The Obvious Evil of Miley Cyrus and the Not-So-Obvious Evil of Taylor Swift

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Let me start by saying that I genuinely don’t give a crap how Miley Cyrus dances, whom she dances with, how far she sticks her tongue out how many times, or how well or not well she “twerks.” I don’t give a crap whose face she shoves her 20-year-old white girl ass against or how foolish or even hot she might look doing it. I don’t care about her embarrassing appropriation of thug-life culture nor do I wonder why she couldn’t have just gotten herself a nice heroin habit if she’d wanted to rebel that badly against Disney, Jesus, and her idiot father. I don’t care because, really, why should I? Sure, I wrote a lengthy screed against Cyrus years ago, but what I was really lamenting was the myriad ways in which the wants and needs of America’s tweens had come to dominate pop culture, with adults ceding their tastes to their children and all of us suffering accordingly. Even at the time, I understood that we were really going to be fucked when the entitled brats whose social media hive mind had done so much damage to music, movies, and books, grew up a few years and started to truly understand the power they could wield. Put that kind of thing in the hands of those who’ve hit their insurrectionist years and you’ve got a recipe for brain drain.

With that in mind, I kind of have to figure out a way to write a few words about Miley Cyrus without actually making myself look like an ass for claiming to not really care about what was apparently a culturally seismic performance from her at Sunday night’s VMAs. Only you can judge whether or not I’m successful. Look, here’s the thing: Cyrus’s furry-and-foam-finger masturbation dance wasn’t some desperate cry for help and it shouldn’t have been a collective pearl-clutching moment for our nation’s skittish adults. Yes, you could probably get away with penning a lengthy analysis of how far the constantly aging-out MTV generation now has to go to shock anyone, but really that’s about it. Actually being shocked by Cyrus’s performance — as in genuinely letting it send you into a hyper-serious indignant tizzy, à la Mika Brzezinski yesterday on Morning Joe, a show which consistently does more to harm America than Miley Cyrus could in her wettest fever dream — is just ridiculous. It’s ridiculous because that’s what Miley Cyrus is. That’s what her performance at the VMAs was: ridiculous. Dumb as hell. And that’s about it.

A skinny little girl playing grown-up wild child sex kitten, and failing miserably, grinding against pop culture’s reigning misogynist douchebag king, who’s dressed like it’s formal day at Foot Locker, all for a bunch of kids who DVR Snooki & Jwoww. You’ll forgive me for not thinking this marks the end of Western Civilization.

The only worthwhile argument I can think of against Miley Cyrus’s silly shtick is that it might leave parents stuck having to explain what the hell happened to Hannah Montana. (Was she in some kind of industrial accident, like the Joker?) But given that most children who worshipped last-gen Disney Youth are now in their late teens themselves, they probably no longer require much hand-holding. If anything, they’re responsible for continuing to keep Cyrus in the public eye. I don’t have to tell my five-year-old daughter that idolizing Miley Cyrus is a terrible idea because she doesn’t idolize Miley Cyrus. Also, the very image of Miley Cyrus acting like a frenzied, naked clown is generally all I have to point to to let my kid know that she should at no point be emulated. (Although I may have to make it clear that P!nk, who my child rightly loves, is a different person altogether and wasn’t, in fact, hit by a truck, causing catastrophic brain damage.) Unfortunately, it’s not quite so simple with Taylor Swift — which is why I truly hate Taylor Swift.

Certainly no pop star owes the children who worship him or her anything. I’ve always believed this. While it’s true that a fair amount of deference should be paid to those who make you rich and powerful, the growth of a young artist shouldn’t be hamstrung by the feeling that this growth — figurative and literal — will crush the tightly held fantasies of little kids. But my daughter really does love Taylor Swift, and it’s incredibly difficult explaining to her why she shouldn’t; why Swift is a petty, vindictive lunatic who should under no circumstances be a role model to any young woman; how she’s every overly sincere needy girl you knew in high school who wrote shitty poetry each time she got dumped after a mere week, only elevated to superstardom with a worldwide forum for airing her embarrassing heartbreak and childish hostility; she’s Lili Taylor’s character in Say Anything if she’d been famous, had dated more people than just Joe, and if she sucked. And my daughter thinks she’s the greatest thing ever.

Now, I know, my kid’s likely going to grow out of this little fascination by the time she’s old enough to really know what boys are and that they can actually be both wonderful people and utter shitheads on occasion. But it’s still unfortunate that there are a lot of little girls out there who are older than her and who think of Swift’s vengefulness-disguised-as-empowerment routine as something to find inspiration in. Yesterday, I called Taylor Swift a particularly nasty little word in a quickie post here at The Daily Banter and, as expected, quickly heard quite a bit about it. Sorry, but I stand by it. In fact, I feel like there’s nothing really to stand by. It’s not a big deal at all to me because, well, it’s just a word, but I’m willing to elaborate on why I have the kind of loathe for Swift that would lead me to not exactly hold back when it comes to expressing my disgust: It’s the sheer insidious nature of her popularity with girls and young women. Again, I can point to Miley Cyrus’s minstrel stupidity and say, “Don’t do that” (or Robin Thicke’s sexist stupidity and say, “Don’t date that”); it’s much harder to explain to a kid bounding around the room to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together why the song, while admittedly catchy, is pure fucking evil and the person singing it is crazy. Cyrus’s gruesomeness is right out there, literally, for all the world to see; Swift’s requires a venn diagram and a stack of Us magazines.

