Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Leave Miley Cyrus alone, she just needs a little sound advice

Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus

It has been seven(ish) hours and 42 days since Miley Cyrus twerked in a nude latex bikini at the MTV Awards. In those 42 days, a lot has happened; most noticeably the pop star has released a single and video in which she licks a sledgehammer and straddles a wrecking ball in the nude.

So far, it has received 183 million hits on Vevo – a record-breaking 19.3 million of them in the first 24 hours alone.

In the meantime, as the internet buzzes with people liking and stridently hating Cyrus's work, the spectacle of a 20-year-old former child star publicly discovering her identity and sexuality has become well-nigh unavoidable.

Depending on where you stand on the issue, it has thrown an ugly light on to society's knee-jerk misogyny, or on to its voracious appetite for celebrity trash.

Either way, it was practically inevitable that, at some point, all of the many tweets and comments and warnings from (yes) Elton John would coalesce into an open letter.

Attention-seeking, solipsistic, viral-prone and the very polar opposite of private, nothing encapsulates the times we live in more than an open letter.

This open letter came from the keyboard of pop star-turned-papal scourge Sinead O'Connor. Miley Cyrus has acknowledged the Irish singer's Nothing Compares 2 U video as an influence on her own Wrecking Ball.

In return, O'Connor wrote an open letter – "in the spirit of motherliness and love" – to tell Cyrus that she is obscuring her talent by allowing herself to be "pimped" by greedy male record company executives and – worse still – that she is sending a "prostitution is cool" message to her young female fans.

"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 more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent," she wrote, sensibly.

Miley Cyrus, like most young women who are told to put on some more clothes and stop messing about, didn't take the advice too well at all.

In fact, she took it with some ill grace, tweeting: "Sinead, I don't have time to write you an open letter, because I'm hosting and performing on SNL [Saturday Night Live] this week."

She also compared O'Connor to the troubled actress Amanda Bynes and shared a picture of O'Connor tearing up a picture of the Pope on SNL in 1992. (The latter, I think, just proving that there are more ways for pop stars to get people talking about them than with latex and licking).

Events then took a turn for the slangy, when O'Connor wrote back, again openly, to take exception to Cyrus mocking mental illness.

It will most likely rumble on for some time yet.

And we will most likely continue to eavesdrop – willingly, or not.

One thing Sinead O'Connor is right to question is just who is advising Cyrus.

The list of child stars turned car crashes continues to grow and yet the entertainment industry continues to refuse to take responsibility.

Miley Cyrus may be being exploited by lecherous A&R men; she may be doing it all by herself. Either way, she is 20 years of age and grown-up advice is what she – like every 20-year-old – needs.

Should that come in an open letter and the media circus that brings, or a private note from someone who knows her?

If we're really talking about motherliness and love, the answer to that question is patently clear.

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