Alright, so there's a new Miley Cyrus video for "23", and it seems like this time Miley is just trying to get even more people to talk about her. Not only is she doing her whole "I'm not a kid anymore, I'm rebellious!" schtick, she's taken cultural appropriation to another level. There's still twerking, of course, but now we get to see Miley lazily rap. It'd be one thing if Cyrus was actually interested in rapping, but this seems like yet another notch for her to put on her "cool and urban" belt.
But other than the offensiveness of having to watch a bored, rich white kid rap, the video is actually pretty mundane. For someone who was born in the '90s, you think Miley would know: the high school music video has been done over, and over, and over again.
But however dull the concept, it's a pretty apt representation of where Miley is at right now. Most music videos set in high school revolve around socially acceptable rebellion and a fixation with coolness, both of which define Miley's newest phase. Before calling up Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa, Miley should have taken a look at these music videos to see who did it bigger and better.
Britney Spears — "...Baby One More Time"
The original pop diva with the original controversial high school video. Looking back at it now, it's hard to see what the fuss was all about. Other than the vaguely jailbait-y sequence at the beginning, it's all pretty much just crop tops and choreographed dance moves. Even the rebellion was pretty safe — there's a teacher in about two scenes wagging her finger at the kids for dancing (because this is Footloose, I guess?) but that's pretty much it. You can argue that it was a "simpler time," but Britney had just gotten out from under Disney's thumb. She was a long way off from "Slave 4 U." But really Miley, if you're going to do skimpy high school rebellion like Britney, at least have some cool dance moves.
My Chemical Romance — "I'm Not Okay"
Early 2000's pop punk and alternative bands were obsessed with high school. I'm using this video because it's the one I remember the most, but it could just as easily be Wheatus's "Teenage Dirtbag", or Simple Plan's "I'm Just a Kid", or Fall Out Boys' "Dance, Dance." The common theme? Nerds. These are the guys who got made fun of in high school, and they want you to know about it. Not exactly interesting, but at least they were clever. And a lot more convincing than...
Taylor Swift — "You Belong With Me"
Also see Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F)." These pop diva's interpretations of what they think a "high school nerd" is came off as a cartoonish stereotype (and in Taylor Swift's case, preachy and slut shame-y). These women definitely did not get made fun of in high school, and it shows. But even their videos have something that Miley's didn't: narrative.
C'mon Miley, if you're going to make me watch five minutes of your warped high school fantasy, at least give it a story.