Miley Cyrus Takes Her Party In The USA To Occupy Wall Street


Miley Cyrus, "Liberty Walk" (live in 2010)

Cyrus herself is a great guide as to how the image of an anti-capitalist movement could make so much sense next to the processed guitars and gloopy affirmations of "Liberty Walk." The anti-establishment rhetoric of the 1960s, once so controversial and divisive, has been processed by children's entertainment into a kind of self-esteem builder, rebellion turned from a political stance into the mark of a well-rounded personality. You can see it in Miley's signature flashing of the peace sign, the righteous questioning of Cold War foreign policy becoming a wish for everything to be chill y'all, and you can see it in the sign displayed as the video's final image, its tweenishly hand-markered text reading "WE CAN CHANGE THIS WORLD... IMAGINE," with the text interrupted by a red heart. That evocation of John Lennon's most thoroughly neutered expression of leftism, and the resonance it apparently had for Miley (and apparently no one else), makes total sense if you're even passingly familiar with the dynamics of tween shows: kids are free, fun, and in touch with the world, while adults are clueless, boring, and full of needless rules. In the 1960s, adults were a sort of stand-in for political leaders, but now adults are just adults.

It's no accident that the video focuses not on the more staid moments of the protests, but almost exclusively on police confrontations. A bunch of hippies camping in a park is every stereotype you could have of a radical protest, but authority figures preventing young people from expressing themselves sounds like the plot of half the shows the Disney Channel has ever run. This is to say that the protesters made the movement acceptably progressive, but it took the police to make it all-American. (In one shot, a cop is literally tearing an American flag away from a guy trapped on the ground.) The ultimate effect of all that pepper-spraying and "kettling" has been to create an overwhelming body of images connecting the protesters to characters and narratives we've been culturally conditioned to see as heroic. Members of Occupy Wall Street now plausibly seem like the subject of a Miley Cyrus song.

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perspective. If you think that success for Occupy involves becoming truly mainstream, then Miley's video is fantastic news. Getting Michael Moore on board doesn't broaden your message much, but Miley Cyrus' support brings the movement to people who normally don't care about politics. (In a rare twist, it's worth reading the comments attached to the video's YouTube posting, which have somehow become a deliberation on the movement's meaning.) If, on the other hand, you're the type to worry about the movement being co-opted, watered down, or misinterpreted, this is cause for worry. There is, or could be, a robust critique of the role of corporations in modern democracy at the heart of OWS and its offshoots, but that is simply unsustainable at this level of exposure. If Miley Cyrus can glom onto the movement's message so easily, then it's unlikely to be particularly complex. Either way, though, Miley Cyrus making a video in support of Occupy Wall Street seems to be a far more important development than it's being given credit for. Where the hell do you go from there?

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16 comments
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Redwoodhippie
Redwoodhippie

Thank you Miley for taking a stand.

Miley Cyrus deserves credit for showing her support for the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I do hope she decides to accept the invitation from Priscilla Grimm, co-editor of "The Occupied Wall Street Journal”, to visit an Occupy encampment or gathering to express her support in person and on the ground. The Occupy Movement offers humanity the best chance it has of getting its relationship with Mother Earth back into a sustainable balance. The greed of Wall Street and the elites aggressive geopolitical resource wars using our tax dollars and our young people to provide easier access to other people’s oil for the benefit of energy corporations and military contractors are preventing us as a species from finding a path of coexistence with the other species on Earth. If we in the United States or elsewhere are to have a democracy then we have to honor the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech so we can compare ideas and choose an equitable and environmentally sustainable path forward. I and the rest of the Occupy Movement want to see some social justice that allows us to be participants in our social dialogue and allows us to have a middle class. We need to get our society back to democratic dialogue and environmental sustainability if we are to leave a livable planet for future generations.

Booomaroo
Booomaroo

She's breaking away from the illuminati and apparently has been for a while now....hopefully. 

Jiggmynigg
Jiggmynigg

wow nice computer singing. i love "Computer"'s voice.   Oh and isn't "All right... ya ya  " from one more time Daft Punk ? Hey ya it is. wow. least original song ever?

Aguilera
Aguilera

What the heck does she try to do in this way?  Is it kind of speculation to get more attention?

Christopher London, Esq.
Christopher London, Esq.

I am a white man, an Ivy League educated attorney who worked on Wall Street and at one point made great money, not 1% money but more than I saw folks making while I was growing up in Queens and Brooklyn. I stand with folks like Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren who formerly taught at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, which I attended. While I respect that it is perhaps hip to be rather snarky, indifferent and dismissive of Miley Cyrus' relevance fact is that she is one of the few mainstream artists that has sided publicly with Occupy Wall Street. She deserves credit for standing on the right side of human history. In the words of Rob below: "I'm no Miley Cyrus fan, but to my mind it's a bit elitist to even criticize this video. I give her credit for taking a stand." So many of the mainstream artists who one would consider part of the culture of distraction have literally NOTHING of import to say. And that says more about where those selfish whores stand. They want to continue to get paid.  I expect more critical analysis from the Village Voice than to dismiss her as espousing ill informed leftist beliefs. Norman Mailer would have wiped his rear end with this piece of mainstream propaganda and told you to go phuck yourself.  If most of the people who read this page truly understood how deeply corrupt the alliance is between Wall Street and Government, there would be people hanging in the streets of Lower Manhattan and Police would be storming the Capital in D.C. with riot gear to rip the immoral charlatans from their smug indifferent perches of power where they piss all over the hopes and dreams of the American people. 

