Miley Cyrus, one realizes when watching her "We Can't Stop" video, is no longer someone who just makes art. After all, I doubt she does much if any of the music or lyric writing on her songs, especially the big singles. She sings, of course, but her voice is digitally altered, sometimes in an overt way that anyone can hear (like when there's some vocoder sound added in) and her voice is also altered in more subtle ways to smooth out the rough edges. But the point is not whether or not Miley Cyrus is an artist, the point is that she herself is an art piece. She, her public image, her reputation, all of this forms an artistic medium. And on that medium, something bizarre has been created. Let's break down "We Can't Stop," the video.
0:18: Our first hint of weirdness. Some party girl releases a puff of smoke with her hands into the air, and that's not the weird part. That can happen in music videos, and, at this point, whatever. No, it's that the puff of smoke is centered around the girl's crotch. Not even in a sexy way, necessarily, more in a, yeah, that puff of smoke is right by that girl's crotch way.
0:27: A guy sort of eats hundred dollar bills. Cause he just don't give a damn. And he's actually eating a piece of bread. Poorly disguised illusions will be a theme as we go on.
0:34: We go a level weirder. The first part of the video is Miley Cyrus gyrating horizontally while singing and people who could loosely be described as partying because they don't give a damn (by eating money and producing balls of smoke out of nothing). Then "We Can't Stop" gets arty: these party people are constructing a skull out of french fries. That thing must have taken hours. These aren't just freewheeling partiers, Miley's friends are talented in a spooky way.
0:43: There's too much weird to report all of it, (the fry skull gets kicked, there's someone with a fake extra tongue), but at this point we get a new category of weird. The Miley shots had been close enough to standard sexy. They weren't standard sexy, but they were close enough. In this shot, Miley Cyrus and a friend are maybe pre-partying, and Miley starts spanking her friend, in a "this is maybe supposed to be sexy, but I dunno," way.
1:00: The weird goes up (down?) another level: someone cleanly slices their fingers off. Yeah. It's very clearly fake, but the fake adds to the weird. After the slice is made, pink ooze emerges from the hand.
1:15: The first appearance of the head. It's a digital white head that looks like it floated over from some early 90s low to middle budget sci-fi dystopia movie about how technology is taking our souls. It sings the chorus.
1:26: (Skipped some giant teddy bears and "it's almost like I'm actually having sex" Miley gyrations). "Twerk" spelled in alphabet cereal letters. Discuss.
1:27: I've been ignoring the lyrics up until now, but the lyrics combined with the video here create a weird "Miley Cyrus is down with black people" moment.
1:36: Stuffed fawn (or something) wearing giant glasses, reflected in a mirror multiple times in a circle.
1:48: Miley makes out with a Barbie doll (or something similar) in a pool. I can just imagine the director: "we want people to not know if it's supposed to be sexy or not."
2:00: Return of the crotch smoke! This time it's more overt. A guy is standing with a pipe producing smoke between his legs right by his crotch. Because we can't stop partying.
2:27: A guy who looks like he's tripping, lying on a pile of slices of white bread. He eats a piece of white bread like he's trying to seduce you, but he's also tripping.
(lots of repeated imagery: sci-fi dystopia head, giant teddy bears, Miley grabs the ass of a girl from the Miley is down with black people part)
The last thirty seconds are more standard party music video stuff. Either that or my brain was too fried by Miley Cyrus bizarrothon that I couldn't tell what was happening.
So, yeah, to be young again, when my friends had smoke coming out of their crotches, people danced with giant teddy bears on their backs and a giant dystopia head showed up to sing the chorus.