Is American culture this gullible that hardly anybody seems to realize that Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance was intentionally provocative for the same reason that generations of pop tarts before her went and did “controversial” VMA performances? Just like Britney Spears and Christina Aguliera raunched it up at the VMAs when they were trying to move beyond child stardom, and just like another batch of Disney kids will raunch it up a decade from now. And just like Justin Timberlake did with the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” Super Bowl performance with Janet Jackson.
It’s not easy to make the leap from child star to mature adult performer, to extend the 15 minutes of fame into a lasting career. The “shocking” VMA performance is all part of the script. Nothing more. It’s about creating publicity and buzz while demonstrating to the world that you aren’t a kid anymore.
The most successful “shocking” controversy was Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl stunt, probably because all of the blame was unfairly directed on to Janet Jackson, but the story remains the same. The Madonna and Britney kiss. Miley in flesh colored latex. It’s all rather boring because it’s just variations on a theme.
In this case, it wasn’t terribly successful because trotting around on stage with a bunch of teddy bears and with her hair in tiny pigtail knots didn’t successfully convey the image of “adult woman.” She came across as a sexualized child. That was especially creepy given that she was performing with Robin Thicke, whose “Blurred Lines” is already disturbing enough without him performing it with someone who seems less a mature adult than a very young girl playing at being sexy.
Don’t blame Miley Cyrus for following the script. She’s just trying to extend her career beyond the Disney factory system and to be more than a one hit wonder like her father. If you want to blame whoever thought it would be sexy and not incredibly disturbing to have her dancing around with childish stuffed animals while performing along with Robin Thicke, be my guest. But mostly, you need to blame yourself and the rest of American culture that buys into this manufactured controversy every single year. This faux scandal isn’t Miley Cyrus’ fault, it’s ours.