No Country For Old Miley: Cormac McCarthy Describes the Video for “We Can’t Stop”
by Celeste Ballard
This is the west. The west of the San Fernando Valley. This is Encino, an old Chumash word roughly translated to “she’s just being Miley.” It’s a land of vertical blinds, shag carpeting, and that unrelenting desert of adolescence. The sky meets land and doesn’t ask us why but asks why the eff not. Then the sky does a line of cocaine off a toilet. The kids here live in the pre-dawn hours and party until the sky transforms into an endless plane lit by shades of fire made more vibrant by the vision of the pill they call molly.
The girl, the one they call Miley, with hair cut and dyed blonde like the driest of bone-dry wheat, clips her chrome plated retainer into place over straight young teeth and runs her tongue over the new metal incisors. She twists her small girlish mouth into a grimace combing her hair over, once, twice. MIKE WiLL made It.
Another girl cuts her waxen fingers down the bone and lets pink goo ooze out and there’s a recurring large pile of bread and a skull made of french fries and you are not supposed to ask what’s that about but think how very cool. Eos product placement. This is the west.
Four inoperable beasts are strapped to the backs of Miley and the other teens who have seen too much giving the illusion of bears with teenage legs. The girls then turn, victorious, like a hunter coming back with prey, the scent of teenage deodorant and skunked beer in the air. The girls do an aimless dance and the bears bob up and down, partying in spite of themselves.
Miley’s wide lined eyes stare down the barrel as she drags a mongoose stuffed and mounted, and holds a tiny deer wearing huge gold-rimmed glasses. Adulthood circles her like two vultures in the desert sky, eyeing the innocence that is already waning. They will pull the rest piece by piece from her abundant exposed flesh pouring out from under a t-shirt that both says dope and is indeed dope. Somewhere a girl with a dream and a cardigan is hung upside down from a tree. This is the west.
The homegirls with the big butts, the anonymous teenagers whose limbs float into frame in the pool, the rest of them hired to give Miley the illusion of friends, all speak:
Así que la da di da di
Nos gusta la fiesta
Bailando con Molly
Haciendo lo que queremos
Esta es nuestra casa
Se trata de las reglas
Between all the tongues protruding and casual twerking you get the sense that what you’re supposed to remember is a memorable time about not remembering. And it’s here that the rotation of the earth seems to synchronize with the words of the girl who ceases to just be Miley. And instead of time you feel beats and instead of worry you feel elation. You barely notice you’re being pulled into the heat of the horizon where the shadows of hit singles disappear into the half light of a primordial dawn from a time before we knew what a Hannah Montana was or that she was a thing born to be forgotten.
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Art by Jamie McCelland.
Celeste Ballard is a freelance writer for the The Hairpin and The New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs blog, and a producer at Above Average, the digital arm of Broadway Video. You can find her on Twitter @celesteballard.