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Pop Culture 2013: Twerkgate VS Lily Allen’s Baggy Pussy

In the annals of popular culture, 2013 will undoubtedly go down as the year of Miley. While musicians such as Lorde, Macklemore, Imagine Dragons, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé impressed on the solitary basis of their music, Miley Cyrus instead chose to ignite a vitriolic firestorm of criticism that would cement her as a beacon of ubiquity in the media spotlight.

In her continuing quest to burn the remnants of her Disney darling alter ego Hannah Montana and solidify her ascent into adulthood, Miley Cyrus planned and executed an all-out sexual assault on the senses that has been permanently etched in the minds of all those who were subject to its repugnancy.

The year of Miley first began in June with the release of the music video for the first single (‘We Can’t Stop’) off her latest album Bangerz. The bizarre and unconventional video (which includes making out with dolls, a weird fascination with tongues, and the now infamous twerking) drew mixed reactions from critics, with some praising its originality and celebration of freedom, and others dismissing its desperation and outrageousness. The palpable sexualisation within the video led critic Dewan Gibson to compare Miley’s evolution to that of Janet Jackson’s iconic maturation from innocent teen pop star to an independent sexual woman.

This would only be the beginning in the notorious Miley saga however, and the journey towards mature independent woman soon developed into one of sleaziness, depravity, and poor musicianship, leaving the world with a hollow-shelled ‘attention whore’ who pervades every facet of popular culture.

The event that solidified the metamorphosis of Miley Cyrus and that will no doubt remain the defining moment of the pop star’s young career, was her performance alongside ‘Blurred Lines’ crooner Robin Thicke at the Video Music Awards. The image of the 20 year old singer (still remembered by many as a Disney icon and heroine to young girls everywhere) grinding and twerking alongside a married 36 year old man sent shockwaves across the audience and social media. It became the most-tweeted about event in history, averaging 360,000 tweets per minute. It also led to an unforgettable GIF-worthy reaction by the Smith family (particularly that of teenagers Willow and Jaden) that epitomised the ideal of family wholesomeness being challenged by blatant sexuality.

The artistry of performance was also challenged that night, as Miley failed to defend her sexualised antics with any semblance of musical ability or prowess of performance. Combined with Miley’s traumatising handling of the beloved foam finger as well as the incessant ‘chicken butt’ meme’s that followed in the wake of the event, the performance will be forever remembered as a defining moment in popular culture.

Miley Cyrus continued her path of shock and provocation with the release of the music video for subsequent single ‘Wrecking Ball.’ Directed by famed photographer Terry Richardson, the video portrayed a nude Miley riding on a wrecking ball and making unrequited love to a sledgehammer (as you do when heartbroken). The song became Miley’s first to reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100, affirming the notion that her attention-seeking behaviour was paying dividends on the market. Writing for Forbes, Scott Davis opinioned that “you can call Miley Cyrus a lot of things after her bizarre 2013, but poor, uneventful and un-newsworthy aren’t some of them. In one of the most calculated exercises in Marketing 101, Cyrus schooled major brands by understanding that it is not just about becoming the dialog, but orchestrating it and the ecosystem that surrounds it.”

And it seems as though Miley plans to continue pining for attention in the coming year. After smoking weed at MTV Europe Awards in Amsterdam last month, and romping around with no pants alongside Santa, the celebrity has recently released the music video for song ‘Adore You,’ which can only be described as a one-woman show celebrating the time-honoured celebrity tradition of sex tapes and public masturbation.

While Miley Cyrus may have been contributing to the degradation of women everywhere with her lascivious antics, other singers took it upon themselves to highlight the inequity of gendered perceptions, and as true musicians do, they did so through their music.

Lily Allen’s return to the music world could not have come at a more opportune time. With sarcastic and witty lyricism in full force, the appropriately entitled ‘Hard Out Here’ (Allen’s first single since 2009) offers thought-provoking social commentary on the subjugation of women, particularly within the music industry:

 

“Don’t you want to have somebody who objectifies you?

Have you thought about your butt? Who’s gonna tear it in two?

We’ve never had it so good, uh-huh, we’re out of the woods

And if you can’t detect the sarcasm, you’ve misunderstood”

 

Calling Allen the “ambassador for social critique” Lewis Corner of Digital Spy Blog praised the significance of the song, and suggested that the singer “wasn’t going to let 2013 end without having her say on the current objectification of women in pop — and that includes poking fun at that twerking malarkey”.

The accompanying music video of the song is a similarly scathing attack on the industry that seeks to perpetuate man’s dominance over woman. The video depicts all the characteristic landmarks of modern pop music videos, from autotune and product placement to the ubiquitous twerking malady of our generation; yet, it is the acerbic lyrics that play over these hallmarks of pop culture that allows Allen to get her message across. Both savage and savvy, Allen dismantles the double standards evident within pop music, singing:  ”If I told you bout my sex life, you’d call me a slut, when boys be talkin’ bout their bitches, no one’s making a fuss.”

Described by Allen herself as “a light-hearted satirical video that deals with objectification of women within modern pop culture,” the song has been interpreted by many as a parody of Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance. While it may be mocking Miley, and others like her, the video also makes reference to the double standard evident in the aftermath of Miley’s infamous performance. Though Miley performed with Robin Thicke, it was the former who received an unfair proportion of the criticism and ridicule. The fact that a married thirty six year old man would enable such a salacious performance to occur, even if he did not plan it himself, was a rare topic of discussion within the vicious confines of media backlash that ensued.

Allen satirises this concept, and Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ video, in her own clip with silver balloons spelling out ‘LILY ALLEN HAS A BAGGY PUSSY’. While the correlative ‘ROBIN THICKE HAS A BIG D’ professes masculine arrogance, Allen is instead confessing to the realities of life and motherhood; in so doing she is challenging gendered double standards by providing the female perspective on the stature of genitalia.

In her song, Allen insightfully alludes to the idea that “inequality promises that it’s here to stay, always trust the injustice ’cause it’s not going away.” The actions of Miley Cyrus and others like her only cement this unjust truth, further perpetuating the concept of female oppression and sexualisation at the hands of men.

Though 2013 belonged largely to the sexual antics of Miley Cyrus and her pop contemporaries, Lily Allen has left us with a contemplative message of advice about the evils of double standards and the inequality it preserves: “forget your balls and grow a pair of tits… it’s hard out here for a bitch.” 

About Fabrice Wilmann

Fabrice Wilmann checking in. Third year Arts student majoring in French and Literature, with aspirations of one day becoming a book editor. My main literary interests at the moment include historical novels (Hilary Mantel) and autobiographies (ranging from Sarah Palin to Rafael Nadal). I find that television is the most cathartic tool in the world, and my ever-expanding collection includes Dark Angel, Buffy, Friends, Orphan Black, and classic Simpsons (to name a few). I detest the state of Australian politics, but find solace and entertainment in our American counterparts (though this may be attributed to TV series Veep, Scandal, and Political Animals).

Tags : Sex
Fabrice Wilmann

The author Fabrice Wilmann

Fabrice Wilmann checking in. Third year Arts student majoring in French and Literature, with aspirations of one day becoming a book editor. My main literary interests at the moment include historical novels (Hilary Mantel) and autobiographies (ranging from Sarah Palin to Rafael Nadal). I find that television is the most cathartic tool in the world, and my ever-expanding collection includes Dark Angel, Buffy, Friends, Orphan Black, and classic Simpsons (to name a few). I detest the state of Australian politics, but find solace and entertainment in our American counterparts (though this may be attributed to TV series Veep, Scandal, and Political Animals).

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