Tuesday, September 10, 2013

And now for something completely different

So, I often go out to Fox News.com to find out what the other side is saying. And the funny thing about Fox News is that many of their stories follow with the British model of titillating and tantalizing rather than impartially informing and educating.

With the whole brouhaha surrounding the Miley Cyrus appearance at some MTV awards show, her name's been hitting the Fox site quite often. I guess she has a new video coming out that is quite, well, racy. Haven't watched it. Don't think I will. However, I read the article about the video and there are a lot of media analysts out there who focus their criticism on how the video does so much to further the myth that the only way to be successful as a female is to do so through sexual presentation and etc., etc.

Yeah, I agree with a lot of what is being said. From the images on the Fox site and the description of the video, I'm sure it does pander to the lowest common denominator and all. But the thing that bothers me about all this discussion is that it's focused on Miley and how she is doing everything in her power to break away from her former Disney self. However, do these commentators really believe that Miley Cyrus has much, if any, input into how she is packaged? Did Miley dream up the treatment for this latest video? (Which, it should be noted, has taken the record for the most views in a 24 hour period of any video in the history of Vevo- which, well, isn't YouTube). Was she the director of the video? Going further? Did she choreograph her MTV appearance?

She's what, 20? I could forgive a 20 year old for confusing being shocking with being tasteless. Particularly someone whose been sheltered by the entertainment industry for the bulk of her life. The frame of reference is not there for most 20 year olds. Even less so for entertainers. The thing is, she's not the architect of her current packaging. Like any pop star, she's surrounded by a cadre of handlers, marketers, and record company execs who are responsible for how she is being packaged and presented to the world.

Our collective outrage over the fact that this young woman is being overtly sexualized to sell a product should be directed at these folks rather than Miley on the whole. Yes, she can make the choice to push back, but really, does anyone in the pop-entertainment world really have a say in how their image/body/voice is used? The issue is deeper than gender representation. It comes down to the fact that pop stars seem to sign over all rights to determine how they are presented - their managers and handlers get to make the determination, always with the admonishment that "if you don't do X your career is over." Yet when X backfires, the backlash is directed not at the managers and handlers and architects, but at the pop star him or herself.

Pop stars are products and each of us are responsible for the way in which they are packaged. When we view a video, read a news story, buy an album - we are stating that this is what we want in our pop stars.

And in this case, what about her father? Someone who knows the terrain of the pop world? Shouldn't he be providing some kind of support and guidance? Yeah, I know kids don't listen to their parents. But the thing is that they do. Has anyone told this product that "hey, you don't have to do these things. You can break from the Disney image without turning into a cartoon of yourself. You can sell records without controversy?

Why are these the things that come into my head when I'm riding my bike? I don't know. Probably best to not dig too deep into it.

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