Not content to let Sinead O’Connor and Annie Lennox have all the fun, Charlotte Church has waded into the Miley Cyrus sex-storm, slamming child stars and ‘Disney Tweens’ for overtly sexualised performances, and expressing regret for her own past heavily sexualised appearance in music videos as a teenager.
At the annual John Peel lecture at Manchester’s Radio Academy Radio Festival, Church pointed out that many young female performers buy into the old cliche ‘sex sells’ as a way of pushing their own careers – not realising the potential long-term consequences. Church says she felt pressured into wearing overtly sexy clothes by ‘middle aged men’, but perhaps in doing so she also sought to disassociate herself from the ‘angelic’ choir girl image that she was thrust into the limelight with.
This topic has been mauled so heavily in the media of late that one almost feels inclined to play devil’s advocate and side with the ‘sexbots’. Rather than finger-wagging we should all assume the superiority position and look on knowingly as Miley Cyrus crashes and burns, then we can all shake our heads sadly and say ‘poor Miley’ as we used to say ‘poor Britney’. The sofa is much more comfortable than the soapbox; it’s so much easier to pity and patronise post-downfall than to rage and shake our fists at the drama playing out before us.
We shouldn’t be so swift to label Miley as a passive victim of the music business; sure, Charlotte speaks of experiencing pressure to sexualise her appearances, but in Miley’s savage counter-attack on Sinead she has effectively stuck two fingers up at the idea that she is anybody’s victim. Perhaps we should let her get on with it, and hope she manages to come out in one piece.
As Sinead rightly pointed out to Miley in her open letter, overtly sexual performances actually obscure a singer’s talent.
Miley is twerking, stripping and wearing nipple stickers and fishnet body stockings to make headlines, but she is probably more than aware that she isn’t doing anything new, nor providing her fans and fellow women with a good role model. That isn’t her concern, she just wants to sell records, so why are we clamouring to point out to her something she already knows: that sex sells?
Miley will likely go one of three ways in the future: reformed sinner (Charlotte Church), ongoing sex object in the face of all resistance (Madonna) or therapy (Britney Spears). Sinead O’Connor suspects Miley will end up on the ‘ragheap’, burnt out and used by men who made money from her body. That remains to be seen. In the meantime I look forward to seeing Miley’s reaction to her latest critic; having unpleasantly insulted O’Connor over her previous mental health issues, one wonders how she will manage to outrage that hardy Welsh lady Charlotte, who previously took on the likes of Cheryl Cole. I suspect this is a spat she wouldn’t come out of well, so let’s hope management have a word. In the meantime, let’s all be Reasonable Clives, have a cup of tea and let her get on with it.