And anyone who still thinks she is might well be asked where they have been; the former Disney star has been embroiled in controversy on and off for years following the conclusion of her Disney channel show and trying to transition into the adult world of music as opposed to the sheltered, in her case, values centered world of child acting. From provocative lyrics in her proceeding album, to pole dancing in one performance, to what she was doing off stage; her Vanity Fair, bare back shot, generating shock and outrage based on both her being only 15 and her wholesome, role model image. Then there was “drinking gate,” caught in Spain drinking what was deemed an alcoholic beverage; after that she was videotaped by a houseguest smoking what she said was Salvia from a bong at her newly purchased home in California, a home apparently bought without her father’s knowledge, an out of character move for the then 18 year old star. Such behavior has caused continual speculation she is spiraling out of control, suffering from the perils of young stardom similar to Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan and so many others. And now there is her latest, what some are calling publicity stunt, a raunchy stage show at Sunday night’s MTV VMA’s that included a lot of ‘bumping and grinding,” twerking, a dace move appearing to involve bending over and shaking your behind, touching herself, suggestive moves holding a foam finger all while dressed in a teddy bear costume, backup dancers likewise in teddy bear costumes; Cyrus later exposing a nude bikini. Her act creating so much uproar the Parents Television Council filed a complaint opening up on MTV about the TV14 rating the show was given; many TV personalities echoing the same thing, Sam Champion of Good Morning America stating the rating was why parents sat down to watch it with their kids.
However it must be remembered, this was MTV and the VMA’s not Nickelodeon’s Kid’s Choice Awards, not a program aired on Cartoon Network, ABC Family or the Disney Channel, the family oriented channels out there. Further MTV is a cable station not a network one with a long history of questionable content igniting controversy for parents and parent groups alike going all the way back to the ‘90’s cult classic Bevis and Butthead, which returned to the network in 2011 producing stellar ratings. Another MTV fan favorite Jackass was repeatedly scorned for its potential to make young people engage in dangerous, reckless activities despite disclaimer warnings; this is the same MTV that currently hosts programs like Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant. Nicknamed reality TV that has enticed girls to get pregnant, or try, to be featured on the program or because they think having a baby will be like it is on the show. Hinting maybe they should go after them rather than the TV 14 rating for a music program blasted by other critics as lame, made all the more so by Cyrus’ act. Incidentally if your family is represented by the Parents Television council, is wholesome, traditional values centered, you probably haven’t been letting your kids, tweens or teens watch MTV for years. Or, again if that is your value set, what were you doing sitting down to watch the VMA’s in the first place? Next the VMA’s are first and foremost a music awards display of performances meant to wow audiences, meant to demonstrate the best in the business and give popular acts a chance to be seen by fans, music shows that have been steadily increasing their content ratings to older and older demographics over the years, music shows known for their more dicey, borderline performers. Lady Gaga ‘bleeding’ on stage feared to be promoting suicide, a drugged out Britney Spears, Madonna grabbing a lesbian kiss with both Spears and Christina Aguilera, Adam Lambert’s American Music Award performance characterized as walking dancers on a leash, shoving his face into someone’s crotch and forcing his keyboardist into a lip lock. Meaning these award music shows are staged for shock value, where artists try to one up provocative acts gone before, bringing us to another fact about the content of Miley Cyrus’ eye popping segment; it was a duo held with both Robin Thicke and a rap/R&B artist complementary to Thicke’s summer hit blurred lines about women who tease, enticing a woman, flirting, not implying no doesn’t mean no, or glamorizing rape, something value extremists have already tried to claim. Correlation proving said content was not completely out of nowhere, as so many negative reactionaries seem to believe; one commenter on the Miley freak out held, especially by conservatives, went like this and sums up exactly what the problem is with the reaction. “The most ironic/ infuriating thing about this is that the lyrics to “Blurred Lines” are about a “good girl” who really “wants it”… so when Miley, the former good girl, starts dancing like she really “wants it” we all freak out. Yes, how DARE Miley debase the family-friendly message of “Blurred Lines!” For sham and/or shame!” Neither are kids who want to be in the music business, want to be a star necessarily going to go out and imitate what she did a-la the show. Truth be told, she lost a lot of her Hannah Montana fan base, a lot of that tween age bracket, when she started doing more adult things, not just because parents found it inappropriate, but because the tween boy or girl audience didn’t like it.
