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For Miley Cyrus, it's not about nudity but suffering for one's art

My dad always said that having the right tools made the job easier.

I wonder what Dad would’ve thought of Miley Cyrus?

Now, if you’re one of the 100 or so people left in America who hasn’t seen the video for her new song, “Wrecking Ball,” you might want to take a moment and check it out. (I'm a full-service blogger; video included above.) Though I should offer some caveats:

  • Don’t watch it at work: Unless, of course, you want to be accused of violating your company’s sexual harassment policies and/or be sentenced to sexual harassment reeducation camp. We’ve all been there; we don’t want to go back.
  • Don’t watch it at home: Unless your wife and/or children are away  -- or unless you want to be sleeping on the couch tonight.
  • Don’t watch it with the sound off: After all, it’s a music video. You don’t want people thinking you’re a voyeur.
  • Do watch the whole thing: Sure, this could be the hardest part, but it’s not that long and you don’t want people thinking you’re ADD.

OK, now that we’re all on the same page: Holy cow, we’re not in (Hannah) Montana anymore, Toto!

Also, let me just say this about Ms. Cyrus: For a singer, she has a nice figure. Plus, I think she has a future in show business, because she’s certainly not shy.

You probably noticed she was naked. You may have thought that was (insert your own description here).

But let’s get it straight from the songbird’s mouth. According to Cyrus, her nudity was beside the point. Talking to New York's Z100 radio station Wednesday, she had this to say:

“If people get past the point that I'm naked and you actually look at me, you can tell that I actually look more broken than even the song sounds.

“If people can take their minds off the obvious and go into their imagination a little bit and see what the video really means and the way that it is so vulnerable.... If you look at my eyes, I look more sad than actually my voice sounds on the record. It was a lot harder to actually do the video than it was to even record the song. It was much more of an emotional experience.”

In other words, much like Michelangelo, Van Gogh and all the greats, Cyrus suffered for her art. Including that it was undoubtedly very hard to sing and hang onto that wrecking ball while naked without suffering some serious scrapes; plus, I can’t imagine licking that sledgehammer was much fun. (Small personal aside: I once dropped a sledgehammer on my foot, and that sure wasn’t a good time.)

OK, so it’s not about the nudity (nor is it a how-to video on taking down a wall, though I’ve seen worse examples on YouTube). But is it, well, art, or the end of Western civilization?

On Tuesday, my colleague Alexandra Le Tellier took the high road

As long as Cyrus is in control of her body and how she uses it, then more power to her. Of all the problematic celebrities out there, Cyrus is hardly someone to worry about. (At least at this point in time.) We might even consider giving her kudos.

Or, we might consider giving her some clothes to wear.

Despite being several generations removed from Le Tellier -- and Cyrus -- I’m not yet a curmudgeon, although I am certainly working my way toward curmudgeonhood. Still, I’ve been around rock music long enough to have heard the “going to hell in a handbasket” warnings more times than I can remember.

So I don’t expect this video to lead directly to the Rapture. Nor am I especially offended by it. As the ad campaign said, “You’ve come a long way, baby,” and for women, that includes the right to get naked and cavort with tools (though, just guessing here, I’m betting that Cyrus’ dad won’t be getting much work out of her on the home remodel).

No, in the end, I have a more personal take on l’affaire Cyrus:

I’m just glad I have two sons.


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Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1 and Google +

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times
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