Sinead O'Connor threatens to sue Miley Cyrus

The BBC reports that the "row" between singers Miley Cyrus and Sinead O'Connor "escalates." This means that they are still tweeting and blogging at each other.

The tit-for-tat conversation began after Cyrus, 20, cited O'Connor's video Nothing Compares 2 U as an inspiration for her explicit Wrecking Ball video. O'Connor, 46, said she was prompted to write, "in the spirit of motherliness" after "phone calls from various newspapers" who wanted the singer-songwriter to comment upon similarities between the two videos. … Cyrus also tweeted a picture of O'Connor ripping up a photograph of the pope, an infamous on-stage stunt by the singer, before asking her to "meet up and talk". Responding to Cyrus in a third open letter, O'Connor said she would take legal action against her if she did not remove the tweets.

Miley Cyrus succeeds at a form of celebrity shock behavior that Sinead O'Connor often attempts and fails at. That it serves very different aims, in each of their cases, is why O'Connor has reason to object beyond mere artistic propriety. And Cyrus's ostentatious, fleeting self-awareness only makes it worse. She's like a line of dialogue reserved by Quentin Tarantino for a dangerous old man: This part of Miley is the music industry's critique of all of Sinead.

Cyrus knew that O'Connor could be easily turned from "concerned mom" into a tower of sanctimonious, threat-issuing anger, and that's exactly what Cyrus accomplished. And if you are in any doubt about how good she is at the Game of Crones, remember that she did it with a couple of tweets.

Moreover, the younger singer obviously knows what has been and is done to both of them. If you read O'Connor's letter again, you'll see her figure that out as she goes along. But she's too committed to the message to stop. She's talking to herself: a different, younger self.

The sad part—and it is sad, because O'Connor's work has the unusual distinction of being real—is that the superficial interactions between the two perfectly embody what the underlying drama is supposedly about.

O'Connor's remarks are beautiful and sincere, yet unapproachable in an anxious, edgy way that's hard to define. (After all, the kind of people who most enjoy Miley Cyrus being attacked are those least likely to empathize with Sinead O'Connor.) Meanwhile, Cyrus's glib responses blast through in a way so completely media-compatible that her own fluency seems part of an act designed to fit 2013's knowing buyers of music. It seems part of a story, being told, rather than something that's actually happening to people.

Meanwhile, who actually shifts the most singles? Robin "let me liberate you, bitch" Thicke.