stephanie
stephanie

i think it's important to distinguish why radiohead's support is a bit less hypocritical. they literally gave away one of their albums for free, allowing download based on a sliding scale basis. those who can pay more do, and those who can't can get it for free, and the album had amazing success and they still made money off of it. miley cyrus on the other hand has built an empire on capitalism. you can find her blond alter-ego on thousands of products, which bring in money for massive corporations. so you really can't compare the two.

i also think that you can't throw a techno-pop song above video clips and claim you're aware. that does nothing, let's face it. even the video clips chosen, as noted, are of protester-cop interactions. the occupy movement was not started to fight police brutality. it is something that has inhibited our movement and freedom to speak, yes, but if miley cyrus really supported the ideas of occupy, she needs to bring awareness on how we can move forward to redistribute wealth and fund welfare programs. sure, the most "exciting" parts of the movement are clashes, and marches, and big protests... but where we actually bring about change is during general assemblies and meetings and drafting letters and meeting with administrations and where we talk about REAL TANGIBLE CHANGE. if she came to a GA meeting, then i would be more willing to believe her commitment to the cause. 

Azalp Yerbua
Azalp Yerbua

I understood about 1% of what she was singing.

Rob
Rob

I'm no Miley Cyrus fan, but to my mind it's a bit elitist to even criticize this video. I give her credit for taking a stand.

nick m
nick m

this is really good, and I think you’re right in saying that this isn’t really out of character—or at least, it’s a logical extension of miley’s character. “liberty walk” is the obvious choice for the pro-OWS video, but here are some verses buried inside of other songs on Can’t Be Tamed: “I wanna fly,I wanna drive,I wanna goI wanna be a part of something I don't knowAnd if you try to hold me back I might explodeBaby, by now you should know” “I can't tell you what the future holdsOr how to liveAll I know is what feels right lights up my life again and again” “robot” is particularly potent: “You mistake the game for being smart,Stand here, sell this and hit your mark.But the sound of the steel and the crush and the grindIt all screams to remind who decides my life” and “Stop trying to live my life for meI need to breatheI'm not your robotStop telling me I'm part of the big machineI'm breaking freeCan't you see” as is “my heart beats for love”: “And I've been told at least a thousand timesIt's not worth struggleThe hurt or the troubleI keep running up to these front linesNo, I won't surrenderI'll wait here forever”…Standing here with my flag held highOh, can't you see that it's worth the fight?” there’s also a song called “who owns my heart,” presumably for all you reification fans out there. so while I agree with your claim that “The fascinating thing here isn't Miley Cyrus being into OWS; it's that being into OWS scans so easily as ‘normal’ that support for the protests slips so easily into the mainstream of pop culture,” I think the relationship might be a little more reciprocal. the fact that these songs were recorded in 2010 (unlike, say, that third eye blind dud) seems to suggest less that OWS created something and the culture industry mobilized to co-opt it than that there has been a some sort of nebulous resentiment floating in the air for a while know, and that OWS has picked up on that, before it began to circle back towards pop music. the only thing I’d like to question here is the move to examine the song via Cyrus’s possible sincerity, because ultimately, I think question is besides the point and would guess that 95% of that co-option of dissent was totally sincere. as was, say, the third eye blind song and jay-z occupy all streets t shirts. and while miley cyrus may not personally profit from this song, it remains opportunistic when considered structurally, as an attempt (albeit totally sincere) by—whatever you want to call it: the culture industry, the 1%, Disney, etc—to enter a space from which it had been deliberately excluded. (I hestitate to use the word ‘opportunistic’ because of its moral undertones but you get what I mean) still, I think the idea of—I’m not quite sure how to say this—liberating the radical potential buried in these songs is a really exciting one! much better than strumming pete seeger songs on an sticker-coated acoustic guitar

maura
maura

"Norman Mailer would have wiped his rear end with this piece of mainstream propaganda and told you to go phuck yourself."

Surely I'm not the only person to see the massive amounts of irony packed into this statement? Oh, hierarchies of "hipness" and "rebellion," you never cease to amuse.

maura
maura

They did not give the album away for free. They offered up a low-quality download on a "pay what you like" basis for a limited time, and then they sold the record through conventional outlets. And Radiohead were already pretty famous when they engaged in this experiment -- and they got famous through those capitalistic channels you deride. What's the chance that they would have been as successful with their stunt had they *not* already been well-known?

freezing
freezing

not sure if you're a troll

Christopher London, Esq.
Christopher London, Esq.

Yes, I take major umbrage with the assertion that Miley Cyrus' creation aimed at the Occupy Wall Street movement is based on some rather "vague, ill informed leftist beliefs." Whatever you think of Cyrus, she does not deserve what amounts to a donkey punch for showing more cajones than the vast majority of white establishment men or women or hipsters posing as intellects.  Fact is that the young people of this city and this country who have awakened in a world where there is less opportunity have examined the rigged game with a greater degree of circumspection than the older generation that continues to bang their head against the wall without stepping back and reflecting on  the society that we helped to create with the digestion of Ronald Reagan's deceptive sloganeering in the 1980's beginning with his campaign closer Are You Better Off Now? https://www.facebook.com/AYBON...

stephanie
stephanie

right, so maybe they can't start handing it out for free to the world, but they definitely experimented in ways to get it out to the public. and they have made lots of money off their loyal fan base, people who pay to see them in concert and buy their album. i'm not saying they are perfect in the least bit, but they don't exploit young women by selling mass produced dolls and toys with a fake blond plastered all over it. i think anyone could see the differences in where the two artists stand. it's not like i walk into walmart's toy section and find radiohead dolls all over the place, nor do they have to brainwash young women into thinking they aren't pretty unless they are wearing blond wigs and sparkly dresses. because that's what my cousins feel. but i've never met anyone who has felt bad about who they are directly because of radiohead. 

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