Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball video: parable or 'porn'?

Singer insists it has deeper meaning, but critics say it encourages young women to 'objectify themselves'

LAST UPDATED AT 15:52 ON Thu 12 Sep 2013

DEPENDING on your point of view, Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball video is either (a) a symbolic depiction of a destructive relationship, (b) a record-breaking social media phenomenon, or (c) an incitement to young women to "sexually objectify themselves".

Actually, it may be all three. The video, depicting the 19-year-old singer shedding tears, riding naked on a wrecking ball and licking the business-end of a sledgehammer, has thrilled some commentators, appalled others.

Directed by the controversial American fashion photographer Terry Richardson, and released hard on the heels of Cyrus's ‘twerking' routine at the MTV Video Awards, the clip was always destined to make waves. Within 24 hours of its release it had been watched by more than 19.3 million people, smashing a record previously held by Justin Bieber.

Cyrus confronted inevitable criticism of the video on social media by explaining its deeper meaning. The wrecking ball symbolises a "destructive relationship", she tweeted and she kisses the sledgehammer "to show that I secretly still love the pain".

Those close to her have expressed their support. Her Australian boyfriend, actor Liam Hemsworth, revealed that the video turned him on. Her father, 52-year-old country singer, Billy Ray Cyrus, said it was evidence of her "God-given talent".

But not everyone is impressed. Writing in The Guardian, Michael Hann says the video doesn't demonstrate a woman exploring her sexuality, it "depicts a woman exploring the iconography of porn".

That was inevitable, writes Hann, because it was made by the "repulsive" Richardson, a "man whose work gives the impression that he looks at a woman and can't help seeing a blow-up sex doll".

Whatever her reasons for making the clip, writes Hann, Cyrus sends a message "that the best way for young women to be noticed is to sexually objectify themselves".

Writing on the website Hypable, Andrew Sims says Wrecking Ball was a good opportunity for Cyrus to "open up emotionally" and display her "mature" side.

"But Miley couldn't resist sexualising the emotional, serious message as much as possible," writes Sims. "What starts off as a sad song with a close-up of Miley shedding a tear turns into a bunch of visual, sexual innuendo which doesn't relate to the single at all."

On the upside, the Daily Mail points out that the Wrecking Ball video is "significantly less controversial" than its predecessor, We Can't Stop. That production showed the former Disney starlet making out with a doll in a swimming pool, twerking with a giant teddy bear and causing smoke to erupt from a man's crotch.

A director's cut of We Can't Stop is available for those who want to investigate further. · 

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The problem with Miley taking her clothes off is not that it is really shocking - it is just completely pointless in her case and therefore has become quite a bit of a nuisance.

She tries to portray a sexually liberated woman but people simply aren't buying it because she radiates no mystical or powerful sexuality whatsoever. She's simply a late teenager obeying the no. 1 showbizz rule "sex sells" - nothing more.

Without the wanna-be controversial nudity and once again overly prominent tongue and butt action, the video would have actually been great.

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