Miley Cyrus gave quite a performance at the VMAs last night. In case you’re unaware (Mom, this is for you), Miley Cyrus has a famous father who has managed her career which began sometime around age 11. She is 20 and her resume is longer than most adults in the neighborhood.
Last night’s performance featured a lot of tongue, dancing that once upon a time was reserved for strip clubs and flirtation with both genders. Much like Emily Ratajkowski (age 22) Miley appeared to be next to naked. The question I have for us all is why do we see Emily Ratajkowski as a sexy lady who stars in a video but look at Cyrus as a child who is melting down in public?
Celebrity is a strange thing and the only thing we like to do more than create a celebrity is to tear one down. Child stars are a whole new animal. With the advent of Nickelodeon and Disney came the ability to create characters, market and distribute them all through one giant funnel. There’s a massive machine behind Hannah Montana that makes Judy Garland and Shirley Temple’s days in the limelight look like 2nd grade class plays.
There is nothing odd or unusual about a sexy 20 year old. There’s nothing bad about near nudity at 20, in fact I’d heartily encourage it. There’s nothing about your body that’s likely to get better at 30. A brain yes, a body no.
I’m not the target audience for MTV so I’m sure they won’t care a bit when I tell you that I don’t think Cyrus’ performance was particularly good. The tongue and the crotch grabbing were decidedly unsexy and some say lewd but we embraced it when Gene Simmons and Michael Jackson did both of those things. Is Miley Cyrus going to make us evaluate what is ladylike and what skanky girls do? Why are boys just being boys and why is Miley being bad?
Miley Cyrus was wearing her shirt and performing live to an audience of millions. She was singing and dancing and interacting with both people and cameras. If you didn’t like the performance that’s fair but picking on her body? Unfair.
There’s the obvious explanation here that she’s busy being athletic while wearing something that appears to be like vinyl and of course there will be movement. There’s the fact that most of the free world wouldn’t look as good as Cyrus before dancing. There’s something bigger happening here and if we’re talking about the “imperfection” of a very perfect ass we’re having the wrong discussion. Everyone loves to talk about how we’re not supposed to care about how people look, it’s supposed to be what’s inside that matters. We’re supposed to be all about fat acceptance (for the record I am not) and enough with the slut shaming.
Can we just talk about the fact that a 20 year old has grown up in front of us and we are all extremely uncomfortable with seeing a child mature into a woman. We hate that our Disney kid is a young woman and that not every moment of her life will be lady-like. We hate that she’s a sexual being and lose our minds that an intensely misogynistic song that celebrates rape culture is turned on it’s ear with a performance that has a 20 year old girl taking charge of the 36 year old man who shares a stage with her.
This freaks us out and let’s not pretend like it’s about her.
The women of the video are sexy because we didn’t know them as kids. Maybe we are Miley’s problem.