By Sean Hudgins
By now, anyone with access to an Internet connection has seen Miley Cyrus’ infamous performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards.
Everything about the spectacle was a train wreck, from the dancing bears, to Cyrus’ puzzling wardrobe decision, to her “twerking” all over R&B artist Robin Thicke. The performance was lewd, confusing and generally inappropriate.
In the time since the award show, most have written the performance off as another desperate attempt by the former child star to show the world that she is an adult.
Admittedly, an overly sexualized routine, complete with several moves that involved Cyrus touching herself with a giant foam finger, was probably not the most mature way for her to prove that she has, in fact, matured.
The proper approach would have been to simply come out in some sort of sparkly, suggestive, yet still tasteful outfit similar to what Britney Spears wore to the award show back in 2003.
Cyrus could have sung a new track, thanked fans, both old and new, for supporting her and taking the journey with her as she continues to grow, and then headed off stage.
At the very least, she could have kept most of her clothes on and her tongue in her mouth. But then what would we have to be outraged about and talk about for days?
Those complaining that Miley’s sound has gone seriously downhill since her days as the Disney Channel’s poster child, or that the once squeaky clean Hannah Montana has become a horrible role model for her younger fans, are missing the point. Cyrus should not be blamed for the performance; she is merely a product of her environment.
Since its inception in 1984 the VMAs have always been about creating a scene. That year, Madonna, then described as the “Queen of Pop” captivated audiences with a very suggestive dance routine of her own.
The 1992 awards show saw Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain destroying his band’s equipment as drummer Dave Grohl simultaneously took the mic and began taunting Guns N’ Roses lead singer Axl Rose from the stage in an attempt to provoke a fight.
Many still remember the uncomfortably passionate kiss shared by Madonna and Spears during a performance in 2003 and, of course, who could forget Kanye West’s outburst in 2009 during which he stole the spotlight from “Best Female Video” winner Taylor Swift?
All of these incidents were rebellious, most were inappropriate, but all got people talking. That is the primary goal of the Music Television Network and the VMAs. MTV, like any television station, needs to boost its ratings.
Miley Cyrus needs to stay in the spotlight in order to promote her new album, which is to be released in October. Grabbing media attention and sparking a discussion are the quickest, most effective ways to do so.
Whether viewers approved of the performance or not is irrelevant. Cyrus will almost certainly see better record sales in October than she would have had she taken the stage and acted “normal.”
A normal Cyrus would fall by the wayside, because her music sounds like every other dance-pop track that MTV pumps through our television speakers. None of the performances featured any guitars or drums or much of anything that actually needed to be played.
Instead of this, we heard an overwhelming amount of bass, synthesizers and much-distorted vocals. These are the elements responsible for the sameness that permeates the current pop music scene and are the reason why we need spectacles like Cyrus’ to keep things interesting.
Cyrus’ performance would have been way out of line had she still been on the Disney channel, but the fact of the matter is she left that network over two years ago. There was a time when we would willingly accept the excuse that “she’s just being Miley,” so why can’t we now? After all, the mess we saw was standard MTV fare designed to get viewers talking. It was distasteful, but it was also incredibly successful.
Though Miley is undoubtedly struggling with some personal issues, she is not the one who needs to do the re-evaluating.
Instead, fans of pop music ought to re-evaluate the quality of the current songs that are hitting the airwaves, begin demanding a higher standard and, if they are still looking for a scapegoat, look in the direction of MTV, which has been exploiting these stunts for almost two decades.