I first met Miley Cyrus over a decade ago when I was slinging noodles for a local pastaria. She was cute then, like most children are. Her face was stuffed full of spaghetti. I remember Billy Ray’s credit card had his face for a background design. Not a security photo, like you see sometimes, but as the design. Apparently you can get that now, too. Back then only Billy Ray could, it seems. Her father was filming something in Toronto at the time, yet whatever claim to fame he carved out that year, it would never compare to the use of his one-hit-wonderful single Achy Breaky Heart to flush out the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas.
It is interesting that though his pop infection of a song failed to drive the cult members out of their complex, drive them sane, or make them dance, his moderate fame and comfortable wealth drove his daughter strange. Blessed with opportunity, wealth, an auto-tunes compatible singing voice, and conventional good looks, she has blossomed into an uncomfortable, semi-naked performer on a stage.
Her performance at the VMA Awards last night has been unanimously declared terrible by the Internet. Her aggressive attempts to rub her scent all over Robin Thicke’s Beetlejuice costume has sparked thousands of conversations on Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook. It has been called embarrassing, raunchy, and inappropriate.
The proper word for it is Baffling. How a young woman with symmetrical features, lacking both clothing and body fat could fail so spectacularly at being sexy is astonishing. There’s no shame in being a stripper, but being a stripper this uncomfortable in her own skin is a lot like being a lazy janitor or a surgeon with ablutophobia: It is dirty and wrong.
Not that I blame Miley. She’s a young adult with ambition, and she’s willing to make a fool of herself in front of millions of people Her metaphorical balls are bigger than yours, bigger than mine, bigger than this guys . She has grown up on a sitcom, with a semi-celebrity income, and lived out her adolesence as a pop star. How many of the people she has been surrounded with, her hairstylists, fashion consultants, or fans do you think have told her No?
We are speaking of a young woman who has not lived through the appropriate stages of anonymous teenaged awkwardness, who has not experienced rejection like most people do, who has lived her life as the center of attention. Her natural response to this derth of constructive criticism has been to act like a fool in her underwear, with her tongue wagging aimlessly, lost. And what of it? That is what people do, when not restrained by shame or socio-economic limitations, apparently.
So, while Miley Cyrus disrobes, twerks, and uses foam fingers inappropriately, why don’t we ask ourselves these questions:
1) Why is the awkward hypersexuality of a marginally talented young woman being passed off, yet again, as entertainment?
2)Was everyone waiting for her to become of age like your older brother’s creepy friend, or is the entertainment industry driven by the boners of 13 year olds to more of an extent than we’re comfortable admitting?
3) Is construcive criticism undervalued in this age?
4) If Miley decides one day to spend all of her money on legitimate charitable causes, would you regret your own critique of her dance numbers? I probably would.