This morning I read Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley Cyrus and it made my day.
A little back story: apparently Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares to You” video was the inspiration for “Wrecking Ball,” but a tight face-shot of a singer belting out their track does not the same video make. Sinead’s shaved head is closer to our beloved Brit-Brit’s 2007 ‘do than it is to Miley’s fashion-forward coif and Sinead wears a black turtleneck, which is pretty much the exact opposite of a topless Miley. All of that aside, it has been argued that the “Nothing Compares to You” video is iconic and “Wrecking Ball” doesn’t come anywhere near that kind of status. Also, has anyone spoken to John Mayberry about this? Because I’d love to know how he feels about being the equivalent to super-creep Terry Richardson in this scenario, but I digress…
After Miley made the comparison in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, various media outlets started approaching O’Connor asking her thoughts on the subject. Sinead responded with this open letter to the young singer (I tried to post a link to O’Connor’s website, but the section where the letter is posted has been shut down due to high traffic). Now, this is a woman who shaved her head to desexualize herself and later ripped up a picture of the Pope to protest the Catholic Church’s silence on child abuse during a performance on Saturday Night Live, did Miley really think she was just going to let that comment slide? This chick eats controversy for breakfast and then tells Hitler to throw more bacon on the fire.
After reading the letter and feeling all stoked that someone else gets it, I tweeted a link to it with the preface, “So this needed to be said…” and here’s why.
It's not that I care about Miley Cyrus as a person (LiLo is the only celeb I feel a connection that strong with – Bellmore-Merrick, baby!), but – and I am aware of how prudish this sounds – I do think that it's important to discuss the kind of image she's projecting to young women today. Miley Cyrus is 20 years old. Before her now infamous VMA performance I had been #TeamMiley. Her music is catchy (I dare you not to sing along when “Party in the USA” comes on, even when it’s just the instrumental part in Girl Talk’s “That’s Right”), her haircut is kickass (it’s like a cross between Kate Lanphear, Macklemore and Robyn) and, for awhile there, she really seemed to be coming into her own. I chalked her antics up to her age and being exposed to fame at such a young age.
And then she simultaneously sexualized and infantilized herself on stage at the 2013 VMA’s (an award show that I wasted hours of my life watching, thanks MTV). In the weeks that followed I have gone back and forth on whether I need to ignore it or take a stance and now I realize that I just wanted an adult to intervene (I also want an adult to say, “either stick that tongue in your mouth or I'm gonna cut it off,” but we’re coming from a place of love right now).
Enough is enough. You’ve crossed the line between having fun and finding yourself and now you’re just selling yourself and it’s not even to the highest bidder, so pull yourself together, girrrrrrrl.
Sinead’s words might fall on deaf ears (or tone-deaf, as the case may be. Did you hear that VMA performance in addition to seeing it? Rough.), but I think it’s important that another celebrity (as crazy as she may be) speaks out about Miley’s behavior. Young women should not think that rolling around naked in wreckage and licking a sledgehammer is how to be sexy. I know I can be a prude at times and, don’t get me wrong, if I had Miley’s body I’d be tempted to run around naked too, but this is just sending the wrong message. It’s not like I’m one of those people who think that video games lead to violence and I’m not simple enough to think that this video alone is the problem. I think this video is a symptom of problem with young women today and I think that Sinead O’Connor is voicing important concerns about that issue.
So, while I’m kind of sick of Miley, let’s have a discourse. Let’s talk about young girls posting pictures and videos of themselves on the internet, pictures that they can never get back, pictures that can become fodder for bullies and incentive for predators. Let’s talk about self image and self worth. Let’s talk about what a break-up does to your self esteem. Reach out to a younger person in your life. Thank a teacher or a social worker or a mentor anyone you know who helps young girls know that they are worth more, that they have value, that they can be funny and awkward and amazing and attractive without feeling the need to turn it into currency. Let’s take something negative and turn it into something positive because, quite honestly, I’d like to change the subject from twerking.