Miley Cyrus vs. the National Film Board of Canada

Pas de deux


The recent social media tsunami over Miley Cyrus is simultaneously amusing and ridiculous. We live in an age when there must be a new, national cause célèbre every week or somebody ain’t doing their job right.  Our attention spans are shrinking faster than the world’s oil reserves.

From a brand storytelling POV, however, Miley Cyrus (or whoever pulls her stings) is a genius. As they used to say when print was king, “It doesn’t matter what they say about you, as long as they spell your name right in the newspapers.” (If it weren’t for search engines, not even spelling names correctly would matter today.) So, everybody seems to have an opinion about Miley. Even me.

You may debate whether this woman’s performances recently on television and in music videos are in bad taste, or vulgar (whatever that means).  They’ve gone viral, liquid. Today, that’s enough. (Vogue covers? who cares?)

Her performance on TV recently was painfully obvious from a “sexual” perspective. Her new “Wrecking Ball” music video is at least more artful. She does have a nice voice. And the video, while pandering and simplistically symbolic, is well photographed and framed. (Big deal, she’s “naked.” She, like 7.2 billion others on the planet, is nude when she disrobes.)

The essential issue, I think, comes down to beauty, or its absence. While there are microscopic traces of beauty in Miley’s recent music video, there are none in her TV performance.

As a counterpoint, I suggest those with time to watch four minutes of video direct your gaze to the incomparable Norman McLaren’s 1968 National Film Board of Canada short film “Pas de deux” (part 2) to see how a wordless filmed dance performance can be thrillingly beautiful, provocative and share-worthy. This film also, ironically, like Miley’s TV performance, shows a man getting up close and personal behind a lithe, bent over young woman. If you like that, you might boldly try seeing the slower (it builds) part one of the same film on YouTube.

My point is there’s nothing wrong with shaking your booty. But, as humans, we need to put some attention toward beauty, less it die on the web. McLaren wanted to show the human spirit can fly when our innate desire for tenderness, sweetness and passion are unleashed. Perhaps Miley wanted to show that if you have an itch to scratch (the TV performance) or need to vent (the music video) you can do that, too.

Honoring the 80/20 rule, most of the time, I’d rather watch McLaren. If you want to see Miley’s new video, it’s below, with the links to McLaren’s film. 

What’s your definition of beauty?

Pas de deux, Part 2

Pas de deus, Part 1

Miley Cyrus, Wrecking Ball

Miley Cyrus isn't the queen of dance performance