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O’Connor v. Cyrus


LOOMIS, J. announced the opinion of the Court.

JUSTICE ARGUE with whom JUSTICE LEMIEUX joins, dissenting.

Miley Cyrus grew up in a showbiz family. She has been a massive star ever since she was 13 years old. Her performance at the VMAs became the most-talked about entertainment story of the year. She currently has the #1 song in America, for the second consecutive week.

The idea that Miley Cyrus needs Sinead O’Connor to explain to her how the industry works is preposterous. I’m sorry, but the idea that Miley Cyrus has never previously considered the possibility that “The music business doesn’t give a shit about you” or “None of the men ogling you give a shit about you either, do not be fooled” is a joke.

I should add that I’m not dismissing the idea that childhood stardom often creates its own set of problems. That doesn’t change the fact that O’Connor’s “open letter” is incredibly condescending and insipid.

JUSTICE LEMIEUX, dissenting.

I’m reluctant to criticize petitioner, a gifted artist who is presumably well-intentioned. But in addition to the condescension identified by JUSTICE ARGUE, her argument seems regrettably influenced by the “selling out” fallacy as well as by pseudo-feminist puritanism. Of course the suggestive dancing and partial nudity of her recent appearances and videos is making money for men who are looking out for their own interests. Since this is true of pretty much any relationship between a popular artist and any commercial third party that distributes their art, this is worthy of particular concern only if 1)there is reason to believe that Cyrus is unusually uninformed or unusually exploited or 2)if suggestive dancing or partial nudity on the part of women is uniquely problematic when promoting art. #1, for the reasons my Brother ARGUE explains, is clearly false. As for #2, this Court clearly ruled in the American Viewing Public v. Keitel that an artist need not retain all profits from a commercial artistic endeavor if they are to appear nude. Until Republicans are successful at overruling United States v. Virginia this applies equally to women.

I should note that the wisdom or aesthetic merit of Cyrus’s choices are beyond the jurisdiction of this Court. Were my purely personal attitude relevant I would agree that the “Wrecking Ball” video has, alas, precisely the level of tastefulness and subtlety one would expect from a Terry Richardson production. The abysmal quality of the video, however, is not evidence of exploitation and the nudity per se is not the problem.  How much attention is merited to the fact that a promo video is somewhat dumb and tacky as if this were the exception rather than the rule I will leave to the reader. I note as well that this Court was not asked to address the potentially problematic minstrel show aspects of the VMA appearance.

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