The best I can hope for is that she really is done with Taylor Swift in a couple of years. Maybe faster if I succeed in getting her to fully understand the mantra I repeat to her at regular intervals: “Dave Grohl is God.” She always says it back to me with a smile. But does she truly know it?

  • John Beck

    Spending your whole first paragraph contradicting the fact you are writing about Cyrus was just plain bad writing.

  • Sunlit Web

    So nobody is supposed to be bothered or complain when a mega star to children suddenly sexualizes symbols of early childhood? You are right that youngsters trade information on social media. As adults we can pffftttttt her performance. But the shared videos leave strong impressions on children. I have read of girls on grade school playgrounds twerking and grinding against other kids. Children are blank canvases who don’t have the personal experience to know it is revolting instead of cool.

  • Lady Willpower

    Miley’s hot and I like her music. Nothing else really matters.

  • Sunnyhorse

    I’m way more disturbed by the thought of a little girl being raised by a man who throws words like “cunt” around to describe a young woman he’s never met.

    • Chez Pazienza

      Your objection is duly noted. Piss off.

      • Sunnyhorse

        Whatever, dude. Just stop being so self-congratulatory about being an asshole.

        • Chez Pazienza

          You can do one of two things: Issue commands I’m almost sure not to listen to because I sincerely don’t care much what your opinions are, or go read something else. I’d recommend the latter.

          • Sunnyhorse

            You honestly think I care what you think? Think again.

          • Chez Pazienza

            You’re here, aren’t you? But hey, at least we found something we agree on.

  • Badgerite

    I think it’s called ‘being edgy’.

  • Suzy

    If you teach your kid not to be vindictive and spiteful,listening to Taylor Swift won’t ruin her in any way.When she grows up,she’ll see what we see and be done with it. You’ll get nowhere by trying to convince her now that she’s evil,because she’ll listen to her just to spite you.

    • 624LC .

      Exactly. You will just sound like your dad railing against disco or rock n roll and they will just roll their eyes st you. Mine is in college on a scholarship and some of what she listens to is cringe worthy. It can be done, just be there.

      • Suzy

        yep.Take it from a person whose parents tried to keep her away from Marilyn Manson and failed-their tactic didn’t work and I listened to his music every chance I got until I grew out of my rebellious stage.

    • Chez Pazienza

      I approach it the way Jello Biafra used to suggest it be handled when parents are confronted with a kid who buys a Sammy Hagar record. “Okay, you bought this thing — WHY?”

      • Suzy

        :)) haha,ok,but Sammy Hagar rules,just for the record.

  • mrbrink

    Quality stuff. You should write a book about being a parent in the same vein as this. It’d be a best seller and they could get Paul Rudd, or Ewan McGregor to play you in the movie. Seriously.

  • T Wall

    Haha…parents who point at these “entertainers” and tell their children “Don’t do this” have obviously not had the exciting adventure of raising a teenager yet! Ha! Good Luck!

  • fojap

    Am I actually going to have to listen to Taylor Swift now?

  • Gunnut2600

    This kind of crap is why extremists traditionalist groups overseas freak out about American culture and values infultrating their society.

  • http://www.facebook.com/felonious.grammar Felonious Grammar

    Some music I liked as a teen makes me cringe with embarrassment, but it’s good for us to realize how indiscriminate and easily sold on swill we were when we were young. Your daughter might look back at Swift and think she was about as amazing as Sea Monkeys.

    I still like some Monkees.

  • philistinus

    I was just saying to my mailman that MiCy is gonna receive a cease and desist from P!nk any day now. And I couldn’t agree more that TaySwi deserves all the pain her songs hyperbolize and that she has never experienced. But Dave Grohl as a God? Is this a comment about your professed atheism?

  • http://vermillionbrain.blogspot.com/ Vermillion

    What can I say? When you’re right, you’re right.

    Cyrus is ridiculous. She has always been a hyperactive cartoon, and now, instead of being a Disney product, she is like something Spike TV: attempting to be adult and shocking, but just anemic. And it is like I said elsewhere: what is so new about her appropriating ratchet culture? She did the same for country/western when she had started out, in order to build off the family name.

    But Swift…wow. I saw the video for that song “You Belong To Me”, where she cast herself as the shy dork best friend of a football player who doesn’t notice her. That video, combined with the passive aggressive bullcrap in the lyrics, told me all I needed to know about her. I am totally mystified as to why anybody dates her. Are there really that many famous guys so overconfident in their penises that they think they can tame America’s (technical) Virgin? Well, I may have answered my own query there, but I just think that they have to have enough groupies and such to not have to go through so much trouble. Of course, what is really insane is that her older fans tend to be just as rabid about affronts to Saint Taylor as the fans of a certain abusive douchenozzle that I wish to not speak of.

