It has become difficult to determine what is pop culture and what is pop vulture – that is, the celebrities circling the remains of the work before them, salvaging what they can from the remains and getting naked to hide anything missing.
Looking to the past, music was about who could inspire people with their lyrics. The superstars from all genres were those who could produce a cult-like following from their audience with performances reliant on their musical prowess.
Now, success is judged not only on earnings and chart positions, but on video views. Gradually it has become obvious that to rake in the views, one must make a point. And it is simply easier to make a point while naked. It grabs attention and it’s probably super comfy as well. Not to mention the slashing of time spent getting dressed for a shoot.
With the prevalence of Youtube in the music world, there has been the birth of the musical stunt jockey. These jockeys ride steel balls naked rather than horses, and their reigns are on the video charts.
Between Miley Cyrus and Kanye West, the very essence of a stunt jockey has intensified. Now it is a case of who comes the closest to literally producing nonsensical porn to accompany their songs, rather than whose music speaks louder to people.
These stars have come into the pop industry and consequently our daily lives through our ever-blaring TVs “like a wrecking ball”, as a wise woman once told us.
But what do they teach us? Where can we go from here?
While I see no sense in Miley’s video from an art perspective, she is apparently a genius businesswoman. I mean, look at the facts. She has made millions because our society was simultaneously shocked and excited by her nakedness and sexuality. Our own chasteness has seen her laughing to the bank atop a gyrating bear.
It is the reaction to her videos and performances rather than the ‘art’ itself that interests me. It has brought to the forefront of society the idea of ‘slut shaming’. That is, putting women down because of their clothing, or lack thereof. This issue is something rarely talked about, but instilled in children from a young age. Girls are made to teeter between being too chaste and too showy, leaving a very fine line for them to walk. Girls are simultaneously shown through magazines and television that it is the thin girl showing off her body who succeeds, yet in life we have the image of the ‘slut’ brandished in front of us as a warning against the wild.
Similarly, public response to videos such as Kanye West’s ‘Branded 2′ highlight society’s immense talent in self delusion. People ridicule the video, and Kanye and Kim themselves, yet watch it time and time again. It is the same as people unable to help themselves but look at the graphic scenes of a car crash. There is some kind of beauty or appeal in these kind of car wrecks – which I am inclined to think Kanye’s video is.
Above all, people are fascinated by celebrities’ lives. Sad, but true. The more they show, the more we ridicule, yet secretly envy and covet. It’s the idea of the grass is always greener on the other side. But in this case, we like to mow down the grass every chance we get. And then watch it grow again.
Miley and Kanye may seem like egotistical nutbags, but they are smart enough to play on this monumental weakness of our society. They must sit down and think, ‘Alright, the last star got down to a g-string and went Platinum. I’d better go the full Monty for a Multi Platinum single.’
Arguably there is some genius in walking the fine line between racy and downright inappropriate. These stunt jockeys are redefining the art in music as well as society itself. They are playing on our weaknesses and thus highlighting the mix of jealousy and disdain warring within the Average Joe and his wife Joelle and their average kids Joey, Jolly and Joan.
Miley Cyrus has said, “For me, the movement needs to be something bigger than just a record. For me, a movement is something that represents taking over the world.” And, woe for us all, she seems set to do just that.
Perhaps our future is Beyonce and Jay Z ruling side by side as Constitutional Monarchs, with Kanye as the next President and Miley as the Treasurer. The ‘Twerking Queen’ (see: Queen of Cultural Appropriation) could show some butt to Congress to solve any debt crises. A naked stunt could solve world hunger!
I am both excited for and extremely worried about what is to come next – which next one-hit wonder country bumpkin’s daughter will shock the world in unflattering latex? * shudder *