The music video for Miley Cyrus’ Malibu opens with someone who 100 per cent is not Miley Cyrus.
She’s wearing all white. Her hair is in pigtails. She is seven. This person is seven years old, and someone needs to tell her parents where she is. They are looking for her.
She sings in a soft child-like voice and sways like a primary school student telling her class a story that doesn't quite make sense.
Moments later, she's running along a beach in a bikini and it soon becomes clear that this very well could be Miley Cyrus... but now, she only wears white. Because virginal. But also innocence.
Miley Cyrus has had a complete makeover and we're confused.
She literally personifies the Madonna-whore myth - the trope that divides women into two mutually exclusive groups: the virginal Madonnas and the sexually corrupt whores.
Now Miley's engaged, she prances along beaches and swims in the waves. She's saintly and pure and... super infantalised.
When she was single, she twerked. She simulated sex acts on a giant foam finger. There are only two ways to exist as a woman, and she already tried this one:
So now it's time to sit among flowers in frilly white clothing.
But this new Miley is having trouble deciding whether she's hot or cold, and the weather keeps changing. So in two separate shots, she wearing a jumper with no pants, and a bikini top with pants. Together, they would make a complete outfit, but alone, they do not.
PAUSE. STOP WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
She's doing an Irish jig.
It's everything we ever wanted from this song. It doesn't even need to continue, but it does.
After the jig she stares longingly into the camera, singing about Malibu, a beach place where Robin Thicke doesn't simulate sex on anyone and no one sticks their tongues out. It's conducive to wearing a lot of white.
It's all well and good to dance along a beach in differing white clothing, basking in the sun and doing a jig whenever you please. But not everyone understands.
A certain someone wants to know why his favourite person is making him act all innocent and calm. Frankly, he's sick of it. He just wants someone to throw his ball but apparently that doesn't go with the 'all white' aesthetic.
Miley holds approximately 47 colourful balloons as she runs through the waves. They're attached to a big stick. The dog definitely wants the stick but he's being held back by a member of the camera crew who is trying to explain that he's only here to be cuddled, not to play.
Flowers, flowers, more flowers, Miley dances in the grass.
The music video then starts to look like a romance movie and I feel like I'm watching The Last Song. I'm nostalgic for a time when I wasn't aware of the myriad problems posed by mainstream American movies, and just accepted that a white-washed story about a rebellious teenager falling in love with Liam Hemsworth was fine.
Running, dancing, staring in the camera, flowers.
Spinning in white dresses.
... Flower hands?
Engagement ring, more flowers, grass.
In a full-body shot, it seems Miley is wearing a jumper, bikini bottoms, and boots. Right. Cool.
STOP. SHE'S DOING A JIG AGAIN. This time on top of a mountain in what looks like a wedding dress.
The Last Song filter then comes in and now there's TWO Mileys jigging on a mountain top.
Twirling, chewing jumper sleeves, pulling on jumper, wind blowing through hair, cuddling dog, skipping through the grass.
Everything about this video is light and youthful and pure. There are so many white outfits I lose count. Many of them are lacking pants, but in a distinctly playful rather than sexual way.
The Madonna-whore trope seamlessly makes its way into representations of young women. But the problem with being either one is that the myth itself doesn't allow women to be fully human. We're either saintly virgins who are infantalised and relegated to the role of giving, but not wanting, sexual pleasure; or we're cast as the whore, who is 'damaged' and driven exclusively by a desire for sex.
Of course, Miley isn't a Madonna or a whore - no woman is. She's a human being who likely doesn't truly resemble either of the 'images' she's portrayed to the public.
All the discussion, then, about whether we're now seeing the 'real Miley' is futile. We never will.