VIEWS: 1 PAGES: 5 POSTED ON: 7/11/2011
Alyssa Martin May 27, 2010 BIS 333 Prof. Susan Harewood Narrative Analysis: “Can't Be Tamed” Miley Cyrus' music video for her single “Can't Be Tamed” is about over coming societal pressures and expectations and coming into your own identity, being free to define who you are for yourself and no one else. Through examination and analysis of Cyrus' video the message of individuality and identity formation was very clear and present. Through further analysis and explanation of characterization, symbolism, representation, and ideologies, this individualistic theme will become even more evident by viewing the processes behind it. Miley Cyrus' music video for her song “Can't Be Tamed” begins by opening up to a formal black tie event at a natural history museum. With all the attendees gathered around a large covered bird cage the curator announces the new exhibit, a rare creature, “Avis Cyrus” (Miley Cyrus), that is being held in captivity for the first time. The cage is unveiled and inside a large bird nest sits this creature. Noticing the audience, Cyrus gets up and walks towards them. A photographer snaps a picture. In doing so the flash goes off causing Cyrus to shield and cover herself with her large wings. At this point the music begins to play and Cyrus along with a slew of back up dancing begin to dance and escape out of the cage. The group of wild creatures storm through the museum hall ways trashing the other exhibits along the way. After wrecking havoc on the place, Cyrus returns to her cage at the conclusion of the song and the video ends. In her video, Cyrus plays the character of “Avis Cyrus.” This character is introduced as being a very rare creature that was actually thought to have been extinct. This rare creature being, in fact, a bird. This is apparent as she is wearing wings, is in what is typically known as a bird cage, the term “Avis” is in her name which actually means “bird”, and the use a feathers in her costuming is abundant. Being such a rare creature, she appears to feel trapped and caged in like a prisoner. Observing her body language and facial expressions whilst trapped in her giant bird cage, she appears to be very uncomfortable and even angry. It is clear that she does not want to be trapped any longer as she eventually escapes the cage. Avis Cyrus comes of as being very dominant, aggressive, and is in a way masculine yet feminine at the same time. She is a very dominant character in that she is, for the majority of the video, wearing a leather leotard along with leather straps and other bondage like attire. Leather is typically associated with both male biker gangs and dominatrix fetish gear, both being very aggressive and masculine images. She is also dominant in that throughout the video she is front and center within her gang of backup dancers who are constantly following her lead. In the video Cyrus also display dominance through her dancing. She is constantly coming at you and is in your face wit her dance moves which consist of, among other things, fist pumping, pushing her dancers off of her, and all of the moves are done with very dark facial expressions, there is rarely if any smiling. Cyrus also displays her seductive feminine side with lighter and brighter colors in an outfit change during a scene where she is lying on her back caressing the skin above her chest all while staring and singing into the camera longingly. Other signs and symbols used in this video include a giant cage, the natural history museum setting, peacock feathers and the idea of a peacock, the bird characterization, the photographer and audience, and the usage of dark colors and lighting. Both the giant cage and the natural history museum setting symbolize feeling trapped and very much on display. This symbolism is reinforced by the audience and photographer as well. Cyrus, being a celebrity, in everyday life is always on display and under constant criticism. The audience in the video directly represents the audience of people who are constantly following her every move and mistake, while the photographer represents the paparazzi who capture her every move. Peacocks symbolize pride, beauty, vanity. Clearly Avis Cyrus is proud of the person (creature) she is and just wants to break free and be able to be herself. The characterization of being bird also represents her individuality and wanting to break free and fly away. The dark colors and lighting used in this video represents a large deviation from the character she typically plays on the Disney Channel, which signifies her escape from that persona to move in a new direction, one that is more true to who she it. Cyrus intentionally interpellates the audience into feeling like they are a part her video. Throughout the video she is constantly singing directly to the viewer who is essentially the person or persons who is holding her back. That person or persons being the man or men that are currently lusting after her as the lyrics state. Her constant eye contact with the camera and finger pointing at the camera suggests that she is sing directly to the view all while singing “don't change me” and “if you wanna be my man understand...” Through the lyrics and her body language Cyrus turns the viewer into the male she is singing to. In her video Cyrus contests the ideologies of individualism and feminism. Individualism the concept of is the overarching ideology present in this video. The lyrics of the song are about how she can't be tamed, how guys have tried to change who she was before, and how she is not going to change the person she is for any reason or for anybody. The plot and concept of the video reinforce the individuality of her lyrics. She has a large number of people trying to coop her up in a cage for their own amusement but she is so strong willed that she escapes. She refuses to conform to the expectations of others. Feminism and sexuality are also present in Cyrus' video. In the video Cyrus crosses typical gender barriers and norms. As a female she portrays a very dominant character and has both man and woman following her and lusting after her. In society women are not usually dominant beings nor any they usually able to be both dominant and feminine, but in her video she manages to pull it all off and still be sexy. Cyrus' video makes reference to a couple of other videos as well as to other artists. The line dancing and backup dancing Cyrus used in her video makes reference the dancing Michael Jackson had previously used in his videos “Thriller” and “Bad”. Some of the dance moves in Cyrus' routines seem to be directly from Jackson's “Thriller” video. Also, the concept of dancing and running throughout an empty space with a gang of backup dancers is also reminiscent of Jackson's “Bad” video and the concept of dressing the backup dancer up like wild animals resembles the ghouls in Jackson's “Thriller” video. Another artist Cyrus drew from was Lady Gaga as she followed suit on the weird is hot trend and the usage of robotic and other worldly seeming dance moves. In conclusion Cyrus' “Can't Be Tamed” music video strongly stresses the ideas of feeling trapped, being yourself, and not changing for anyone. Through looking at the characterization, symbolism, representation, and ideologies that exist within the video these themes are evident. The “Can't Be Tamed” video places a claim on reality that you can and should be exactly who you are and you want to be. This construction of reality ultimately effects anyone who is listening as it the take home message can ideally be applied to everyone. It can apply to the high school student who feels like she needs to give in to peer pressure and it can apply to Cyrus' critics in that she is not going to change who she is just so they will stop talking. Bibliography Can't Be Tamed. Dir. Hales, Robert. Perf. Cyrus, Miley. Hollywood Records: 2010, Film. Bad. Dir. Scorsese, Martin. Perf. Jackson, Michael. MJJ Productions Inc.: 1987, Film . Thriller. Dir. Landis, John. Perf. Jackson, Michael. MJJ Productions Inc.: 1982, Film.
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