Why we're all overreacting to Miley Cyrus's nudity in 'Wrecking Ball' video

Fresh off her VMA twerking performance, Miley Cyrus has released a new song and a video to go along with it. The song, called Wrecking Ball, has broken all sorts of records within the last 24 hours, having chalked up more than 38,000,000 views in only a day.

It became the most-viewed video on Youtube in only 13 hours. Also: she's naked for a lot of the video, so that may or may not have something to do with the song's popularity.

A screengrab from the Wrecking Ball music video. Image courtesy Youtube.

A screengrab from the Wrecking Ball music video. Image courtesy Youtube.

The video begins with Cyrus crying into the camera (rumours have flown that her song and tears have something to do with on-again, off-again boyfriend actor Liam Hemsworth), and the video then moves into a very literal visualisation of her lyrics.

'Breaking walls' and 'wrecking balls' are literally at play as Miley stands and sits in various states of undress surrounded by crumbling walls and debris.

Netizens, already riding the high of tearing Cyrus down for her 'twerking' performance, didn't take long to burst into collective outrage, as though Cyrus is the first popstar to ever strip in a music video. The Guardian fumes:

It is certainly not my place, as a 44-year-old man, to pronounce on how 20-year-old women should display their sexuality. But whatever her reasons for making the video, Cyrus does send a message: that the best way for young women to be noticed is to sexually objectify themselves. And, in this case – sadly – it seems to have worked.

Twitter of course, felt the force of Cyrus's wrecking ball:

Sexualisation! Objectification! Naked bodies! The horror! Cyrus is being treated like a pioneer breaking down walls (pun intended), getting naked and controversial, when she is literally following a blueprint that has been handed down over the years by female pop stars, from Madonna to Britney to Gaga, and now her.

The Guardian continued moaning about Cyrus, saying that she doesn't need to get naked for success. Hey, look at Taylor Swift, they said. She doesn't get naked to break records.

Let's just start out by saying that Swift, with her prince charming and victim complex, isn't exactly a feminist's fantasy. But she's a product as well - she just happens to be one that sells chastity and innocence rather than sexualisation. By putting one above the other, commentators are just feeding into the 'slut-shaming' that they would otherwise denigrate.

But getting back to Cyrus's nudity, admittedly just because something has been done before by other musicians doesn't make it right. Cyrus is getting naked in a video (that too, a video directed by the decidedly tasteless photographer Terry Richardson) and selling sex. Doesn't this objectify women, and shouldn't it be called out wherever it's seen? She's not a bad singer, so why is she getting naked?

'Because she wants to and it's good for her career' is the most obvious answers. But that's never good enough for us. Female nudity is often dressed up as empowering when celebrities do it, but only when they're doing it for some greater good. Like getting it all off for PETA - if this doesn't help the animals, what will?

Or perhaps when actors and models hit their forties, they like to get naked to 'empower women', something both Kate Winslet and Heidi Klum have done. When it's something as self-serving as 'It helps me make money', or 'I work out a lot and want to show it off', it doesn't sit as well with the virtual jury. Men on the other hand, get away with all sorts of naked shenanigans and are treated with a 'Boys will be boys' shrug. Cyrus getting naked isn't anti-feminist, our reaction to her doing it is.

As much as we would all like to rip down the patriarchy and make sure fully-clothed pop stars standing at a microphone also break records and get as much press as Cyrus does, going by her Youtube views, it's probably not happening any time soon. Literally every one of Cyrus's would-be peers - Madonna, Pink, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, to name a few - have sat naked in bathtubs, laid naked in a bed, or just plain danced naked.

Our collective outrage is unnecessary, over-the-top and fun to do, but it's also the key to Cyrus's success. Any press is good press, and while we criticise, Cyrus is twerking all the way to bank.

(You can be the 38,000,001st person to watch the video below.)