NOT REAL-LIFE MUSIC VIDEO HOUSE PARTY SHOWDOWN: MILEY VS. SWIFT: PART 2 OF TWO-PART MEGA-POST
Taylor Swift’s 22 vs. Miley Cyrus’ We Can’t Stop: which video featured the least worst fake house party, scientifically speaking. Part 1 ended with the score tied at 2-2. We have five more categories with which to decide a champion. There will be a champion. I’M SO EXCITED I’M JUMPING RIGHT INTO THE SHOWDOWN:
EXERCISE METHOD: It’s not a party until that point past midnight when people start doing weird non-party-related things. Like exercise. Because they’re drunk. When drunk people get this urge, they most typically tend to wander outside and, voila, this is where we find the lovely Ms. Swift and a few friends piggy-back racing bicycles through her backyard.
Obviously this doubles as both orthodox exercise and an odd mating ritual, but alas it’s not particularly inventive. (You might ask how I can be so harsh judging drunk people’s inventiveness, but then I’ll show you this map of the world and you’ll shut up.) While the bikes place a nice modern spin on the practice, teenagers and twenty-somethings have been playing chicken in pools for awhile now. The fact is that Swizzle’s form of exercise still perpetuates old-fashioned gender norms and is waaaay too complicated for the average drunk person to pull off. The second part is more important. I’m about to call bullshit on this ever happening because somebody had to fall down, right?
Whereas on the other hand, it doesn’t take that much concentration to put together a good twerk. I mean, it’s not like it’s simply easy–you need a modicum of consciousness to do it right–but at least no one’s going to fall off your shoulders and onto her face if you slip up a second and also it’s not like Miley hasn’t been practicing this move lately. And why wouldn’t she be practicing it? It’s of the moment, the movement of 2013, which reminds you to ask yourself: What kind of music do I want to dominate the party? The newest, hottest stuff that me and all my friends know or some random 70s Beach Boys slow jam? Taylor’s exercise is the equivalent of the latter while Miley’s is way more fun and, well, fun to watch too. Swift 2 / Miley 3
BEACH BREAKDOWN SCENE: This category is kind of oddly specific and doesn’t totally apply to my house parties not located in Laguna Beach, but it totally applies to these two videos so I’m rolling with it: Swift and co. pregame chill on the beach at her house while Miley and her friends watch the sun come up from hers. Normally, I’ll side with the party that ends the night/begins the morning with the sun because that means it was a successful night. You can pregame on the beach all you want at 8 or 9 at night but it doesn’t make any difference in whether you’re about to set off on some awesome-enough-to-make-a-music-video kind of night. Miley’s night was epic enough for her to stay up until about 7 in the morning and heck, SHE WAS STILL DANCING AT 7 IN THE MORNING.
I can’t really deduct any points from Miley. It’s just that real-life circumstances completely outside of Miley’s control happen to make Swizzy’s beach breakdown scene better. You may have heard that Taylor has had a couple high-profile boyfriends and you may also have heard that she often writes mean songs about them when they become ex-boyfriends. Lots of average guys in the regular world, feeling threatened by this, therefore don’t like her. But she’s okay with that since she knows and we know that to those who love her, that pettiness is a large part of her appeal. But now that she’s hit career album number four with Red and is still singing about ex-boyfriends that she seems to go through nowadays faster than ever, a few fans are dropping off the bandwagon as opinions grows louder that she’s basically a heartless bitch caricature of a scorned lover whose songs ring hollower than ever.
Which means she needs to be more subtle.
Which she is.
Because her latest ex is Harry Styles from One Direction and this music video was made shortly after they broke up. So what does she decide to include in the 22 video? Just an innocent frolic on the beach at sunset with a couple of her best friends in the world. Kind of like, I don’t know, exactly what Harry did for the entire duration of What Makes You Beautiful.
What’s Taylor saying? She’s saying FUCK YOU AND YOUR BEACH FRIENDS HARRY, I GOT MY OWN AND YOU’RE NOT ON MY LEVEL.
