I live on the West Coast, land of the tape-delayed. From the Olympics to awards shows, we rarely get to watch anything at the same time as the rest of the country. Last night during the live airing of the MTV Video Music Awards, I watched twitter explode over Miley Cyrus’ performance. Twitter’s indignation over Miley was so large, I figured Miley was literally slaughtering puppies and kittens on stage. Three hours later, I watched her outrageous performance and thought, “meh.”
Since the dawn of Rock and Roll, musicians have been provocative. Elvis had those scandalous hips, The Beatles had those haircuts. Madonna danced with a cone bra and Michael Jackson grabbed his crotch. More recently, we’ve watched other former child stars attempt to shake their wholesome images on the very same awards show. Britney Spears danced with a snake and Christina Aguilera kissed Madonna (oh yeah, Christina kissed her, too, not just Britney). Everyone was scandalized. These musicians are disgusting! What is this world coming to?!
My point? Miley’s schtick is nothing new. Why is anyone surprised that she did this?
Look, personally, Miley’s performance was not appealing to me. It didn’t make me want to buy her album. I wanted her to put her tongue back in her mouth, and possibly put on some pants. And guess what? Miley doesn’t care, because I am thirty-four years old. I’m not MTV’s target audience anymore, and I am certainly not Miley’s. But here’s the other thing: Today, the day after the VMAs, Miley has two songs in the iTunes Top 10. Justin Timberlake performed for twenty minutes on the same awards show and he doesn’t even have one song in the top ten.
Let’s give Miley the credit here — she’s twenty years old, she isn’t being manipulated by some older Svengali. When she put together her new album, she very carefully created this new image for herself. She’s latched onto a new look and culture (think grillz and twerking) and she knows exactly what she’s doing. She doesn’t want anyone to think of her as a kid anymore … because she isn’t. Let’s also give Miley’s fans some credit here. They’ve also grown up and they no longer look to her as a role model. She’s an entertainer, and she entertained them.
Miley sticks her tongue out when she performs for the same reason Michael grabbed his crotch, Elvis shook his hips, and Madonna kissed girls: to get us talking. Congrats Miley, you succeeded.
Now please put your tongue away.