While most critics agree that the video is beautifully shot, it also pushes too far in the direction of crass sexuality, to the video’s detriment. Then again, as long as it’s controversial, Miley’s likely to be satisfied, right?
Check out a round-up of the most colorful reviews below.
Popjustice rather astutely pointed out that the few hyper-sexualized shots cheapened the sophistication of the imagery: “But the tongue. The licking. The phallic hammer head. It only accounts for about 3% of the video’s 3:41 running time but it changes the tone of the whole thing. This video could have been powerful and confident. It could have allowed Miley to say actually, do you know what, a kit-off scenario doesn’t always have to be crass and grotty. Instead, for the sake of seven seconds of nonsense, a potentially eloquent response to the VMAs furore just seems tacky and titillating.”
Entertainment Weekly noted: “Yep, she naked. Also, she’s fellating a sledgehammer. Watch it here and be scandalized/titillated/disappointed in Billy Ray Cyrus’ parenting skills.”
Jezebel offered an instructive guide to understanding the video (in case it exceeded your powers of comprehension), explaining: “Miley and her Wrecking Ball got very close. Maybe too close. She worried what people would think about her latest objectum sexual relationship but soon realized that she didn’t care that the outside world would whisper about her. It didn’t matter that she was rebounding too quickly with the Wrecking Ball and that her former partner Sledgehammer would get all the sympathy. Fuck him.”
Rolling Stone went for a more straight-up description of the visual — perhaps because there wasn’t a whole lot else to say: “Miley isn’t defeated by heartbreak, and instead wraps her tongue around a sledgehammer and bares all while straddling a wrecking ball. But despite that confidence, she’s still left all alone to deal with her painful memories.”
Grantland helpfully ran a live-blog as their writer watched the video for the first time; by the end, her patience was dwindling: “I’m actually used to, maybe even bored by, the idea of Miley Cyrus naked on a big fake wrecking ball by now. I’ve even made my peace with the hammer licking. I guess there are no more clothes to take off, so she’ll have to start innovating in another direction. Happens to everyone at some point or another.”
Gawker brought it all back to the whole cultural appropriation issue, writing: “There is a motif of white in this video (Cyrus’ giant teeth, her nails, her background, her underwear when she even bothers to wear them), perhaps a sly acknowledgement of Cyrus’ white privilege. But is she acknowledging it enough? Is she saying exactly the thing that I would be saying if I were a controversial pop star naked on a wrecking ball during a power ballad? No, she is not. And for that she is wrong and, I’ll remind you once more, highly problematic.”