And then she proceeds to party for the rest of the video and nobody bats an eye about the Styles jab because nobody noticed it. But I noticed it Taylor. That’s my bitch. Swift 3 / Miley 3
DEAD INSIDE-NESS FACTOR: We all know that cool kids are all dead inside. That’s a fact. You just don’t dance with giant teddy bears on your back unless you’ve reached some profound level of fuck it. And it’s a fact that once you’ve reached that level, you can’t help but dance with giant teddy bears on your back and you can’t help but be the coolest person. Finally, it’s a fact that, as empirically proven in Part 1, Miley’s party has cooler kids than Taylor’s and therefore her house guests are deader inside than the wholesome Ms. Swift’s. Did you forget what Miley’s “best friend” looks like? Let me refresh your memory:
The only question now is whether dead-inside party guests should be condoned. Who gets these points? Well, going back to Part 1 again, you’ll remember I gave bonus points to Miley for having a Chief Keef look-alike at her party. That’s a pretty arbitrary category because you can just as easily argue that having a Chief Keef look-alike at your party actually isn’t a good thing since the kid is so far gone that he would probably rather Instagram explicit pictures of his sexual acts than join Miley for some good old-fashioned drunk twerking. No fun in that. And so the arbitrary points master giveth and he taketh away: I’m calling having dead-inside friends a bad thing and giving Taylor the point. Just to give this decision a little more legitimacy, here’s a gif of Taylor and a guy doing a dorky dance that cool kids would never do:
And you know what? My life is better because that happened. Doo-wop isn’t dead and neither are the people at Taylor’s party. Swift 4 / Miley 3
USE OF ANIMALS: Okay so there aren’t any actual live animals in either video (UNLESS YOU COUNT PARTY ANIMALS). This is actually about use of animal imagery. You tell me which is the more awesome use:
I don’t know how many house parties with lambs in sunglasses you’ve been to, but trust me, when the lambs in sunglasses come out, that means it’s on. If there were a Ten Commandments of Partying, this wouldn’t be one of them, but if there were a Ten Commandments of Partying Deluxe Edition with Bonus Commandments then this would definitely be like the twelfth. So Miley wins. That wasn’t close. But since I just pulled out a quasi-Biblical reference, you probably know that I’m not done writing in this category and that I’m going to start recklessly speculating about the deeper meaning of these lambs.
When you talk about Miley, you have to talk about her father Billy Ray and how he used her to increase his own waning fame while simultaneously exposing her to the evils of the world to cruelly steal her innocence. You know who else this happened to? Yup, Jesus Christo. I’m back to mixing Biblical references at this point, but basically Miley was persecuted after singing the gospel of Party in the USA and banished to the desert through which she wandered the last few years. When she resurrected with this video, doubters scarcely believed it was her, refusing to acknowledge the truth of the new platinum pixie cut. They thought this couldn’t be the girl they loved, the one who looked like this just three years ago.
Yet she is. She’s back because at some point in the desert she learned what it takes to be transcendent: SWAG. Basically when Jesus resurrected ca. 33 AD, his SWAG moment was telling Thomas to stick his fingers in the punctures in his body to show he was still the real deal after all the shit he went through. Miley figured out that she needed that moment for herself. The entire We Can’t Stop video is that moment. And among the many images in the video, the one most distilled into absolute clarity of purpose is the lambs in sunglasses. That image says “You tried to keep me down and man, for a little while you succeeded, but now I’m back, I’m better, and I am SWAG.” And she has no qualms about starting a holy war with any other pop princess who wants one, including the one who just lost her lead in this contest: Swift 4 / Miley 4
And now we’re in the fourth quarter. And I just mentioned a holy war. And I already know you know what that means:
TIME TO GET PERSONAL. This is how we’re going to do things right now, listen up: Miley vs. Swift over a single, final category that doesn’t have anything to do with the parties themselves and everything to do with the two young women running them: EVERYTHING is on the line. WHOSE PARTY WOULD BE THE LEAST WORSE TO ATTEND?!?! This is gonna get ugly fast, but we’re gonna crown a champion.
