[Damian writes...] Ok, so I’m about to get REAL petty– and yes, this is going to sound totally inconsequential, but hear me out.
I get it, there are far greater perils facing humanity at the current moment (read: the US federal government just walked away from the world’s first and, at the moment, best global initiative to combat CO2 emissions– one of only three nations to do so on Earth). Regardless, since she’s recently careened back into the limelight, I need to take a moment to acknowledge the country-born, tongue-flailing, cultural-appropriating elephant in the room… that is, our very own Saturday-morning-starlet-turned-wrecking-ball, Miley Cyrus. Yet, despite what initially appears trivial, in reality, may be a matter that threatens the well-being of plant communities EVERYWHERE!
Rather than stumble across a benign nod to Huell Howser’s long-touted gold, I was bombarded by a cavalcade of disturbing imagery the likes of which no one should suffer. That’s to say, the roughly four-minute fiasco is a veritable Frankenstein’s monster of stitched Fyre-Festival-esque clips almost entirely dedicated to fetishizing (**gasps in gay**) NON-NATIVE INVASIVE PLANTS.
Yes, the video for Malibu is, as far as I gather, supposedly a tribute to the tune’s namesake. However, to those of us passionately fighting to conserve the floral diversity that makes California’s coast truly special, it comes off as, dare I say, a dangerous acquittal of the role non-native invasives play in the destruction of the West Coast’s natural splendor. A tall claim, I know, but faithful media portrayal of our natural wonders matter.
In summary, Miley’s latest music video unfolds much like an inspirational Rocky montage. Except, instead of clips spliced together to present iconic Philadelphia landmarks, here the director attempts to accomplish the same for California’s southern coast. A bloodshot Sun sets over the Pacific. Gentle rolling waves tickle the feet of our coastal bluffs. A lost, blonde Coachella extra skips atop the seafoam with her customary balloon stick in hand (wait, a balloon… stick?).
All framed by an objectively tepid pop anthem, this is how popular media has come to define the mythos of California’s Golden Coast. However, the gravest crime of all is the generous interjection of flattering shots featuring various non-native invasive blooms, elevating them to the same mythological status as the sunset, waves, and balloon stick (balloon stick?) before them.
Ice Plant makes a particularly virile invasive, reproducing aggressively year-round via sexual AND asexual means. Their robust colonies crowd out native seedlings yearning to regain their foothold, stabilize sandy embankments previously inhabited by endangered dune dwellers, and produce a matrix of organic substrate provoking the establishment of yet more noxious non-native weeds. Come to think of it, the parallels to European colonialism are eerie indeed. *sigh*
We've all seen the graduation day photoshoots in fields of Mediterranean Mustard, or the beach city Instagram account fishing for tourists with sunset posts framed by thickets of Pampas Grass. Though the jury is still out on whether Miley is to blame (in anticipation, my verdict: GUILTY), it’s clear this newly-minted brand of environmental complacency has come to manifested itself from mass media down to the confines of our own personal gardens.
How do we reverse this maligned trend? For starters: PLANT. NATIVE. Volunteer alongside local state & regional parks to extirpate local populations of invasive weeds. Teach your children the value of conserving indigenous plants AND the landscapes they call home. It’s up to us– that is, everyone but Billy Ray Cyrus’ millionaire progeny– to lend new (note: literal) meaning to such grassroots endeavors.
P.S. Five points to Slytherin (because we all know Miley’s a parselmouth; I mean, have you heard her sing?) for crooning beside groves of Coast Redwoods. Five points from Slytherin because wild grown Redwoods don’t range as far south as Malibu. So close, yet so far. But what does she care. I suppose I’m just being petty…
Follow Damian on Instagram for more amazing photos of California's native flora (and more) @damian_was_here