Thursday, October 3, 2013

Miley: Here's One Motherf--cker You Should Listen To

When I started in my career in the mid 80s (ouch), I had both women supervisors and men. The men were invariably generous with their time and advice. The women, by and large, were less so. This may be because I ended up (at a very early age) doing my male bosses' jobs for them. And, it may also be that the women I worked for were threatened. 

(This is only my experience, and I'm sorry that it was because I believe that the successful businesswoman is invariably stereotyped as an unsupportive bee-yotch.)

So, let's assume that there's some truth to the idea that women are threatened by their younger, talented peers. (Who can blame them; historically there hasn't been enough opportunity for women to go around.) How much worse it must be for those in the entertainment industry, where middle-aged is replaced by young, young is replaced by younger, and old is forgotten altogether.

That's why I was heartened this morning to hear about a music industry veteran, reaching out to her younger singer-sister with some caring and constructive criticism. The message (rather riddled with profanity) was sent to (the "f*ck it, it girl" of the moment) Miley Cyrus. And it was written by (the "f*ck it, it girl" of the 90s) Sinead O'Connor.

This is only newsworthy to my generation, I'm afraid. My teenage daughter probably doesn't know who O'Connor is/was. She may have heard "Nothing Compares 2 U" on one of my "adult contemporary" (aka "old lady") radio stations. But, she certainly wouldn't know about the Irish singer's infamous appearance on Saturday Night Live, when she tore up a picture of the Pope in a petulant gesture that was almost as big a waste of time as the outrage that ensued.

Every time some hot young thing goes off the deep end (Britney, Lindsay Lohan, Amanda Bynes), I always wonder the same thing ... "Where's the mother?" Not that controlling a teenager (even a regular, everyday, not-a-pop-star one like my own) is ever easy. But, you see a train about to wreck — and that train is your daughter — you do something!

Sinead is stepping up to the Miley Cyrus plate here. The letter is long, but fairly literate. And, as she says in her opening, written in "the spirit of motherliness and with love."

Dear Miley,

I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today I’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your “Wrecking Ball” video was designed to be similar to the one for “Nothing Compares” … So this is what I need to say … And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.

I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way “cool” to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether it’s the music business or yourself doing the pimping.

Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.

I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you.

The music business doesn’t give a sh– about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, “they” will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.

None of the men oggling you give a sh– about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a f— about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a f— about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a f— about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped, and that includes you yourself.

Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and its associated media.

You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever.. Don’t be under any illusions.. ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty.. which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognise those who do not.

I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying f— about you. They’re there for the money.. we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.

You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine. The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age.. which unfortunately many female artists who have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.

Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question.. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. It’s really not at all cool. And it’s sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself. Your body is for you and your boyfriend. It isn’t for every spunk-spewing dirtbag on the net, or every greedy record company executive to buy his mistresses diamonds with.

As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image.. whoever is telling you getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect your talent, or you as a young lady. Your records are good enough for you not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She’s waaaaaaay gone by now. Not because you got naked but because you make great records.

Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that it’s somehow cool to be prostituted.. it’s so not cool Miley.. it’s dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. we aren’t merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers.. that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career. Kindly fire any motherf—er who hasn’t expressed alarm, because they don’t care about you.

You've proved your point, Sinead. And, I hope your pop princess protégé heeds your words. 

And may I also say, nothing compares 2 u.

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