Paul McCartney, Charlotte Church, Lena Dunham, and Others Weigh In on the Great Miley Debate
photo: Getty Images
Is Miley Cyrus a victim of the male gaze and the sexual commodification of young women ... or a heroine of third-wave feminism?
Is the former Hannah Montana a woeful example of how today's female stars are willing to sell out their own bodies and souls in one package deal ... or a victim of "slut-shaming"? Is she the new Elvis ... or just the new Linda Lovelace?
And when Rihanna takes to the stripper pole in her new video, is she giving in to the public's appetite for leering, or sticking her tongue out (to put it in Miley-esque terms) at sexists who don't want woman to be sexual at all?
If you're looking for a definitive answer to these questions, don't look to their fellow celebrities, who are caught up in an international debate that mirrors the one going on in homes around the country.
At first it looked as if the arguments about whether Miley is a righteous champ or pathetic victim might break down along generation-gap lines. Elder stateswomen Sinéad O'Connor and Annie Lennox penned open letters criticizing Cyrus and/or her handlers in the wake of her controversial VMAs performance. Then a rush of younger artists jumped in to defend her, whether in intellectual terms (Amanda Palmer) or, well, less so (Kelly Osbourne).
But as the weeks progress — and someday, we may divide history not into B.C. and A.D. but before and after the Great Twerking Incident of 2013 — we've seen more youngsters come out against Miley and more old farts rise up in her defense. You can hardly keep track of who thinks she's a self-made role model and who's convinced she's a self-whoring tramp without a scorecard.
Paul McCartney is the latest elder to weigh in on the "she's just being Miley" side.
"Mind you, I’ve got a 10-year-old girl, so we listen to that kind of stuff," the former Beatle told Sky News, asked about whether he pays attention to teen pop. On the matter of Miley at the VMAs, he said, "You know what, I don’t think it was explicit at all. You couldn’t see anything. I mean, I watched it, just as an experiment, to check … Obviously, you look at it and you go, What’s everyone shouting about? I mean, she's a young girl; she's like only 20 or something. She’s just having a go. Someone said to me that the world that a lot of those people like Miley live in is all noise and you’ve got to rise above the noise, so you’ve got to do something. So you will see people doing something that I think is only mildly socking. I mean, she’s dancing with Robin Thicke on the Billboards, and so what? Come on. We’ve seen worse than that!”
photo: Paul McCartney (FilmMagic), Annie Lennox (WireImage)
But Miley's hyper-sexualization is not just a "so what" to Charlotte Church, who — although she got off to a classier start as a semi-classical star — felt she was forced with some of the same choices when she was pushed into European pop stardom as a child.