Addressing the wardrobe censors, the outfit complaints, specifically the nude colored bikini; there are flesh colored, also known as nude, socks, tights, undergarments you can buy at any clothing store, big box stores like Wal-Mart, not an S&M, adult store. Items like these usually warn with beige clothing to avoid disclosing undergarment lines seen through your outfit, wearing tights that severely clash with the other colors in your outfit. Not only that, but despite her wearing a “nude” bikini, no one saw any body parts not allowed to be seen in public vs. Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl that honestly seems to have been an accident where something came loose, broke, slipped or ripped, something that wasn’t supposed to be, like so many other stars since. A direct opposite to Lil Kim known for wearing nipple pasties and nothing else on her top-half to be considered minimally decent in public; warn exactly for shock value, warn not solely in performances, stage shows, but in any publicity outing. Next, nude bikini or not, Miley exposed no more skin on stage than a young girl, a woman, especially her age, being 20 not 12, would at any beach across the nation. Still the family values crowd takes their family to the beach, right, where they might see an even worse sight, a woman in a thong, oh the horror. Sentiment tying directly into additional comments leveled at another star, Lady Gaga, about her thong and how appropriate was that for 14 year olds to see; except they already see it at a beach, the pool, the neighbor sunbathing. Of course these are the same single minded advisory boards and persons throughout America, whose thought patterns line up with the conservative initiatives nationally, who would not hesitate to push new modesty limits to be enforced on public beaches so their kids aren’t subjected to such things, or pushing for children’s only beaches based on the same premise. Equally surprising to similar parents, perhaps even most parents, is what 14 year olds already know whether that’s about twerking, not a concept, a move learned from TV, a music video, a stage act, but from YouTube, other corners of the internet. Shocking is what they have garnered from their peers, outside sources about sex, about all the taboo topics, taboo for their age issues, they already understand, are aware of, that routinely leave use with our mouths hanging open. It is a nearly identical case evaluating the validity of some celebrity generated twitter comments. One star tweeting they had to now explain to their 11 year old why they could no longer follow her career and Lance Bass of N’Sync worried about his nieces and nephews tuning in to see his bands reunion tweeting in part, “I didn’t know I had to warn them about hm/mc humping a foam finger.”
Yet here too is where legitimate parenting, adults watching out for impressionable kids, comes in; the rating given to the show was TV 14 therefore it is not suitable to an 11 year old audience. Now considering the limited space to communicate on a site such as twitter, it is entirely possible all the star meant was after seeing her performance at the VMA’s there is no way their child will be allowed to look at, own any of Cyrus’ current work, keeping it to the existing Hannah Montanaparaphernalia they already possess. Unfortunately it is just as likely the twitter commenter let their 11 year old view the show thinking they were tuning in to a variation of a Hannah Montana stage atmosphere. Ratings are there for a reason independent of whether you can force people to use them. Following the need to use rating guides to determine what you and members of your family view; you are the final decision on if a program baring a TV 14 rating is indeed safe for your children to see. In this illustrated case and the one regarding Mr. Bass’ littlest family members; again not only did it have a TV 14 rating, but there is no reason whatsoever it could not have been recorded, previewed by the parents and watched later, if they deemed it appropriate, or let them watch the band reunion segment, acceptable parts, and nothing else. Actions parents have been taking since the age of the VCR, made all the easier by DVR, leaving people wondering why everyone from the Parents Television Council to users of social media, across all age groups, are blaming the star for doing a performance. Depending on the age of the child, young kids aren’t going to understand the stage act, so we can all stop hyperventilating. They are more likely to ask what she was doing or why she was doing it; questions parents don’t want to answer, don’t know how to answer, forget age appropriately, so they nervously turn off the TV, fumble something to quiet their child then blame what came out of the box. Adjacently parenting today is a verb that means paying attention, kids will always ask to read things, watch things, do things that they really are too young for; parenting means making those decisions, knowing if your 14 year old can or can’t handle content or an activity. It means keeping up with your child’s interests, not only knowing what they are interested in, but what are the people, personalities they are interested in, doing; you would practically have to be living under a rock not to hear at least a little of the rumors about Miley’s downward spiral. Therefore it was up to parents to act accordingly in accordance with their values rather than pining for the Hannah Montana, Star Jones said it best, died years ago.
