Are Miley Cyrus & Rebecca Black Two Horsewomen Of The Party Culture Apocalypse?
I do not mean to insinuate that Miley Cyrus and Rebecca Black look at all like horses. They are two very attractive young women and they do no resemble any equine mammals that I know of. But I just read this essay about how Black and Cyrus are destroying everything good about party culture, so I felt the horsewomen of the apocalypse thing was a good direction to go. Bear with me.
The essay, titled "How Miley Cyrus and Rebecca Black's 'Saturday' Are Ruining Party Culture," was written by Matt Patches and appeared on The Date Report on Monday. It is funny and well-written and you should read it.
The essay delves into the ways in which pop culture's depiction of wild parties has changed in the past decade or two, and argues that this change is detrimental or disrespectful to the thriving personal connections that can be built at parties. As Patches writes, "'Saturday' is the harbinger of party culture’s demise, a landscape now unfit for expressions of friendship, sexuality, and romance."
This got me thinking. Cyrus and Black are the centerpiece to this argument. More specifically, their music videos for "We Can't Stop" and the more recent "Saturday." Even more specifically the house parties therein, and the utter debauchery depicted. "This is ironic partying," the piece says. "The impersonal worst-case-scenario that’s about losing one’s mind, weaponizing sexuality, and destroying the world around them."
It’s about selfies, not corner conversations with random strangers. It’s about dancing alone in slow motion in the middle of ogling nobodies, not the joy of the perfect pop hit inciting everyone to throw caution to the wind, move their bodies, and sing along.
This is then contrasted to the party scene in the seminal teen classic 10 Things I Hate About You, in which people have actual conversations. Which, yeah, is different than what Cyrus is doing.
But is it really all that different than what Black's doing? Because take a look at the music video for "Saturday":
There's nothing in this video that says that Rebecca Black is in this to block out the personal connection. In fact, much of the video surrounds her fun-filled interactions with her friends. Seems like personal connection to me, no matter how (underage-)drunk they might have been the night before.
I don't think we're doomed just yet. Yes, even we millennials may harbor some concern for our younger metaphorical sisters and brothers, but really, that's par for the course as any older generation looks at the younger one, and unless they're using that new drug krokodil, they're no more doomed than the generations before them unless you're talking landing a job come Monday.
What we're seeing through Cyrus — and through Katy Perry's sliiightly older "Last Friday Night" video probably even more than Black's "Saturday" — isn't really an indication of a mass change in party dynamics. If you watch scenes from 1985's Weird Science you'll see a party just as destructive and self-centered as those portrayed in these music videos, and that was par for the course in another decade in which pop culture depictions of the young were rampant and iconic.
What we have here is a trend for raves. I know this because I watch Teen Wolf, which I hear is a show very hip with the young whippersnappers these days, and they had a rave, too:
Raves are very popular, in that they allow characters — and pop stars, and people in real life — to lose themselves and their inhibitions for a little bit while their thoughts are blotted out by dubstep. But they don't stop shows from also having small houseparty episodes, or people from attending non-apocalyptic real-life houseparties. And they certainly don't stop people from having real conversations should that be what they desire.
Lucky for everyone, we do not actually live in a world in which Miley Cyrus is our ruler. The same can be said, thank goodness, for Rebecca Black. Luckily for everyone, what we see in music videos has often been far removed from what we see when we roll over to a friends' house party on a Satruday night. No amount of selfies or exhibitionist vamping will get in the way of the time-honored tradition of trying to talk to a crush over blaring music while sitting on a beer-encrusted couch. That one's a classic.
Pop culture has always served as a sort of mirror for what's going down in society. And sure, right now we live in a world where Miley Cyrus is going to grind up against whomever or whatever she wants and sign about doing molly.
That mirror I mentioned, though, is often a funhouse mirror, so when it comes to how these videos are going to spread their messages throughout real party culture, I think our personal connections are safe for now. No matter how many times Cyrus tries to stick her tongue up in it.
(I apologize for that image)