No Country for Old Miley: Cormac McCarthy Describes the Video for “Wrecking Ball”

by Celeste Ballard

A face emerges from the blackness, white skin against an even whiter wall.

Es Miley.

-De los Video Music Awards de MTV?


She stands against a blank plane, eyes blue, eyelashes weighted down in black ink. Her mouth is parted, painted in bright red pigment like the women of the night in the outskirts of La Playa. She has come from the west. A single salt-laden tear hovers and falls. Memories of twerking bears and motor-boating a big butt start to form but quickly vaporize into a faint smell of stale weed. The sky is an unmodulated grey and lies heavy in a post-roofie molly hangover.

This is the borderlands. Gone are the piles of bread, the long legged teens, EOS lip balm. This is no country for the frivolous trappings of a youth wasted. It is here at this border where hype meets the need to get real that one gets crushed by metaphors armed in steel and made literal.

She wears a tight shirt that gives her nipples no cover, full-butt Hanes, and barely-laced boots that are hand-died red with the blood of the ox by old Doc Martén. The one they call Miley is stuck in a concrete prison, with three heavy walls that look freshly cemented. There is no fourth wall because why would there be. Terry Richardson made this. He of that specific visual touch, the touch you didn’t ask for. Will she break these walls or will these walls break her is the question asked without any subtlety.

She clutches a mallet and drags it along the walls. Her long limbs glisten with sweat or s a fresh airbrush tan with tattoos etched into her porcelain skin like messages scrawled on a high school bathroom stall. She swings the mallet and wields it over her head.

A wrecking ball, let loose from unknown height slams into the wall where Miley was just sitting sexy and contemplative but now she marches forward without flinching without looking back. She run things things don’t run she.

And there’s that tongue, this time licking the mallet.

She perches on a wrecking ball naked as the day she was born, wrapping her legs around the chain, barely noticing her cheeks turning cold against metal. She is tortured and turned on in equal measure. She is the master of her own isolation, threatening to make love to looming disaster, making out with a mallet, back arched in ecstasy on a massive ball. We enter naked into this world witness its brutality and leave it naked and swinging recklessly on a violent wall crumbler.

She lies prone on top of brought down walls. Countless bodies lie under the pile of rubble, the pop past buried in the wreckage like a Disney version of Pompeii. Here lies Hannah Montana. Here lies a partier in the USA. Here lies “My girl, Miley.”

Previously: Cormac McCarthy Describes the Video for “We Can’t Stop”

Art by Jia.

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.