Because, like it or not, Miley Cyrus is an adult star creating adult music for a broader audience; revealing an added facet of the problem. We were so shocked in part because we have always had a misconception of who she was as a person, the depth of her capabilities as an actress, a performer. Hannah Montana is a character fabricated around a television program attempting to teach values to the tween set, attempting to show said tweens the difficulty in balancing fame and a personal life, particularly at their age level. Miley Cyrus on the other hand is a human being with her own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, not necessarily identical to the role she played. She is an actress who grew up while we all still see her as the child from the character she so embodied; she is an actress who grew up while parents and the public simultaneously kept the squeaky clean image of her. Similarly it is just as important who is loudest in crying their outrage as it is that watchdogs, viewers are outraged; chief among said groups are people along the caliber of Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, of MSNBC’s Morning Joe fame, known for their conservative views, known for hating the level of violence and other objectionable material on television, people like those who cannot digest the change in Miley, who think Mayberry was real. Mr. Scarborough who painted himself a hypocrite when talking about the gun control legislation not slated to pass congress, hosting a show with Campbell Brown talking about the big picture regarding masseurs like New Town being mental health and what children see on TV, in video games, both going on at considerable length about the futility of the ratings system for either; then, the very next week, his guest was Edie Falco talking about her show on cable, him praising the superiority of her acting, the freedom she has on the network to play such a flawed, real character, even when that freedom includes liberal use of the F word, not sanctioned by the FCC because it is non-broadcast television. It is the same with his co-host, besides the facts, defying Ms. Brzezinski’s rant, practically proving Miley Cyrus doesn’t seem to be self-destructing, all the things she’s done creating questionable buzz the drinking, the smoking were committed and consumed in countries or states where it was legal to do so, Miley Cyrus does not look unhealthily skinny but she still implied the latter had an eating disorder, yammered on about her mental state, stating someone should be fired for putting her on stage like that. The kicker, quite literally, is when commenters quickly posted links to a photo of Ms. Brzezinski wearing a dress, laying on her back atop a desk, kicking her legs up and staring at her Morning Joe co-host. Returning to the parenting suggestion in the previous paragraph and Mr.Scarborough, he spotlighted his mistake regarding his own children and a performance by Britney Spears holding a snake and slithering on the floor, how scarred his 6 and 9 year old were from the experience, taken to the show to see N’ Sync. He continued by bringing up middle school and what girls at his son’s school were willing to do, referencing bracelets and sex parties both of which are now debunked as urban legends. He took his 6 and 9 year old to a place age inappropriate, probably bearing a TV14 rating, even back then, blaming the star for the provocative act. Worse, because, though Britney Spears was originally a Disney star, she was long out of the child star persona even to the consuming entertainment public.
Matt Lauer got it right when he said several things beginning with why are we shocked and taking the unusual position she should get an A+ for accomplishing exactly what she wanted, her performance leaving us all running around talking about it; it might well be added, having done so without winning a VMA, without being one of the top rated acts prior to the show and without the song truly being that good. additionally parents so outraged they are talking about it in little groups as they drop off their tweens at school, pick them up, willing to start petitions, take to social media ranting about television content, ban MTV watching in their household ensures one thing, those young, impressionable teens who didn’t see it will now go looking for it. Instead of perhaps using it as a teaching tool showing this is a bad way to get attention, it will get you the wrong kind of attention, could cause you to be assaulted, could land you a reputation you can never get rid of, they’re all indignant it was allowed on cable. He also deduced correctly Ms. Cyrus’ attempt to transition into the adult world of performance proven necessary by everyone’s shock, everyone’s reference to both Hannah Montana and her “declining mental state.” Transitions that are always fraught with problems, ripe for backlash by fans, critics and anyone one possessing any kind of social media account; Daniel Radcliffe got flack for doing Equus between Potter films Natalie Portman was hounded by conservatives for taking the role in Black Swan, because of its psychological elements and mature content dealing with abuse, eating disorders and mental illness, a role for which she later won an Oscar. Telling us this isn’t anything new; and something for the older generations to learn, if you don’t like it turn it off, if you don’t agree with it ignore it. The exact opposite of what everyone is doing making it a safe bet there will only be more to come.