Miley Cyrus. Now there’s a name that represents some of the most controversial topics that circulate the media. From her “shedding her Disney star status” to her VMA performance with Robin Thicke, her name (and her actions) seem to constantly be on the tip of everyone’s tongues. In fact, redheadfem, bestlittlelion92, and imagineherstory have all used Miley Cyrus as a topic of discussion/debate in recent posts. So why is it that “we can’t stop” talking about Miley?
Perhaps it’s because her recent media stunts are forcing us to really evaluate our stances on public sexuality.
I recently came across an article online arguing that Miley Cyrus was a “marketing mastermind“. The argument was that the goal of marketing is to create a brand.
“Miley Cyrus is a brand, and these days you can’t go on any social network or entertainment news site without seeing the mention of Miley. She is in the minds of her target audience, and has been there prominently since her VMA performance with Robin Thicke. While it seems she is getting a great deal of negative press, there are still many who believe in Miley and what she’s doing” – Courtney Christman
You can barley leave your house without seeing Miley Cyrus. She dominates Facebook, Twitter, TV, radio, magazines, conversations… she’s literally everywhere. Or should we say, her brand is.
Imagineherstory brought up a very interesting question about the separation of self-expression and self-objectification and like she said, it’s mostly “deciding between the right shades of grey”. And I feel like that’s my exact stance on Miley Cyrus: one big ‘ol shade of grey.
I think it would be foolish to ignore the fact that she is indeed a brand. Miley Cyrus is a brand. And that’s where some of her trouble (and perhaps all other female artist’s) may lie. Because she is both an artist and a brand, it becomes quite challenging to separate the the two. She is both a person and an object.
This then just further complicates the question of whether she is doing what she’s doing for Miley the person, or Miley the brand. Or maybe a little bit of both.
Courtney Christman points out that Miley is defining her sexuality instead of letting others do it for her. She took it upon herself to expose her sexual side and to “demean” herself, but it was her choice to reveal her sexuality. And just like I argued in my most recent post, “You Don’t Need to Take Sex Out of Advertising“, if it was in fact her choice, “was she actually demeaning herself or simply accepting that the world views women as sexual objects?”
“In her music video, “Wrecking Ball”, she literally takes a wrecking ball and sledgehammer to the standards of society. She is no longer conforming to the ideas of others, but taking charge of how she uses sex to sell. She physically and metaphorically crashes into the concept that women don’t have a choice in being sex objects.
Miley is challenging what feminism is all about. She is bringing us into a new wave of feminist marketing. A wave where we (women) welcome being seen in a sexual way, as long as we are portrayed in a strong, confident manner. Strong and sexy; does it get any better than that?
Is Miley Cyrus leading us into the next wave of feminism? A wave where women appreciate their sexuality…” – Courtney Christman
I thought these were extremely strong arguments and I believe they’re right on point… for Miley the person.
But my questioning then comes from Miley the brand. I’m all on board for embracing sexuality and being the strong female when it comes to sex in the media, but a crucial part of her argument, was that Miley was “taking charge of how she uses sex to sell”.
By making herself into her brand, as opposed to brands simply using females and sex in advertising (there is no female we can identify as Dolce & Gabbana), Miley is “blurring the lines” between exactly what imagineherstory was talking about: self-expression and self-objectification. But when you literally are both a brand and a person, is it even really possible to separate the two?
“Even though majority of the comments were negative about the [VMA] performance calling it degrading and embarrassing, it did exactly what she wanted it to, created buzz about her and her upcoming album. After watching her documentary, “Miley: The Movement”, it became clear that the VMA performance was a well oiled routine of debauchery and there were no mistakes; she knew exactly what she was ‘twerking’ on.” – sophieinwonderland99
Her VMA performance generated 360,000 tweets per minute. Her Wrecking Ball music video became the most watched video in 24 hours on VEVO. And Bangerz is number one on Billboard’s top 200.
It seems to me that she’s “embracing” it less for herself and more for the sales. But hey, you decide.
Personally, I believe that her actions, while on the right sort of track, are taking feminism in the wrong direction because of the underlying motives. We need to be strong and sexy in our own ways for us. Not to become famous or to sell albums. Yes, Miley is 100% a marketing genius, there’s no denying that. But there is a difference between embracement and exploitation.
“This isn’t some mess. This is all thought out in my mind. Every decision goes into a bigger plan. It’s part of a movement… the movement needs to be bigger than the record. It represents taking over the world.” – Miley Cyrus
Miley’s “movement”: a feminist and social constructs revolution… or just a ploy to generate sales? You tell me.