The difference between neediness and sexiness.
A while back, an article was published applauding Miley Cyrus’ claim that Hannah Montana is dead. Her recent video for the song “Wrecking Ball” has been at the center of the hype about the celebrity and her new found identity as a sex icon. The article goes as far as to say she is ahead of the curve because this is a “is a purposeful calculated business plan and a prudent career strategy.”
I’m not arguing sexiness (I suppose that is in the eye of the beholder). However, I am suggesting that ignorance is a cataract in the eye of the beholder that obstructs one’s vision. Miley Cyrus is a sex symbol—she is the object of many a men’s eye, but their eyes cannot see beyond the symbol to her experience where the pain of becoming sexy is felt. Ignorance prevents us from seeing the dynamics and motivations of a whole person. In order to presume that an 11-year-old girl has died and that the person now standing before us is a totally independent, free, and sexy woman, we have to ignore the truth of a whole person. We’d have to be manipulated into believing that what you see on a screen is the whole person, rather than a marketing ploy to sell you an idea about a person. You’d also be led to believe that what we’re calling sexiness doesn’t cost an individual anything. They don’t have to give, trade, or barter any aspect of themselves to be seen by millions wearing nothing and riding a wrecking ball.
My point is simple: Hannah Montana is not dead. Miley Cyrus has not “moved into the adult world of music and film” as stated in the before mentioned article. She is a wounded 11 year old girl, stuck in the body of Miley Cyrus. She is choking, suffocating, from the toxicity of an 11 year old’s equivalent to crack—attention, approval, but most importantly the need to prove to herself that she isn’t broken, but wanted or as it is often called, “sexy.”
This video was made for approval.
I’m not talking about the kind of approval we seek from teachers and parents, but the kind we can’t help but crave. It’s the craving we have to be scandalous, dangerous, dirty, and even shameful. It’s the same thing that makes it hard to not watch the video, to secretly not kind of like it. It’s human nature. I’m not saying liking the video or the song is bad or that she isn’t talented. She can sing. I’m simply saying the reason we like it cannot be reduced to sexiness, because it’s not sexy. It’s painful. We relate to the pain that is in desire, especially desire that drives us to desperation, and this video is desperate. What we are calling sexiness is neediness. She’s desperate for more attention; more concrete security that her place is definite, not at risk in a world of criticism that she despises, yet thrives on and needs to survive.
Living a childhood under that type of scrutiny has proven time and again to change the way a person interacts with the world around them: Lindsay Lohan, Macaulay Culkin, Britney Spears. At a certain point, the only thing that matters is being seen, noticed. With this notion, one’s self worth is determined by how others see you and take you in as a concept, not as a person. Of course, this is all tied up in money. You are putting the person aside and selling the concept. Whatever it takes to sell this idea becomes the most important thing. This is by far the biggest and most overlooked deceit we feed young people through the media. It is so easily sold, because even their idols have bought into it. This is simply another example of that. The article I’m referring to sees Miley Cyrus as just another concept. She is seen as a sex symbol, PERIOD. Nothing else is taken into account.
From that perspective, then yes, she won. She sold herself as a concept and she’s a genius. A filthy rich genius. But I want to be clear, that is not a strategy for making money and succeeding in Hollywood. It is a consequence of a type of life that ignores the laws of nature that force a person to turn inward and discover their own personal value. Hollywood just exploits that weakness. It preys off of the insecurity in order to make a buck, or billions of bucks.
To watch this video and pretend to see a sexy woman is irresponsible. I see a wounded child trying to fool others, but mostly herself. Trying to convince herself that she can escape the desperation of her childhood. It reminds me of my 5 year old niece wanting to wear my high heels and put on lip stick. If I’m honest, it reminds me of myself at a time in my life when I too would have sold myself into a shameful slavery for the approval of a certain group of people. If we’re all honest, we can all remember a time in our lives when we have done this. Even true as adults, how often we fall prey to that glorious moment when we sell a white lie about ourselves to get a pat on the back, a quick word of praise, or a big laugh. In this case, it’s more destructive and cuts a deeper scar because of the wide range of the audience and the extreme measures that have to be taken to get the attention of that large audience. We’re talking about millions of people, 44 million to be exact!
Just because she is a celebrity does not mean she is exempt from the emotional torments of her childhood. It is unfair to assume that what you see in the media is an one dimensional, entertaining machine. We all have an inner Hannah Montana, an inner wounded child we are trying to out run, trying to prove to him/her that we are valuable. When I sell the needs of that child in an effort to dormant that neediness, I feel that disloyalty to myself. Celebrities aren’t immune to this. We see this done on screen, for money, and it seems acceptable. If I were to sell this “sexy” idea in my daily life, I would feel the consequences of my craving and ultimately I’d lead a very lonely life. I feel it is crucial that we are open and honest about these possibilities when we are admiring someone in this position so that we can find the common thread in our own lives, as well as to not validate a lie. My own personal hope is that I may find the confidence to follow a genuine path in discovering my true self, instead of hiding behind my inner child’s desperation.
Sexiness is creative, never destructive. There is no need for a wrecking ball. Sexiness isn’t about killing one’s inner child or innocence, but letting it take you to new places.