This past February, you shared an open wound of a post that explored the fear and paranoia that is felt by just about every man who has ever had the blessing and curse of being father to a girl:
It was a beautiful thing, and not just for its use of the phrase “sperm cannon.”
As the father of a 13-year-old girl I’ve ruminated on these things as well – how do we ensure our little darlings make the right choices?
I figure the best we can do, in addition to “gouging out the eyeballs of every teenage boy in the neighbourhood”, is to maintain an open, honest and engaging dialogue with these wonderful and mystifying creatures we are helping to raise. But, as any father of a teenager will tell you, sometimes you gotta get a little creative to keep the engagement alive.
That’s why I created “The Epic Music Project of 2014”.
The “Epic Music of Project of 2014” is where I assign the youngster a song (sometimes one I love, sometimes one she loves, sometimes one we both love), and give her questions about the song’s lyrics, meaning, sound, emotional impact etc. She has countered with the “Epicer Music Project of 2014”, during which she gives me assignments. This is just fine with me. I’ll gladly take her Lana Del Rey in exchange for my Bruce Springsteen. The important thing is we’re talking, listening and thinking together.
For her latest assignment, I expanded the music project into the realm of the music video. And not just one video, but two. Yes, I decided to have a head to head music video cage match. The old vs. the new.
I set it up and posed the questions. She answered them.
Here’s how it unfolded:
THE EPIC MUSIC PROJECT OF 2014
Music video cage match –
Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” vs. Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball”
In 1990, at age 23, Sinead O’Connor released her video for “Nothing Compares 2 U” and it was a mammoth hit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUiTQvT0W_0
In 2013, at age 20, Miley Cyrus released her video for “Wrecking Ball” and it was a mammoth hit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My2FRPA3Gf8
Miley said that her video was inspired by Sinead’s video. In response to that, Sinead wrote this scolding letter to Miley (don’t read it yet!): http://music-mix.ew.com/2013/10/02/sinead-oconnor-miley-cyrus-open-letter/
Watch both videos at least twice. Think about:
- The quality of their voices
- The lyrics
- The music
- The quality of their performances as actors
- The emotional power of the videos and their performances – how they elicit emotion from the viewer, and how effectively they do it
Now – read the letter.
How are the videos the same?
- The videos both have close-ups of the singer’s face and they both cry at some point in the video. They are also similar because the videos include other things as well. Miley licking a sledgehammer and swinging naked, and trees and statues for Sinead’s video. For me, the music videos look similar, but when you actually pay attention to them, there are few things that are similar except the main idea of the video. Close-up, tears, and other things.
How are they different?
- Nothing Compares 2 U is a lot more innocent than Wrecking Ball. It has no nudity or balls destroying walls. Also, the NC2U video connects deeper into the song than Wrecking Ball, which is just a wrecking ball destroying things. That doesn’t really make people think much, since it is just Miley naked and being gross. Miley is wearing a lot of makeup in her video as well, whereas Sinead is wearing none that I see. Her face is very plain, and because of the letter, I understand that it’s because she believes talent is more important than beauty, which I love, especially since she was around Miley’s age at the time, and Miley decided she wanted to be all “sexy”.
Based on the videos, how have times changed since 1990?
- Well, I kind of just said this, but in 1990, talent was more important in a star. It was about their voices, not the way they looked. Now, stars don’t hesitate to be naked in a music video that millions of people will see. They all care about their appearance now, and use auto tune so they sound decent.
Which song do you like better? Why?
- I don’t actually know my answer to this question. I don’t really like either. The way Sinead O’Connor says “to you” when she says “nothing compares to you” bugs me so much and kind of ruins the song for me, but Miley’s is so mainstream and pop and I’ve begun to dislike every song on the radio, so I don’t really like either. However, I used to like Wrecking Ball but never liked NC2U, I guess I have to say I like WB better.
Which video do you like better? Why?
- I also don’t like either video, but obviously I like Sinead’s more. I don’t wanna repeat myself a lot, but my answers for how things have changed and how they are different basically say what I like more about it. Also, when Sinead cried in her video, it was around the middle or near the end, so it seemed more real. Miley started crying before the song even started, which made it seem more staged and fake.
Was Sinead right to write the letter, or should she just mind her own business? Why?
- I don’t know if it was necessarily a good idea, but Sinead basically said what everyone who doesn’t like Miley was thinking, except none of us would ever have a chance to make Miley realize what she is doing will ruin her career, and she is making really bad decisions. Miley based her look and video off of Sinead, making her clearly important to Miley, so writing her a letter saying all that stuff could’ve actually made Miley change, but it didn’t. At least she tried. While I was reading it, I began liking Sinead O’Conner more and more, because basically everything in that letter, is what I wish I could say to Miley. So, maybe she should’ve just minded her own business, but I’m really glad she didn’t.
END OF ASSIGNMENT
So was my daughter telling me what she knew I wanted to hear? Well, she’s never really felt the need to do that before, so I’m inclined to think this was an honest reaction.
And can I take any of this as proof that my beautiful daughter will make all the right choices in life and conduct herself exactly as I would choose?
Not on your life.
But I’m optimistic, Pal. I’m optimistic.