HOST’S INSUFFERABILITY: Let’s just call these two parties good parties. Let’s just say the music is good and so is the dancing, there are a decent number of cool people around, there’s drinks and big houses to drink them in, etc. Now it’s very possible that the host of any good party is the best person there, the one having fun and making it so good. It’s also very possible that the party is good completely independent of, maybe even in spite of its host. In that case, it’s any party-goer’s prerogative to stay as far away from the girl in the cat ears as possible in order to have the best time possible.
To reiterate, we’re calling these both good parties. Now it’s time for another call: Taylor and Miley are both the latter type of host, both certifiably insufferable. If they were anything else, this blog post would be asking the question of which party is the most best to attend, not the least worst. But insufferability, like most things, comes in degrees, and the aim of this category, which may I remind you EVERYTHING IS RIDING ON, is to figure out who’s the least insufferable.
The first test is the first impression test. When I walk into a party at approximately 11:45, I will probably look at people. And when I look at people, I’ll notice what they are wearing. Clothes don’t necessarily define a person, but they do define my first impression of the person, meaning I just made assumptions about the person based solely on clothing which aren’t easily erased in the few hours a party lasts. Assumptions about, say, how insufferable a person is. I would seriously considering leaving any party the second after I saw its host was dressed like this:
Dope? More like NOPE. This smacks way too hard of someone trying, well, way too hard. Miley’s SWAG discussed in the previous category might be all the more remarkable because she achieves it while wearing these clothes. SWAG exudes naturally when a person has stopped caring about others’ opinions, while affected clothing items like gold grills (IN 2013, REALLY?!) and twelve-inch-heel Vans depend on other people’s validation for their existence. Otherwise, how could they possibly exist considering that their functional value is like negative times a hundred? They’re there solely to help their wearer in her increasingly loud scream for attention.
Contrast this to Taylor, who has picked outfits that complement rather than undermine her flirtatious persona for the night.
Not a Lot Going On at the Moment: unlike Miley’s abrasive Dope onesie, this shirt implies rather than tells. Its male viewer correctly senses that there could be a lot going on at the moment if he plays his cards right, yet the shirt’s noncommittal tone cautions him not to count his chickens before they hatch. The yellow head scarf plays the same way by suggesting that it isn’t the only piece of clothing on her body that could be undone fairly easily tonight by the right guy. The subtlety of Taylor’s clothing suggests on first impression that she is the cooler, more self-confident person, aka the less insufferable host.
But there was a key phrase in that last sentence: “On first impression.”
Because then she does gets to the point in the song where she sings “You don’t know about me,” and does things like this:
That’s pretty insufferable.
I understand that this is what white girls do. They make ironic gangsta rap poses. Yes, Miley does it in her video too. Let’s look:
It’s not super cute here either. But here’s why it works for Miley: it’s consistent with the overall vibe of her party. The entire affair is sleazy and every action filmed in the video is either SWAG or ratchet depending upon your point of view. The awfulness of Miley throwing up gang signs is easily matched by the awfulness of the rich-kid excess at her party. You can’t say the same about Taylor’s party. It’s populated by attractive, well-heeled young adults whose craziness peaks at throwing someone in a pool. In that context, Taylor’s mugging is just annoying. Her play at “going hard” just doesn’t resonate with the reality that her video, and by implication her party, culminates at approximately 2:30 am when she gets thrown in the pool. That’s not going hard.
Contrast that with the fact that when Miley throws up her signs and puts the meanest mug on her face, it’s already 7 o’clock the next morning! It’s already 7 o’clock the next morning AND SHE’S STILL DANCING.
That’s going hard.
That’s a party that can’t stop and won’t stop.
She’s not just the least insufferable: she just might even be kind of cool.
Swift 4 / Miley 5
Ain’t no party like a Resurrection party. Miley deserves a crown as gold as her grill.