October 21, 2013

Love and "Wrecking Ball"

Everybody's been talking about Miley Cyrus, recently. Mostly, this is because of her performance at the VMAs, I think. However, some attention has come from her recent single, "Wrecking Ball." The music video features her pole dancing on the chain of a wrecking ball, stark naked. Now that you know its content, you can watch it or not at your own discretion here.

However, I don't really have an interest in discussing the video or its artistic content (or even its lack thereof). Instead, as this song was stuck in my head this morning, I noticed that, in a song about a romantic relationship, she only mentions love twice. Moreover, both of those mentions are interesting. Curiosity duly engaged, I decided to try and discern what exactly Miley means by "Love" in this song. (She didn't write the song, according to wikipedia, but she sang it, and therefore I can still talk about love in this song as her concept)

The word is mentioned twice, once in the first verse, and repeated several times in the chorus. For convenience, I'll replicate both here:

First Verse:
We kissed, I fell under your spell.
A love no one could deny

I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard in love
All I wanted was to break your walls
All you ever did was wreck me

In the first verse usage, love is a noun: clearly - it is preceded by an indefinite article, and serves as the object of the verb "Deny." As such, it is a thing - not an action. Specifically, it's a noun which describes the situation: "I fell under your spell."

Thereafter, in the chorus, this concept is continued and expanded. Love, again, is a noun referring to a situation: it gives the location of the action "I never hit so hard." As such, she may have hit harder elsewhere - in golf, perhaps - but in the situation colloquially referred to as "love," she has never hit this hard.

Love appears to be, according to Miley in this song, somewhat of an arena. Two souls enter, they contest with each other, and come out feeling damaged. This description of love, as I have presented it, is confirmed by the break lyrics:

I never meant to start a war
I just wanted you to let me in
And instead of using force
I guess I should've let you win

Love, thus, is the place where hearts are broken and the situation in which blows are given: the locus, to use the more exact Latin word, for a romantic relationship. It is the space between two people, mutually acknowledged as the battlefield, in which they will attempt to placate, enjoy, and use each other.

A key point here is that, as such, love describes the interaction of two separate, unconnected, lonely individuals. Two titanic individualities meet in a locus much too small, where only one can gain the upper hand. This forces the relationship into conflict: who wins the argument; who seduces the other; who casts their spell.

Ultimately, this conception of love seems to be in line with a fair amount of assumed theorizing about love in popular music. "Love is a battlefield," "Blurred Lines," and "You Give Love a Bad Name" come immediately to mind as further examples. This love-as-locus conceptualization in pop music turns a romantic relationship into something stale, empty, and ultimately wounding. This love cannot save, it cannot enlighten, and it cannot free. A different kind of love, love-as-kenosis, or self-donation, is exactly the opposite - the kind of love that can be crucified for the salvation of the whole world.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow!! Three times Wow!!

September 16, 2014 10:19 PM  

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