We’re not smoking salvia anymore.
Historically, Miley Cyrus has always been my gurl. I was totally on board with her goofy, spastic charms in the Hannah Montana heyday. I can put my hands up when they’re playing my song and the butterflies fly away with the best of them. I even think her lispy, husky voice is kind of sexy.
But I think I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. I get it, Miles, you’re cool now, you have a hot bod, you’re tatted and toned and ready to show the world you’re not a little kid anymore.
But you’re not exactly an appealing adult, either.
Seriously, let’s take a look at Miley’s latest music video, the Mike-WiLL-Made-it-produced “We Can’t Stop.” I’ve been gratefully out of the radio loop the past few weeks, so I never even heard this song before checking out the video today. Go on, take a look:
Ah, yes. Another Top 40 hit so lyrically bland it needs an outrageous music video just to make it half-palatable (I swear, if one more song tells me to “put my hands in the air like I just don’t care,” I’m going postal.)
This is the kind of video that reminds us that Miley is not quite as mature as she wants us to believe. The video is a hodgepodge of unrelated and absurd images, which add up to a lame attempt at the avant-garde. In other words, this video is SEWWWW RANDOM, YOU GUYZ!!!1!! OMG LOL! AWKWARD! FUN!
I’m sure there will be other reviews passing it as “self-referential,” or “tongue-in-cheek,” but even if it’s supposed to be, I get the distinct sense that nobody filled Miley in on the joke. This is media-baiting, pure and simple.
But after the fifth time watching “We Can’t Stop” (one day I’ll get a life), I realized it was trying to tell me something. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep getting to me, or maybe it’s the alcohol (that I’m totally NOT drinking, MOM AND DAD), but I’m starting to think…yes…IT IS SENDING A MESSAGE. Look! There are motifs, and metaphors…”We Can’t Stop” isn’t a train wreck of a music video at all! In fact, it is rife with symbolism just DYING to be unpacked.
Let’s take a look at some of these symbols, and see if we can’t decipher what they REALLY mean.
1. Miley’s Butt
In case you weren’t beaten over the head with this information already, MILEY LOVES HER BUTT. It is probably her most favorite thing in the whole world, after her haircut and her inner-wrist tattoo.
Naturally, Miley’s Butt is the protagonist of “We Can’t Stop,” with a life all its own. Just look at it:
No, really, LOOK AT IT:
I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE NOT REALLY LOOKING AT MILEY’S BUTT. ARE YOU LOOKING AT MILEY’S BUTT??!
LOOK. AT. HER. BUTT.
SHE HAS SUCH A BUTT, YOU GUYS.
Dude. Remember when the world got all up in a bunghole over that Annie Leibovitz portrait that showed Miley’s bare back?
How the times have changed. Now we’d be lucky to NOT see her back side, just for like, ONE second of the day.
Miley’s Butt, like many butts, represents her plump and smackable sexuality. It also represents religion, which is why she keeps shoving it in your face.
2. Miley’s Tongue
The second most important character in this story is also attached to Smiley. It’s her tongue, duh.
We get to see quite a lot of Miley’s tongue in this video (although not nearly as much as her butt.) This is because Miley sticking out her tongue is representative of the metaphorical sticking-out-of-her-tongue that she has done to her youthful, wholesome image (re: to Disney). It is also representative of maybe she ate some bad cheese or something .
3. Black People
Hey guys! Did you know that there are BLACK PEOPLE in this video?
It’s a good thing too, because HOW WOULD WE KNOW THAT MILEY’S BUTT TWERKING IS ANY GOOD if there weren’t A TRIO OF BLACK GIRLS TO VALIDATE IT FOR HER?
Seriously, watch that gif up there for a few seconds. Imagine the conversation with the producers beforehand:
“So we want you to do your butt-twerking thing, Miley!”
“Oh, yayyy! I love my butt!”
“But since you’re not very good at it, we’re going to surround you with ACTUAL BLACK WOMEN who will pretend you’re blowing their minds! You’ll get so much street cred, you can probably even say the n-word in your next single!!!”
Seriously, this whole video seems engineered to prove that “Miley can get down with the homies.” Look, there’s even another black guy dancing in the background!
And this black guy eating a money sandwich!
And–WHAT’S THAT? ANOTHER black guy?? And he’s smoking a hot dog like a blunt?!?
4. Product Placement
Is this like a new thing that I’ve missed? I mean, I know people will always turn to advertisers to fund their projects, and celebrities will endorse companies who pay them the big bucks, but was this all really necessary? Is Miley not one of the richest women in the world today? Either way, she did not skimp on the product placement.
Obviously this blunt advertising is actually a commentary on the consumerist nature of America and the fall of the middle class. Or, you know, it’s just a sell-out.
**Note — from this point forward in this blog I am drunksauce. IT’S THE CLIMBBBBBBBBB
Much of this video is centered around food, which is ironic because I’m fairly certain she’s not much of an eater. I mean, check out this death-is-french-fries symbolism:
Don’t forget the part where she breaks open a piñata full of hotdogs. I think the message is supposed to be that “Miley eats just like a regular! SHE’S JUST BEING MILEY!” when in reality I’m fairly certain those hotdogs are the closest thing she’s seen to sustenance in the last seven weeks. I’m not here to body-shame, but you know what, there is NOTHING healthy about this image, and I’m tired of girls idolizing shit like this:
I will say that my favorite part of the whole video is THIS 1-second clip, where a homie just basks in bread:
If I were to direct this video, the WHOLE THING would just be Miley stuffing her face with bread while singing “We Can’t Stop.” One shot. Also she’d be naked. BOOM, music video gold. Talk about avant-garde. That’d be so cool, girl. I wish it was you eating the bread in this shot, instead of passing the buck to Hans the model over here. I wish it was you eating ANYTHING in this video.
6. This Fucking Mask Thing
It represents Clip-Art. NEXT.
7. Dead Animals.
Yo. There are A LOT of dead animals in this video.
Apparently, this music video was based on a real party Miles went to, where I guess she ritualistically slaughtered a dozen sheep and then twerked at them.
Dead animals represent her wish to be taxidermied and preserved after her death, I can only assume.
8. More Oblique, Irrelevant Imagery
Miley, I get it. You’re an adult, you can make your own decisions, and nobody–not your parents, not Disney, not your fans–owns you or your body. That’s a powerful message and one that I have a lot of respect for.
But here’s the thing about being an adult: you’re not a kid anymore. When you make stupid choices, those are YOUR stupid choices. And just because you’ve made them doesn’t make them perfect, or cool, or even valid. If this is the image you’ve decided on for yourself, if you’re just being Miley, fine. But don’t expect the world to love you for it.
Only God can judge you? Maybe in the world you’re living in. But down here, with the grown-ups, we know better.
BONUS: palate-cleanser. She was so PRESHHHHH