Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Miley didn't kiss a girl...apparently

‘When you're 11, the word you would use to describe someone is definitely not sexy, and as you get older I think you grow into that. And I think I've done that but that's not my schtick. That's not what I'm trying to do to sell records. I want people to buy my record because of my music.’

Ahh, the wisdom of Miley Cyrus, in defence of her recent wardrobe choices (hot pants, low-cut pleather) and more interestingly, her behavioural choices (pole dancing on stage at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards and faux-kissing a female dancer during a performance of her new single “Can't Be Tamed” on Britain's Got Talent last week).

Let’s be honest, her antics are not surprising – she’s not the first female popstar to perform scantily clad, nor is she first to publicly plant a same-sex kiss (think fellow pop gals Britney and Madonna).

Miley has defended her kiss on her website, claiming that since it wasn’t a ‘real kiss’ it didn’t really happen: ‘I promise you I did not kiss her and it is ridiculous that two entertainers cant even rock out with each other without the media making it some type of story. I really hope my fans are not disappointed in me because the truth is I did nothing wrong. I got up there and did my job which is to perform to the best of my ability. I just want to put an end to this right now and just say one thing to everyone out there making this performance such a big deal.’

Wha?!? Has she gone mental? Firstly, Miley is fiercely policing the boundaries of her heterosexuality, as suggested by her vehement denial of any same-sex contact, her determination to distinguish between ‘actually’ kissing another girl or just “rock[in’] out” (aka simulating the kiss). This way, she keeps her heterosexuality intact, as she ‘did nothing wrong.’ She seems to be saying ‘it’s ok to pretend to be gay while I’m wearing almost no clothes, but it’s not ok to actually be gay.’

At the same time, Miley is using a same-sex act to garner the attention that she claims she doesn’t want – even The Age had a link to a short piece about it! If Miley’s not really kissing girls and not really seeking attention I don’t know whether the act can be except an outrageously silly and immature publicity stunt. It smacks of a young girl desperate to look sexy and instead appearing clumsy, hypocritical and lacking understanding of any sort of sexual or gendered sensibilities. Unfortunately (though ironically in Miley’s favour) the focus after this little exploit was certainly not on the music and despite her claims, may actually boost her record sales.

I do feel a bit bad for Miley. She is surrounded by other crazies after all - her ex-best friend Katy Perry did make herself famous by singing I Kissed a Girl (though later she assured audiences they shouldn’t worry, she never actually had kissed a girl). That said I’m pretty distressed about the way these young women act and call it ‘sexy’ - as if female sexuality must always be reduced to what brings in the highest profit margin, with no regard for (or rather, little demonstrated understanding of) the implications and inconsistencies of what they're doing.

Opening quote at
Miley's blog


  1. nice 1 julz! i think the pressure on girls/women to be 'sexy' these days has escalated to all new highs. not only is this exemplified in the media, but unfortunately celebrities like miley cyrus are feeding the media more of their bait.
    nothing wrong with being scantily clad in my opinion, but i think the real problem is finding out why miley (and others) dress such a way and then respond by defending themselves. i mean if they think it's no big deal then why do they have to stand up for anything about how they're representing themselves?

  2. beautifully articulated raise many a good point. why are we so lasciviously obsessed with the public performance of hyper-sexuality and yet so disgusted by the reality of people's everyday day sexual desires and practices? Nice work keep up the regular posting. I love our little blog posse.

  3. Great writing Julza. We've been talking a lot about this issue is seen in males in the Y12 class I teach (all boys). Though many of these students purport to subscribe to some form of hyperheterosexuality, we talked about how they touch, caress, hug for longer than the other person is comfortable - even the odd cheek-kiss. Like our mate Miley, questions from their friends as to whether they are doing anything other than "rocking out" are met with scorn - such actions can apparently only be meant in jest. And unfortunately, I'm not sure how far I can blame them for this - most portrayals of gay men in the popular media are 2D plot devices, not developed characters, meant for comic relief. See The Simpsons, or (ugh) Two and a Half Men. As these men are discredited - whether this is through a high-pitched, whiny voice or simply pointing out that they are not straight - so too are their actions. They are *funny*. And for many of my students, this portrayal is thought to be as true in reality as it is in fiction. Miley's words don't really help that.

    PS Read the texts on your "must read" list bar Castro's. Great stuff!


  4. Josh I think you're think you're right - I think gay male characters are often portrayed in the way you described. I don't believe that same-sex affection must always be homoerotic at all, though this is the message kids receive a lot at the moment. And, when homoeroticism is used as a 2D plot device as you mentioned, it can just cause even further uncertainty for people. I would read Miley as caught up in the middle of this. I'm not sure her own same-sex "affection" in the video clip is of the regular friendship-type affection often found with females and males, as such a public and rehearsed act must be premeditated to some point, and to some purpose (ie media attention)...and this just adds to the bizarre message of action/denial that she gives out.

  5. Oh it was bad enough when our Nikki Webster dropped the polka dots and got all sexy. Now Miley has moved from Strawberry Kisses to pleather and sex. And though her lack of insight into gender politics is disappointing, I guess what more can you expect from a child in adults clothing. This time it's the lamb dressing as the wolf.