Miley Cyrus' Distustingly Desperate VMA Performance

Cyrus contributed to a deeply disturbing trend in popular culture – the sexualization of teen and pre-teen girls.

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Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performs onstage during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Neilson Barnard/MTV/Getty Images)
Miley Cyrus performs with a foam finger in front of Robin Thicke at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.

There were people who didn't like those unserious mop-head haircuts The Beatles sported. And rock-and-roll sure caused some headaches among parents who preferred to put their Lawrence Welk vinyls on the turntable. Some of those '60s protest songs might have ruffled the feathers of what was then called the Older Generation. And I have a memory of listening to "Cocaine," by Eric Clapton, and my friend's father walking into the living room with a scowl, saying: "I don't like it. It glorifies a drug."

Yes, there will always be disagreements about what constitutes quality music. And it's pretty much understood that younger performers and listeners will try to annoy their parents. Given all of that, I have an important message for Miley Cyrus.

Sweetheart, nobody wants to see your tongue.

[Check out our gallery of political cartoons.]

The 20-year-old Cyrus's performance at the Video Music Awards show was, to put a fine point on it, disgusting. It was disgusting because it was so crudely sexual it had no sexiness to it whatsoever – Cyrus wearing beige underwear, grabbing her crotch, and bending over in a stripper position as she writhed against the crotch of Robin Thicke. Not sexy. Just gross and brazenly, pathetically attention-getting.

It was disgusting because Cyrus kept sticking out her tongue as she danced among larger-than-still-life teddy bears (what was that all about, anyway?). She must have trained for the event, as her tongue seemed to slither all the way down to the top of her shiny bra.

It was disgusting because Cyrus was contributing to a deeply disturbing trend in popular culture – the sexualization of teen and pre-teen girls. If Cyrus doesn't know better, at age 20, not to contribute to the exploitation of the tween and teen girls who loved her as the fictional singer Hannah Montana, maybe her father, singer Billy Ray Cyrus, know better. But – oops – he really doesn't. The elder Cyrus told "Entertainment Tonight:"

Of course I'll always be here for Miley. Can't wait [to] see her when she gets home. She's my little girl, and I'm still her dad regardless how this circus we call show business plays out.

[Read Leslie Marshall: Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Sad, Not Sexy]

Well, he must not have been watching too closely if he thinks of her as a "little girl." Unless, of course, that's just some sort of euphemism for pole dancer. And as for the "circus:" yes, it is a circus, and both Cyruses can choose to join or not join it. You can sing and perform without looking like you're auditioning for a porn movie.

MTV, which aired the VMAs, has contributed greatly to music by allowing performers to add live action to their music. It's also enabled some really bad performers, allowing them to cover up a lack of talent by distracting people with light shows and raunchy "dancing." The theatrics don't make it better, anymore than oak barrels make Chardonnay better (in fact, wines are left in oak barrels longer when the quality is low, to cover up the substandard taste).

[See photos from the 2013 VMAs.]

Brooke Shields, a fine actress and all around lovely person who knows something about sexualization of young girls (having been in those then-racy Calvin Klein jeans ads), had the proper response, telling the "Today Show:"

I [played] Hannah Montana's mother. I do not approve. Where did I go wrong? I just want to know who's advising her, and why it's necessary. I feel like it's a bit desperate.

Desperate, indeed. Disgustingly so.

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