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Miley Cyrus conforms to the script

By Melinda Tankard Reist - posted Thursday, 20 May 2010

How do you know when a teenage girl singer is now all grown up?

What are the tell-tale signs that she has left the foolishness of her immature girly days behind and become a real woman?

Her coming-of-age is easy to detect.


She will launch a sexy new look and a song that tells us how hot she is. She will tell us she is unique and different and breaking all the rules. In reality, she’s following the same script as others before her. It’s part of the music machine. Strip off, writhe around on the floor, do a photo shoot for a lad’s mag and tell the world: I’m a big girl now.

The music clip that goes with her metamorphosis usually involves one or all of the following elements:

Sex, poles, fetishised clothing, lingerie, some black leather and killer heels for good measure, lots of groping and grinding against men - and women of course, because “bi” is just so in right now  and our big girl doesn’t want to be locked in to any rigid form of sexuality. There will be intimations of group sex, including simulated oral and anal acts and her newly outed breasts (proving she’s a woman) will be groped.

Ah, our little girl is all grown up.

Gabriella Cilmi, 18, cast off her unique, authentic style for sexualised coming-of-age same old same old with her clip for “On a Mission”. She informs us: “I’m on fire, there’s no competition” and that she’s a woman and nothing can stop her, in various breast accentuating moves.


Nikki Webster, 22, tried desperately to cast off her pig tails and Olympic swings with a group grope fest for “Devilicious”, a video so cringe worthy I just can’t bring myself to host it here. This one image is bad enough [confession: artistic licence taken with speech bubble].

It all feels too try-hard: truckloads of makeup, bleach blond hair extensions and hotpants. No matter how hard she tries, she still looks like the under-age kid who snuck out the window to go the rave party with her big brother and his mates. I know she wants to grow up, but it is unbearable hearing her tell us she “tastes so delicious”.

Seventeen-year-old Disney star Miley Cyrus has gotten into the act now. Of course she did that photo shoot with the post-coital feel, flirted with poles at the Teen Choice Awards last August. But now, in a $US25,000 silver scale corset, she’s taking her new sexual personal to a new level with her latest video clip for her new song “Can’t Be Tamed” released recently on the E! Network.

According to Celebrity Mania:

On her new sexy side of her in “Can’t Be Tamed” music video, Miley Cyrus said that it isn’t about the new her but more about putting a story to the track. “The video isn’t about being sexy or about who can wear less clothes. It’s about explaining the song and living the lyrics … I don’t want to be in a cage. I want to be free and do what I love,” she explained …

Miley further shared about what she expects from the clip, stating “The reason I loved doing this video is because I wanted it to be something different for a female artist.” She added, “It’s not a new Miley; it’s just a new part of me.”

I’m not sure how many female artists she’s seen lately, but if this is “different” I wonder how she defines “same”?

The lyrics to the Britneyesque song are so try-hard they are embarrassing. And the girl-in-cage-needs-to-get-out-and-be-herself-theme - this is original?

For those who don’t know me, I can get a bit crazy
Have to get my way, 24 hours a day
‘Cause I’m hot like that
Every guy everywhere just gives me mad attention
Like I’m under inspection, I always get the 10s
‘Cause I’m built like that

I can’t be tamed, I can’t be saved
I can’t be blamed, I can’t, can’t
I can’t be tamed, I can’t be changed
I can’t be saved, I can’t be (can’t be)
I can’t be tamed
I wanna fly I wanna drive I wanna go
I wanna be a part of something I don’t know
And if you try to hold me back I might explode
Baby by now you should know

The real tragedy is that this conformity to the dictates and predetermined scripts of the music industry are presented as pushing boundaries and original. It seems girls who start out with a unique style are put in a giant homogenising machine where they come out looking and acting and singing the same. While making out they are just so different and empowered.

As one 14-year-old I know (I can neither confirm nor deny if this child belongs to me) said “as Miley gets older and more into the celeb life, she gets faker”.

Speaking of the death of originality, what’s with the Gagafication of Christina Aguilera?

My friend Tania has helpfully provided this post modern literary criticism:

I actually believe this is an entirely new form of media, transcending cultural, psychosocial and stereotypical sexual boundaries, invoking the spirit of post-feminist icons, subverting the ironic post-modernist dilemma of the liberated female versus the subjugated, boudoir-bound male and poking fun at the latent homo-erotic tendencies of nanny-state do-gooder fundamentalist agitators …


Hot cup of Milo, anyone?

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First published on Melinda Tankard Reist's blog on May 6, 2010.

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About the Author

Melinda Tankard Reist is a Canberra author, speaker, commentator and advocate with a special interest in issues affecting women and girls. Melinda is author of Giving Sorrow Words: Women's Stories of Grief after Abortion (Duffy & Snellgrove, 2000), Defiant Birth: Women Who Resist Medical Eugenics (Spinifex Press, 2006) and editor of Getting Real: Challenging the Sexualisation of Girls (Spinifex Press, 2009). Melinda is a founder of Collective Shout: for a world free of sexploitation ( Melinda blogs at

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