Miley Cyrus might not be the first former teen star to attempt a career volte face through the medium of music, but she might well be the first to do it by twerking.
Alongside singer Robin Thicke at this year’s VMA, Miley performed a sort of mash up of “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines” while dressed in flesh coloured underwear and using a foam finger as prop. You might have read about it. You might even have seen it. Or, like 300,000 people every minute, you might have tweeted about it.
Controversy aside, not much has been made about the fact that the whole performance was pretty well-rehearsed. The crotch-rubbing, finger-pointing, tongue-lolling; all, planned. We know this because we spoke to the choreographer, Diane Martel, who happens to be a woman. And not just a woman, the same woman who directed Robin Thicke’s 'polemic' video for Blurred Lines.
Diane Martel is a big deal in the world of music videos. She’s been working on them since the early Nineties, when she made REM’s Shiny Happy People. She went on to work with everyone from Goldfrapp to Nicki Minaj and The Cribs.Here Diane spoke exclusively to Grazia’s Tabitha Lasley about Miley and Robin and that performance...
'As far as I'm concerned it got a great response, and I'm really happy with it.'
'We're all proud of what we did. it came out great. We had a really good time, and both Miley, Robin and I were all really happy with the performances.'
'Kids do this thing - if you haven't noticed… kind of like making fun of trying to be pretty and prim on the photographs. That's the culture she's part of: she's 20 years old.'
'The foam finger was from Blurred Lines; because I was I was staging Blurred Lines for Miley and Robin, I used the foam finger as a connecter from the video to the performance. Miley had done a version of Blurred Lines - they did a duet because of that.'
And here’s what she said about Blurred Lines:
'Blurred Lines played with the "male gaze" while being entertaining. The naked, sexy women are dominant, the men are submissive. Emily is rolling her eyes and not getting up or getting down. There is a lamb. There is a giant pointing finger. There is a scary alien. There is a stop sign on Emily’s ass. There is a balloon sculpture that reads: "Robin Thicke has a big d***".'
'This video is not made by a hetero male. It is made by a hetero female who enjoys photographing women’s bodies and is f***ing with pop culture tropes.'
'It undermines the deadly serious tone of women as decoration that we see in most ads and videos. It’s charming and ridiculous. Is this lost on the viewers? I suppose some people see tits some sort of alarm goes off - this says more about the viewer than the object viewed.'
'I make things that keep my attention. Be it covering scenes with typography or complicating setups with confusing details and in jokes. If someone gets the joke, if they look hard at the details, then great. If they don’t, then great.'
'I’m over stimulated and I want to make work that over stimulates. I was very lazy for a few years and now I’m back to work. In a single day I watch theatre, tribal dance, ballet, 80s videos, musicals, bad commercials, shorts, MUBI, cable series, tweaking videos, porn, B horror films. Then I read a novel.'
'I took time to see what young girls are into. At first I saw a jaded and aggro vibe - this is because I was talking to some kids who take drugs and are mean! Then I asked a beautiful friend Georgia Walker, who is now my art director, about her generation’s ideas. I found out about a type of cynicism and wit and sarcasm and hyper-intelligence that surpassed the type I had growing up. Mine was softer, more hippy-ish. These girls are strong, on fire, focused and accomplished at a young age. They are tough.'
'Emily [Ratajkowski] in Blurred Lines is one of these girls. She’s strong with a voice, but also very sensual and comfortable with herself. This is why she’s so important in the video. She doesn’t need approval; she mocks and ridicules. She refuses to kiss a pop star’s ass in his own video.'
'This to me is sex positive feminism.'