About

Teen star Miley Cyrus came to fame as a family-friendly Disney character in “Hannah Montana”. As time progressed, she began to cultivate a more adult and sexualized image, like famous pop stars Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera before, as well as Selena Gomez and many more after. The release of this video in 2010 was the biggest signal that Cyrus was ready to break from her “good girl” Disney image. Sporting teased hair and dark bird wings, she calls herself the “rarest creature on earth, in captivity for the first time”, before she breaks free from the cage in a skimpy leotard, singing, “I can’t be tamed/I can’t be blamed/I can’t be changed.”

Discussion

Should young pop stars like Cyrus feel responsible to not display an overly sexual image to her many young fans? Why or why not? What do you think are the reasons that Cyrus decided to change her image so drastically from her earlier Hannah Montana days?

How do the lyrics of the song fit together with the images? What does Cyrus refer to when she says she “Can't Be Tamed” – is this interpretation different when the video is added to the music alone?

Critique

Cyrus is clearly undergoing the now-classic “good girl gone bad” image transition. Regardless of whether Cyrus owes anything to her younger fans, given the predictability of this pattern, it becomes important to ask whether this transformation was part of her natural progression into individualized adulthood, or just another carefully-crafted part of a star system that places overwhelming emphasis on sexuality above all else. These questions are not meant to shame the stars or their fans, but rather to interrogate the systems that create these highly recognizable patterns that nevertheless occur before their young fans’ eyes.