Thursday, May 6, 2010

Parsing Miley Cyrus's "Can't Be Tamed"

Miley Cyrus is the star of a television program called "Hannah Montana," and she also appeared earlier this year in a film adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. She is apparently 17 years old, which makes her just a few short months away from being "legal" in most states.

(By the way, what's javascript:void(0)the difference between 17 years, 11 months, and 29 days, and 18 years?)

She is also the star of a new video for a song called "Can't Be Tamed." The video and song are apparently "controversial."

If you want any more proof that we are suffering in a repressed, stasist culture, you need look no further. The idea that "Can't Be Tamed" could be considered "controversial," or "provocative," or really worthy of anything other than a shrug of the shoulders-- and perhaps an ever so gentle rolling of the eyes-- is a sad commentary on just how far we have not come.

Here is the video:

Just some dancing and writhing around in various outfits, in dark rooms with murky cinematography. It looks like about half the music videos that have ever been made, although I do like the bird wings at the very beginning.

Here are the lyrics:

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 go through guys like money flyin’ out their hands
They try to change me but they realize they can’t
And every tomorrow is a day I never planned
If you’re gonna be my man, understand

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

If I see my reflectiona bout my intentions
I’ll tell ya I’m not here to sell ya
Or tell ya to get to hell
I’m like a puzzle but all of my pieces are jagged
If you can understand this, we can make some magic
I’m on like that

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


I’m not a trick you play, I ride a different way
I’m not a mistake, I’m not a fake, It’s set in my DNA
Don’t change me (x4)
(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 song is, as Ms. Cyrus would herself say, "bull; that's crap." It's just a bunch of words stuck together. She can't be tamed, and yet, she's looking for a boyfriend ("if you're gonna be my man")?

She also implies that she is a gold-digger ("I go through guys like money flyin’ out their hands"), but then insists that she's not "a trick you play," and that she's "not a fake." In fact, the entire song appears to be about a young woman who is looking for someone to finance her expensive lifestyle ("I wanna fly, I wanna drive, I wanna go;" I assume she doesn't wanna fly in a cheap airplane, or drive in a Pinto, or go in a bathroom without a gold-plated bidet).

"I'll tell ya I'm not here to sell ya?" I know you're not "here" to sell me. You're selling yourself. Actually, your handlers are selling you. That is the entire point of the song and video.

But what gives the entire proceeding an air of pathos is the singer's (is it really Ms. Cyrus? the voice is so worked-over and filtered that it could be anyone-- hell, it could be me) insistence that she "can't be changed," and the later, much more desperate chanting of "don't change me, don't change me," over and over again.

It sounds a bit like a plea, doesn't it? And so ironic from a little girl looking to shed her previous child-star persona for a more "grown-up" one. As E! says in the story accompanying the video,
The smoky eyes, striking costumes and racy dancing all let us know she's moved beyond "Party in the U.S.A,," but we're not complaining.
Ah, but E!, if you're not complaining then you haven't actually listened to the song, have you? Because it's bad enough, with its schizophrenic lyrics and manufactured music, yet what it says about us as a culture is even worse.

This is controversial?

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