The Briefing > September 9, 2013

The real problem with Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ video


Miley Cyrus’ tongue is one of the worst things to happen to pop in 2013.

First it was one of various terrible elements in her VMAs performance and now it ruins an otherwise brilliant video for ‘Wrecking Ball’.

This video is likely to inspire a deluge of horrified stories and thinkpieces and lots of them will probably home in on the nudity in the video. Actually, and this is quite surprising given the combination of The Popstar Miley Cyrus and The Director Terry Richardson, the nudity feels strangely tasteful. Quite beautiful in a way.

Obviously, on one level, you can nearly see Miley Cyrus’ bangerz. But as a piece of ‘art’ – and this is a stunningly shot video – the nudity works so well because it illustrates the vulnerability we all feel when love smashes us to bits.

But the tongue. The licking. The phallic hammer head. It only accounts for about 3% of the video’s 3:41 running time but it changes the tone of the whole thing. This video could have been powerful and confident. It could have allowed Miley to say actually, do you know what, a kit-off scenario doesn’t always have to be crass and grotty. Instead, for the sake of seven seconds of nonsense, a potentially eloquent response to the VMAs furore just seems tacky and titillating.

Rihanna could have made this video. (Actually she could have made the song as well but that’s a different matter.) The thing is, it’s hard to imagine Rihanna – even ‘S&M’ chanteuse Rihanna – saying yes to the sledgehammer stuff. Rihanna would have said fuck off. And if it’s something you can imagine Rihanna saying no to, you’ve got to accept that it’s probably unwise.