Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Shirley Manson: Cyrus c'est moi

There's been an interesting contribution to the chatter about Miley Cyrus from Shirley Manson:

Manson said: “I disagree in some ways with how Miley has been castigated. I think it’s a very complex issue.

“But put it this way - when I was starting out with Garbage in the 1990s, I wore see-through dresses, and I used to grab my crotch and my boobs.

“Nobody batted an eyelid at the time. Nobody castigated me. But she has been treated like the antichrist.

“Artists make their own decisions and know there may be repercussions. It is up to them.”
It's tempting to say 'well, it's not quite the same', but there's a chance that what I mean is 'that was okay because I like Garbage'.

Even allowing for that, though, there's surely some differences, not least of which is the sort of image Shirley and Miley had. Sure, Shirley had a strong, sexual image - but would you have seen her doing Robin Thicke's rape song with her ass in his groin? Would you have given much for Thicke's chances if he'd even asked?

There's a risk in assuming that there's just sexual and not-sexual, rather than a range of different motivations, audiences, messages and attitudes and trying to use a binary filter leads you into the sort of on/off switch of David Cameron's porn filter. It's possible to defend Cyrus' right to artistic self-expression while still not being convinced that it is self-expression.

If Cyrus is delivering her own vision, there's surely a strange coincidence in how much that vision looks like it's the next step in a sideboob arms race with Katy Perry and Lady GaGa.

The wisdom or otherwise of Shirley's suggestion that Miley knows what she's doing, and knows the potential repercussions - well, we'll find out if that's the case over the years to come. Let's hope she's right.

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