Miley Cyrus's New Video: An Analysis


Last night, viewers got their first glimpse of Miley’s new video for the single “Can’t Be Tamed.” The video, deemed the “next step in the evolution of Miley,” is chock full o’symbolism. Let’s break it down.

Apparently, some think this video is too sexy. It certainly ups the ante a bit for Cyrus, who has been itching for some time to break free of Disney’s iron grip. “It’s a sexy video,” she told Ryan Seacrest. But “it’s not the premise … The video is not about being sexy or about who can wear less clothes. That’s what every other video about. It’s about explaining the song and living the lyrics.” If by “explaining the song” she means “turning into a giant sexy-faced bird-woman and pretending we’re in Night at the Museum” I would say she has accomplished her goal. Because how else would you explain the nuance behind poetry like “I go through guys like money flyin’ out their hands?”

But let’s take a closer look at the visual content:

Our scene opens at what appears to be a museum. A couple walks in, toward the light, moving like moths to a flame.

But this, my friends, is no ordinary museum, as evidenced by the unusually attired guests. Is it possible to look at this and not think Lady Gaga ripoff? Maybe, but sadly that is the first thing that comes to mind. Which does not bode well for our “originality” category.

More bird brains. Could this be Miley’s way of critiquing how bland and thoughtless the intellectual world has become? Is she making a powerful statement about the feather-brained followers of fashion?

Doesn’t really matter though, because this is what they’re here to see. Miley, locked away from the world in a giant bird cage, curled up in her twiggy nest.

The audience claps politely. They have yet to feel the first twinges of guilt, poking into their backsides like so many sticks in Miley’s butt.

But the politely amused atmosphere doesn’t last long. Aves Cyrus, a rare species of twit, spreads her wings, doubtlessly shucking off layers of filth accumulated in that nasty cage.

This photographer has the right expression. It’s “what the jesus?” mixed with “oh shit, dude.” The unveiling of the “evolved” Miley Cyrus has been met with its natural reaction: complete confusion. Symbolically, she is pushing away fame, pushing off the yoke of oppression hoisted on her by one-to-many eager photographer, in favor of…

…a totally rad dance party! Complete with bird-people backup dancers! But everyone knows a real dance party needs one thing…

…Pole dancing! I actually love that Miley is able to poke fun at the whole Teen Choice Award ice-cream truck scandal. It is strange, however, that Miley’s way of asserting her independence seems to revolve (heh) so much around a pole.

The choreography is so heavy on the hair tossing that I was immediately transported back to junior high, when I thought flipping around my ponytail was the height of sex appeal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have Miley’s awesome buffount to play swish to-and-fro. While the hair and makeup is one of the few things about Tamed that I truly like, one must wonder whether she is playing subtle tribute to our girl Snooki with all that high hair. Or maybe it’s just full of secrets.

Now that all the gawkers have been scared off, Miley and her merry band of avian pranksters take to the halls of the museum, where they continue thrashing about and breaking shit. Obscured behind this cracked glass is a stuffed polar bear. Is Miley trying to make a statement about the devastation of the northern bear’s natural habitat? Perhaps the entire bird-theme is a way of announcing her entry into environmental activism.

On second thought, this seems pretty unlikely. Cyrus looks gorgeous strapped into her $25,000 corset made from “2,400 metal pieces and peacock feathers,” but how many birds had to lose their plumage for Miley to make this video?

In order to see Miley more clearly, we quickly stoop to her level. I suspect Miley is lying (frozen, on the floor) for reasons other than simply sex appeal – though this is certainly one of the more obviously sexy shots in the entire video. A silver corset may sound good in theory, but there is no way she can walk in that thing. Plus, it must be heavy. One-year-of-college-tuition worth of heavy.

Not to mention the fact that Miley is too busy practicing sexy-face with her backup dancers to worry about her outfit changes. I love their matching slack-jawed expressions. But while Miley engages us with her (winged, natch) eyes, he looks off to the side. Perhaps he is contemplating a career change? Or maybe he is wondering when he will be allowed out of this Roman warrior bird costume.

But he’s not Miley’s only paramour. She also sexes it up with a couple of ladies, and this wonderful fellow. Fine, feathered friends, indeed.

Fast-forwarding a little, we find ourselves back at the cage, where they do some rather acrobatic pole dancing.

Exhausted from leading her troop of circus performers in a romp around the Natural History Museum, Cyrus returns to her nest for a little rest.

And so we end just where we began. Miley has crawled back into her cage and returned to her pile of twigs. Interestingly, while she frequently flexes her wings throughout the video, we never got to see Aves Cyrus actually take flight. Maybe, like penguins, the Aves Cyrus is a species that lacks the ability to take to the air. And this is probably the most fitting symbolism of the entire video. While it may mark the “next step” in Miley’s evolution, it still feels rather immature. She is not quite ready to leave the nest and venture out on her own. She may be able to play with her cage, but even her forays into pole-dancing haven’t entirely distanced her from her young viewers. She’s growing up awkwardly, and nothing makes that more clear than this “sexy” video.

Click to viewBut watch the whole thing, and judge for yourself.

Exclusive: Miley Cyrus’ “Can’t Be Tamed” Video World Premiere! [E!]

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