What I have been thinking, this article from Jezebel said so much better than I could : “The problem with all these half-naked pop stars is that they fail, even as they succeed, because they are “artists” turning themselves into objects. Objects have no agency. Objects are disposable. Objects have no feelings. And although there is value in shock value — power in startling, provoking — the truth is, while the nightly news anchors may feign mild consternation, though talking heads may raise their brows, no one, no one is really surprised. What would be shocking: If Miley (or Rihanna! or Ke$ha!) enrolled in a university and learned how to make a point using the Socratic method. Jaws would drop.”
They don’t have to enrol in University, however. They could make intelligent points without it. Or not. They don’t owe us anything. But they are objectifying themselves, and by extension, millions of young, influenced young women. They set the bar at ridiculous levels for ‘cool’, ‘acceptable’, ‘fun’. We all remember being aching to be accepted teenagers. Listening to the voices of media. Watching the film clips that were our metric for what is the way to be.
I have no issues with artists like Amanda Palmer naked. She uses her body to convey messages, to relate to the music. She has enough strength of mind, and acquired wisdom, to understand and make considered choices. Not every young woman does. These young women just do it to shock, titillate, get milage, get valuable screen real estate – because some one said, “Honey, this will show the others”. Or, granted, because she thought that herself – but it is achingly obvious from the history of exploited female artists how often the entourage, the ‘momager’, the hangers on, the coterie of yes voices, can provide a sounding wall that only echoes back their own opinion that is driven by greed.
It is not limited to women – though the nudity aspect, the sheer objectifying is. One can see the boy bands, the desperate pasts and futures of those then unsuccessful, no longer marketed as the smart one, the cute one, the edgy one – the formulaic roles they get shoehorned into, as if they are of a single dimension. Perhaps it would be wiser to say a different objectifying does occur for males. Look at young Justin Beiber.
I meet wise and wonderful young women the same age as these artists every day. They are working hard to become engineers, educators, influencers. They would mock anyone selling them this story of objectification. Yet they are as prone to self image doubts due to the objects sold as perfection…
So what is next? What is the next boundary to push? As the article says: “Because at this point Miley would have to release close-ups of her clitoris or give us a laparoscopic tour of the inside of her vaginal canal for us to see something we haven’t seen before.” Or just show some dignity and creativity. Nudity is not the issue. The freak show aspect of nudity is.
And before we sink into the sin of despair, a companion piece from Jezebel. And there, we can ponder the nature of disability and limits, and it certainly asks who is beautiful in these images – indeed, it challenges us to think differently…