Cheap Tits – Celebrities, Cyber-Sexuality and Cyrus

This is the artwork for Lady Gaga’s new single. Just this.

Miley Cyrus Hammer XWHY

With that in mind, my opening statement is going to be almost as obvious as hers – Lady Gaga does not appeal, in any way, to the straight male demographic. While she’s not exactly everyone’s cup of tea, there are plenty of women out there who admire her and appreciate her music, and she’s kind of a big deal in the gay scene. However, she really doesn’t chime with heterosexual men, and that’s not just because of her music.

LADY-GAGA-MICAlthough… it’s a good place to start.

Seeing as our society essentially evaluates female celebrities based on their sex appeal – a notion that Gaga’s new sleeve artwork doesn’t exactly dispel – it’s interesting that straight men by and large don’t find her attractive. In theory, she’s pretty alluring: her wardrobe, her dance routines, pretty much her entire persona is built on heterosexual notions of hypersexuality – yet you’d be hard pushed to find a straight guy who professed to find her attractive.

The genius of this is that it was her plan all along. Gaga has made straight sexiness unsexy…and she knows it. She asexualised conventional notions of what heterosexual men consider arousing, and it’s this aggressive defiance of the status quo that makes her phenomenally popular among gay guys, and…rather less so among straight ones.

Gaga CFDA XWHY

Now, I write for XWHY so I’m fairly anti-lad, but I’m sure there are plenty of red-blooded, banter-spouting, polo shirt-wearing chaps who disapprove of a woman being overtly sexual without actually giving them a boner. This is evidenced by the earliest backlash against her which, in case you’ve forgotten, was the rumour that she still had a dick. Apparently, this was the most obvious reason that heterosexuality could come up with for not finding her attractive.

Of course, Gaga shrugged off those rumours and laughed all the way to the bank. She doesn’t need the sexual approval of the straight demographic – she has plenty of people willing to buy her music based on her penchant for wearing outfits that Liberace might have considered a bit much. What she does need is the publicity that her hypersexual outfits generate – her song ‘Paparazzi’ might as well have been a mission statement.

Calculated exploitation of society’s obsession with sex is a well-worn route in the music industry – cheers for that, Madonna – but in its way, it can be empowering for the female artist. Realising that our collective ability to concentrate has all but disappeared, Gaga went to necessary extremes with her ever more outrageous provocations in order to hold our attention. She set this decade’s paradigm for female artists, but unfortunately the glut of imitators that followed largely missed the point – instead of exploiting the masses, they ended up exploiting themselves. Thanks to a rash of publicity-hungry female celebrities (and their agents) pushing what they see as Gaga’s template to extremes, female hypersexuality has become as old hat as…the expression “old hat.”

It’s pretty much devolved into a competition by this point – quite a few celebrities have risen to prominence this year alone through this perverse one-upmanship. I can only assume that Amanda Bynes was famous for being something other than an Internet car crash, but I know her as the girl who tweeted selfies of her tits while insulting Rihanna, and nothing more. Ri-Ri herself seems to be so intent on revealing every square inch of her body that I wouldn’t be surprised if she starts Instagramming X-rays of her internal organs, while Nicky Minaj’s trademark ‘wacky’ costumes increasingly seem to consist exclusively of tit tape and prayers.

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We’ve now reached an unfortunate situation where female celebrities feel they have to act this way in order to stay relevant. And frankly, I’m far less shocked by their behaviour than by the coruscating public reaction to it. I can’t fathom how our society has managed to create a scenario where these women actively seek our attention as a reward, despite the fact that in order to obtain it they’re guaranteed to have abuse heaped on them.

Unfortunately it’s not only anonymous Internet dicks calling them whores – major publications rail against these women, hoping to convince the public that their moral outrage is a reflection of public opinion rather than just a shallow attempt to sell copies. These celebrities shouldn’t have to tolerate such a vile reaction from the very audience that has obliged them to behave this way.

The hypocrisy of this culture has been exposed recently by Miley Cyrus, with whom you’re no doubt familiar if you’re a human capable of feeling embarrassment. She has tried to shake off the shackles of child stardom with laughably over-the-top attempts at underlining her sexuality – because that’s what adult female celebrities do, right?!, but because that makes everyone feel a bit uncomfortable, she’s become an Internet punchline. Naively, she looked at what her contemporaries were doing and attempted to match them – with the added gimmick of off-putting hammer licking – but the public that she’s trying to seduce remains unconvinced because we know her as a “good girl”.

You’d think that by following the Gaga formula (sex + outrage = publicity), Miley might have successfully shed her Disney chrysalis, but instead she was universally ridiculed. Apparently, we view female celebrities purely through the age-old Angel-Devil dichotomy  – they are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, or rather ‘chaste’ and ‘slutty’, and if they try to embrace the other side then they face yet more opprobrium. According to this easy-to-follow system, Miley acting sexy is as ridiculous as the thought of Gaga dressing up in an outfit made of children’s characters.

Lady-Gaga-kermitActually, that is pretty ridiculous.

The point is that defining human beings in such broad parameters is as ineffective as it is primitive. We’ll tolerate Katie Perry using her tits for prop comedy or Gaga slapping her arse on a CD sleeve, but when Miley Cyrus tries to follow their lead she’s shouted down; she’s a Disney child, she can’t become a ‘normal’ hypersexualised female celebrity. And that’s the real issue – our perception of how female celebrities should conduct themselves, our definition of ‘normal’, is way too far removed from reality. Maybe these celebrities had a hand in creating this culture, but it really shouldn’t have come to this.

Having a completely warped, unrealistic depiction of female sexuality as ‘the norm’ doesn’t help anyone. It’s demeaning to women, it keeps men’s attitudes firmly rooted in the dark ages, and the less said about its effect on the expectations of children, the better. I’m not strictly blaming the celebrities for the way that our boorish voyeurism has forced them into offering up as much of their bodies as possible for judgement – they’re doing it consciously in a desperate bid for our approval. I’m saying that as a society it’s pretty obvious that we need to reassess our attitude towards women and how we perceive their value. We live in a world where one of our most famous female pop singers opts to cover her album with a photo of her arse instead of her face. What does that say about our priorities?

WORDS: James Barton

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