Miley Cyrus, like Britney Spears before her, has spent the last few years demonstrating that the path from kiddie star to pop sensation is extremely difficult to navigate. Cyrus, who has played beloved teen Hannah Montana on the Disney Channel since 2006, turns 18 on November 23. But being just a little over a month away from legal adulthood hasn't stopped attacks on her latest video for her new song "Who Owns My Heart."
The clip, for the second single off her June 2010 disc "Can't Be Tamed," recalls Spears's sweaty video for her 2001 hit "Slave 4 U": Miley heads out dancing, strutting, and slithering in a dark, tightly packed club. Critics have latched on to how scantily clad Miley is in the video, and argued that her choreography is too sexually explicit. (For the record, Spears was 20 when her saucy "Slave" video aired.)
The Parents Television Council, a nonprofit watchdog group, has taken the strongest stand against Cyrus's video, releasing a statement that claims Miley has alienated her core audience of young girl fans.
"It is unfortunate that she would participate in such a sexualized video like this one," the organization's president, Tim Winter, tells TMZ. "It sends messages to her fan base that are diametrically opposed to everything she has done up to this point. Miley built her fame and fortune entirely on the backs of young girls, and it saddens us that she seems so eager to distance herself from that fan base so rapidly."
Cyrus's maturity from tween to young adult has been carefully scrutinized. In April 2008, a then-15-year-old Miley posed for "Vanity Fair" photographer Annie Leibovitz and caught heat for an image that depicted her bare back as she held a sheet against her chest.
"I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be 'artistic' and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,' " Cyrus said in a statement at the time as the controversy reached a fever pitch, though "Vanity Fair" maintained the shot was not meant to be seen as sexual. A year later, Cyrus was derided for dancing on a stripper pole during a performance at the Teen Choice Awards, a show aimed squarely at an under-18 audience.
But attention on Cyrus's evolving image multiplied with the release of "Can't Be Tamed." The video for the title track treads similar territory to "Who Owns My Heart": Cyrus plays a cultural oddity - a young lady with giant feathery wings - who's put on display as a curiosity and responds by breaking out of her exhibit and thrusting alongside her backing dancers. Both singles sound more adult too, boasting the buzzing dance-floor throb of the Rock Mafia remix of "See You Again," which appeared on Cyrus's 2008 album "Breakout." Lyrically, Cyrus has taken a few leaps forward, as well. On the Bret Michaels duet "Nothin' to Lose," the pair sing, "We both know better than this/Still we can't resist/Slowly get undressed."
Cyrus has yet to address the controversy surrounding her latest track since the video arrived online Friday afternoon, but she posted a comment to the blog on her website thanking fans for checking out the tune. "Hey guys! Thank you all for all your support with my new European single who owns my heart!"