-sexualization, no one (besides feminists) ever really got heavily riled about women in music videos when the music was made by men. They only ever (and still) care about women in music videos when its the woman making the music. Now, if you put sexually suggestive MEN in the video, that might get people upset, especially if said men appeared to be objectified.
(Spanish version that has SOME of the original footage)
-that video stirred a hornet’s nest of outrage. (before the internet!) and eventually it was remade without the naked men sitting on the floor. As you probably know (or could guess) it was originally made to poke at the trope of music videos always chock-full of near-naked women. Oddly, this was one time when the charge of “no talent whores!” was not levied. Instead, mention was made of the singer’s sexual appeal (of course) or lack thereof depending on who you were reading. It was even posited that the reason they used near-naked men was because the singer herself was probably ugly. So there you are: if you make yourself sexually appealing, you have no talent. If you don’t bother to be sexy, then you must be ugly and talent doesn’t matter.
But, okay what’s got people all aflutter about Cyrus isn’t whether she is sexually appealing, no, its that she acts sexual. The criticism is that she pushes the envelope in order to make up for lack of talent. Because, the logic goes, if she was talented, she wouldn’t NEED to pose sexually and talented people don’t do that, right?
(I don’t think I need to post ANOTHER video of a talented female musician who acts sexy. Pretty sure you get the drift by now)
It is definitely important to notice that this contradiction is never aimed at male artists. However, think about that… if showing near-naked females in obviously titillating forms translates into a lack of talent then shouldn’t that mean the men who show near-naked females in their videos are also of questionable talent? Watch any two or three heavy metal videos. You’ll probably have 50% of the eye-time devoted to near-naked females posing sexually. Now, if you’re a female musician, obviously there ought to be a lot of camera resting on your female form – after all you are the star – but if you’re male, and you are the star, WHY would you devote even 30% of the video to showing people who do not have anything to do with the making of the song? Isn’t that a way to distract the audience from the fact that you have nothing of value to offer? Yet for all the accusations of Heavy Metal’s unworthiness as a musical genre, the argument of “distraction via sex” during videos was never used. No one has brought up the presence of sexy girls to prove an artists lack of talent. Not during a male artist’s video.
During female musician’s videos, it is brought up all the time. Because regardless of whether a female is talented or not, there is always a contingent convinced that no female can possibly be “successful” in any realm without sexual appeal replacing actual skill and/or talent. Despite the fact that female musicians nearly always promote themselves through sexually suggestive videos. Because that is what we want, what we expect. But sometimes we don’t like it?
Where is the line? Why is it sometimes Okay for a woman to be talented and sexy but not talented and sexual?
Why does sexuality and talent have to be such a battle in our minds? (and of course it isn’t limited to artistic talent/skill whatsoever http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/07/26/who-gets-to-be-a-geek-anyone-who-wants-to-be/)
We don’t seem to have this struggle when it comes to male sexuality and talent…
Many people criticize Robin Thicke’s talent and some criticized his performance during the VMA but no one yet has put the two together and said “Because Thicke postures in a sexually suggestive manner, he clearly has no talent” No one’s even suggested that his need for numerous scantily clad females in his videos (and live performance) is a clear indication of his lack of talent. Hell you’d think just his taste in clothes might garner some suspicion as to his merits.
No, for men, talent is measured by output. Occasionally other aspects of the man will be mentioned but generally that’s to explain or bolster a criticism about their talent/skill alone.
For women, talent can be measured against sexual appeal, money, connections and output. There’s so many ways to denigrate and dismiss a woman’s creative output! You might want to study her output alone but you can add other aspects of her femininity as well! You aren’t limited to JUST criticizing her output, no, you can criticize her output AND her body, weight, face, makeup-job, hair, age, spouse or lover, number of lovers, and most importantly HER CLOTHES. Oh heavens there’s so much to criticize about every creative woman’s clothes.
You think that’s ridiculous? Not true? Has justifications?
One of the Cyrus memes going around showed her butt from the VMA and likened it to a frozen chicken. Because her derriere popped out of the bottom of her obviously inflexible shorts. Shoddy workmanship, I say. Apparently I know nothing of musical talent because her “chicken butt” was reason enough to declare her talentless.
Yes, Miley Cyrus’s artistic merit can be divined by how well her butt fits into her shorts. And her dancing. And hell, why not? Let’s add “her hair” to the mix too.
“Hello, welcome to Sport Talk! Today we’re going over the big game in Idaho. John, the entire game hinged upon the last ten seconds of the game. I’m talking, specifically when Bob Baller fumbled, of course”
“Right you are Terry, Bob Baller has been quarterbacking for the Idaho Potatoheads for barely six months now but its clear that his glory days of college ball are over”
“Too true, John. And of course we all know when this happened…”
“yes, we do, Terry. Here’s a picture of Baller the day of that fateful game”
“OOOOH! Wouldja look at that! Well that seals it. It’s clear that Baller is no athlete”
“I’m afraid not Terry. Its, its just almost disgusting, I can barely look at him”
“I understand John. Unbelievable how this could happen”
“well when you have no talent, Terry, this is what you get. Obviously the owners of the Potatoheads are just looking to make a fast buck off of Baller’s imaginary quarterbacking. I mean, years of practice, years of playing?… clearly Baller never played a football game in his life”
“clearly, John. I mean, just look at that hair. Makes me want to puke”
“Yes, Terry, I think its safe to say that Baller will never be a REAL football player. Not with hair like that. Baller is clearly out of control”