    Here’s to your little one, and the millions of other little ones, realizing that any music coming from somebody that self-absorbed is not something to emulate. And yes, Dave Grohl is God.

  • Lazarus Durden

    When she starts to hear Jimi instead of listening to Jimi then she’ll be somebody.

  • 624LC .

    Im confused – what has Robin Thicke done that merits the anger? I like his music and think he was hilarious on The real husbands of hollywood and he seems happily married. But I am weird because I can like him and David Grohl. As for Miley and Taylor – ehh – she twerks and the other likes to write songs about the fuckers she dates. And? The suit comment was funny, though…

    • http://vermillionbrain.blogspot.com/ Vermillion

      A lot of people don’t like “Blurred Lines” because it sounds date rapey. Skeezy at best.

      Of course, my thing is, having Miley Cyrus grind on him at the VMAs isn’t going to help rehab that reputation much.

  • lefty_lib1

    I started finding Miley Cyrus to be rather repulsive several years ago. Taylor Swift? I have no problem with her, whatsoever. Artists make money from their broken hearts over and over again, whether it be through music lyrics, paintings, or sculptures, etc. A broken heart and one’s response to it is seen throughout the world of talent. That’s never gonna change!

  • muselet

    Given the churn in the music business, by the time your kid gets to middle school Taylor Swift will have been replaced by someone you dislike even more. And Swift herself will be headlining at county fairs and Indian casinos.

    –alopecia

    • Christopher Foxx

      One can hope.

    • i_am_allwrite

      I don’t think it works that way any more. I keep waiting for Beiber to become his generation’s Leif Garrett, and it keeps not happening. Can you think of a David Cassidy or Donny Osmond from the last decade? Seriously, Marky Mark is an A-list movie star.

      • muselet

        There are exceptions, sure, but look at the number of pop tarts who’ve come and gone in the past few years. Statistically, Taylor Swift is approaching her best-by date.

        –alopecia

  • http://www.domesticdisturbia.com/ Christi Wampler

    I have said since Sunday that while Miley’s performance was just a waste of time that could have been used by someone with an actual TALENT, Taylor Swift deserves all the criticism from Sunday for her bitter, undignified and classless response to winning whatever award she got for whatever crap song was about whatever robot male douchebag she was dumped by. Sure, Taylor is all dressed up flawlessly in her demure gown and perfect make-up, but she’s nothing more than a polished turd. Miley is at least just being the turd she is.

    • http://vermillionbrain.blogspot.com/ Vermillion

      I learned that Mary Lambert, the woman who does the chorus on Macklemore’s “Same Love” had performed and pretty much tore the roof off. But nobody would know that looking at the headlines. Hell, I found out on Facebook myself.

    • icarrion

      This is why I love this site – even the comments are perfect:
      “[Swift is] nothing more than a polished turd. Miley is at least just being the turd she is.”

  • That River Gal

    I think I need a cigarette after reading this. <3

  • Clockwork Professor

    Not that long ago, in a bid to stay relevant, Britney and Madonna kissed at the VMAs. I find all the hand-wringing over Cyrus’s gyrations amusing–how is it any different than what goes in clubs all over? Oh, right–it wasn’t in front of an audience of adults over the age of 21. It was on TV, and then spread across the Internet. I am really, really glad I don’t have cable, and that my 9 year old (who also LOVES P!nk) isn’t going to see this. At least not right away. God help me if she does another puff piece “biography” on Taylor Swift (who she likes, too, UGH) and comes across this article when she uses Google. Actually, just typing this up has made me realize that I am fighting a battle, and I am not going to win. And I am going to have a lot of explaining to do.

  • Alyson Chadwick

    I agree with most of this except for what you think about “Morning Joe.” I love that show (though Mika was over the top this week)

  • RenoRick

    Taylor Swift must be defeated! She can write a great 3.5 minute radio hit, but she’s as shallow as my savings account…Formal day at Foot Locker lol…

  • formerlywhatithink

    A female performer rubs her crotch with a foam finger and everybody goes nuts. Male performers grab their crotches repeatedly, simulating masturbation, no one cares.

  • Xeknos

    Swift employs a very specific brand of emotional exploitation in her music – I feel sorry for anyone who makes the mistake of dating her, because they’re just going to be the next top single off her next bestselling album. Cyrus’ only victim is herself, and in fairness, her downfall is proving to be kind of entertaining.

  • Katja Nyquist

    Formal day at foot locker HAHAHAHAHA! my day has been made. Great article.

  • Jason E

    Formal day at Foot Locker, that is hilarious! So with Oprah, Miley and Taylor on the shit list. I’m curious Chez are there any female celebrities that you do admire? If so, then why?

    • Chez Pazienza

      Far too many to mention. Singling out the fact that I sometimes rail against a handful of women overlooks the fact that I also rail against a steady stream of men. It’s easy to employ the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy and just draw a big circle around a couple of regular targets I aim at but it’s also a FALLACY. In this very piece I said that my kid rightly loves P!nk. I support that wholeheartedly. P!nk rules.

      • Jason E

        Sorry didn’t mean to suggest you were sexist! Misogyny is for losers. Racism too!