Yesterday Sinead O’Connor published an open letter to Miley Cyrus. This was a response to the tongue wagging singer claiming her new video was inspired by Nothing Compares 2U (exactly what the inspiration was isn’t clear. I don’t recall the moment Sinead tore off her clothes, licked a hammer and sat on a a demolition ball, but heigh-ho.)
O’Connor said she was prompted to write, “in the spirit of motherliness” after “phone calls from various newspapers” who wanted the singer-songwriter to comment upon similarities between the two videos.
Miley retorted to the well meaning letter, in which she received a lot of praise, in a bad way: by mocking the Irish singer’s bipolar disorder.
Miley published a screen shot of O’Connor’s tweets from 2012 in which the Irish star, who has bi-polar disorder, referred to her mental health problems, asking for Twitter followers to recommend a psychiatrist. Cyrus “joked”: ““Before Amanda Bynes…. There was….” before displaying the screengrab of O’Connor’s Twitter account which showed O’Connor asking for help.
Miley then added: “Sinead. I don’t have time to write you an open letter cause I’m hosting & performing on SNL this week.”
This brought O’Connor back on Facebook, replying: “Really? Who the fuck is advising you? Because taking me on is even more fuckin’ stupid than behaving like a prostitute and calling it feminism.” She added: “When you end up in the psych ward or rehab I’ll be happy to visit you … and would not lower myself to mock you.”
Leading British mental health charities have condemned Miley Cyrus for mocking Sinead. Paul Jenkins, CEO of charity Rethink Mental Illness, said: “Miley’s tweet appears to be an attempt to discredit Sinead by highlighting her mental health problems.
“If that is the case, it is a cruel and unkind response. Sinead O’Connor has helped break down the stigma surrounding mental illness by speaking openly about her own struggles.
“That takes a lot of bravery, so to use it as ammunition against her, if that is the case, would be deeply insensitive. We have asked Miley to explain what she meant by her tweet and we urge her to clarify what she wanted to say.”
Even The NME was shocked, saying: “By implication, Cyrus is saying that because O’Connor has had mental health problems she is not in a position to comment or hold an opinion. Would she say the same if O’Connor suffered from a broken leg, or cancer? Mocking mental health in this way exacerbates stereotypes that depression – and specifically in O’Connor’s case bipolar depression – makes a person less-than and a social pariah. Cyrus has 14million Twitter followers, a quarter of whom will probably experience mental health problems at some point in their lives. There is no bigger pop star in the world than her right now; after the VMAs debacle she has trended on Twitter almost every day. Her influence is considerable. Let’s hope her comments won’t have forced closed any mouths of people who need to get help.”
This was the original letter:
I wasn’t going to write this letter, but today i’ve been dodging phone calls from various newspapers who wished me to remark upon your having said in Rolling Stone your Wrecking Ball video was designed to be similar to the one for Nothing Compares… So this is what I need to say… And it is said in the spirit of motherliness and with love.
I am extremely concerned for you that those around you have led you to believe, or encouraged you in your own belief, that it is in any way ‘cool’ to be naked and licking sledgehammers in your videos. It is in fact the case that you will obscure your talent by allowing yourself to be pimped, whether its the music business or yourself doing the pimping.
Nothing but harm will come in the long run, from allowing yourself to be exploited, and it is absolutely NOT in ANY way an empowerment of yourself or any other young women, for you to send across the message that you are to be valued (even by you) more for your sexual appeal than your obvious talent.
I am happy to hear I am somewhat of a role model for you and I hope that because of that you will pay close attention to what I am telling you.
The music business doesn’t give a s**t about you, or any of us. They will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think its what YOU wanted.. and when you end up in rehab as a result of being prostituted, ‘they’ will be sunning themselves on their yachts in Antigua, which they bought by selling your body and you will find yourself very alone.
None of the men oggling you give a s**t about you either, do not be fooled. Many’s the woman mistook lust for love. If they want you sexually that doesn’t mean they give a fuck about you. All the more true when you unwittingly give the impression you don’t give much of a fuck about yourself. And when you employ people who give the impression they don’t give much of a fuck about you either. No one who cares about you could support your being pimped.. and that includes you yourself.
Yes, I’m suggesting you don’t care for yourself. That has to change. You ought be protected as a precious young lady by anyone in your employ and anyone around you, including you. This is a dangerous world. We don’t encourage our daughters to walk around naked in it because it makes them prey for animals and less than animals, a distressing majority of whom work in the music industry and it’s associated media.
You are worth more than your body or your sexual appeal. The world of showbiz doesn’t see things that way, they like things to be seen the other way, whether they are magazines who want you on their cover, or whatever.. Don’t be under any illusions.. ALL of them want you because they’re making money off your youth and your beauty.. which they could not do except for the fact your youth makes you blind to the evils of show business. If you have an innocent heart you can’t recognise those who do not.
I repeat, you have enough talent that you don’t need to let the music business make a prostitute of you. You shouldn’t let them make a fool of you either. Don’t think for a moment that any of them give a flying f**k about you. They’re there for the money.. we’re there for the music. It has always been that way and it will always be that way. The sooner a young lady gets to know that, the sooner she can be REALLY in control.
You also said in Rolling Stone that your look is based on mine.
The look I chose, I chose on purpose at a time when my record company were encouraging me to do what you have done. I felt I would rather be judged on my talent and not my looks. I am happy that I made that choice, not least because I do not find myself on the proverbial rag heap now that I am almost 47 yrs of age.. which unfortunately many female artists who have based their image around their sexuality, end up on when they reach middle age.
Real empowerment of yourself as a woman would be to in future refuse to exploit your body or your sexuality in order for men to make money from you. I needn’t even ask the question.. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that men are making more money than you are from you getting naked. Its really not at all cool. And its sending dangerous signals to other young women. Please in future say no when you are asked to prostitute yourself. Your body is for you and your boyfriend. It isn’t for every spunk-spewing dirtbag on the net, or every greedy record company executive to buy his mistresses diamonds with.
As for the shedding of the Hannah Montana image.. whoever is telling you getting naked is the way to do that does absolutely NOT respect your talent, or you as a young lady. Your records are good enough for you not to need any shedding of Hannah Montana. She’s waaaaaaay gone by now.. Not because you got naked but because you make great records.
Whether we like it or not, us females in the industry are role models and as such we have to be extremely careful what messages we send to other women. The message you keep sending is that its somehow cool to be prostituted.. its so not cool Miley.. its dangerous. Women are to be valued for so much more than their sexuality. we aren’t merely objects of desire. I would be encouraging you to send healthier messages to your peers.. that they and you are worth more than what is currently going on in your career. Kindly fire any motherf***er who hasn’t expressed alarm, because they don’t care about you.