Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Miley Cyrus' VMA performance was reprehensible

   Miley Cyrus gave a shocking performance at the MTV Video Music Awards show Sunday night. Everybody's talking about it today. And suddenly everybody in the world knows what "twerking" is.
   The outrage about how "provocative" the performance was comes off as disingenuous, at best. People who watched the VMAs knew, maybe even hoped, that something shocking would happen. That's probably one of the reasons they watched. (Saying you watch the VMAs to see who wins the awards is like saying you read Playboy magazine for the articles.) People chose to watch and then they complained because they saw exactly the same kind of performance and the same kind of scandal that highlights the VMAs many years.
   Almost everything that's written about Cyrus' performance mentions that she's "only 20" or "not yet 21" and a "former Disney star." But Britney Spears, another former Disney star, was the same age when she gave Madonna an open-mouthed kiss on the same show a decade ago. This is the kind of stuff that happens on the VMAs. We know that when we tune in.
Miley Cyrus at the VMAs
   If you're a parent who thinks your teenager will be damaged by watching something provocative, well,  how old were you when you listened to Jim Morrison (who at the time was only two years older than Cyrus is now) sing a song about a kid who rapes his mother and kills his father? How old were you when you listened to Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side"? Or when you watched countless hip-hop and hair-metal videos with strippers in them? This stuff is not new.
   And if you didn't want your kids to see sexy dancing by young women in scanty outfits, you shouldn't have let them watch the VMAs in the first place, 'cause it happens every year.
    But yes, it's right to be offended, and offended deeply, by Cyrus' performance. Not because it was provocative, but because it was a load of garbage. From the bizarre opening pose with the tongue sticking out, to the laughable sets and costumes, the clunky dancing and the gross and unsettling gestures, it was all just hideous. It was the clumsiest and most un-sexy thing on the VMAs since Michael Jackson kissed his "wife" Lisa Marie Presley in 1994.
   We shouldn't be so shocked that someone as young as Miley Cyrus performed so provocatively; we should be appalled that someone who's as talented and professionally polished as Miley Cyrus performed so amateurishly. That's what was so reprehensible. That's why it's a bad example for our kids.


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