Movie Mom

Movie Mom


What Was Really Wrong With Miley Cyrus on the VMAs

posted by Nell Minow

Another VMA broadcast on MTV, another morning-after round of horrified reactions.  This time, most of the criticism is focused on former Disney tween star Miley Cyrus, whose dance with Robin Thicke included the usual VMA trifecta for female performers: skimpy costumes (one ripped off to reveal an even skimpier one), lewd gestures, and raunchy gyrations.

A lot of people are fulminating about it today.  Some are shocked, presumably those unfamiliar with either the VMAs or the trajectory of female tween stars who like to show everyone that they’ve grown up.  It’s too bad that they so often think that means posing for what used to be called cheesecake photos and other signifiers of sexuality.  Past generations gave children poor guidance by not giving them frank and honest information about sexuality and the result was guilt and repression.  I am not sure the information we give the younger generation now is any more accurate.  Now they feel guilty for not living up to some impossible icon of “sexiness.”

Some try to make it fit a bigger cultural picture.  And there’s a predictable backlash to the backlash.  That’s nonsense.  She was not expressing herself.  She was trying to fit into a distorted notion of what she was supposed to be based on the expectations of people who had no interest in her being herself. Just as with this summer’s “The To-Do List,” people are confusing empowerment with the acting out of externally imposed “norms” that are just as strict in their own way as 19th century strictures against any sexual contact.

For me, it was just sad.  I find it hard to imagine that anyone found it sexy or entertaining.  It felt calculated and desperate.  There was no sense of playfulness or sensuality or pleasure.

It is painful to imagine the kind of pressure Miley Cyrus must be under as she transitions to another stage in her career.  In a pre-show interview, she brought up the notorious Britney Spears/Madonna kiss and it was clear she was hoping to create that level of transgressive buzz.  Instead, she must be embarrassed.

Miley’s fellow Disney alums Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato were also at the VMAs and both won awards.  They were gracious and lovely.  It is possible for a tween pop star to mature into a successful adult performer and still be cool.

Miley would be better off trying to follow their example than to try to be Lady Gaga, whose opening number last night should have alerted Miley to the risks of a brand based on “oh no, she didn’t!”  Gaga’s 2010 meat dress was as hard an act to follow as Hannah Montana.



Previous Posts

Does PG-13 Mean Anything Anymore?
The Washington Post has an article about a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, "Parental Desensitization to Violence and Sex in Movies," with some disturbing conclusions about parents' ability to make good decisions about the impact some media may have on their children. This is not

posted 8:00:58am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Is E-Reading to Kids the Same as Analog Reading?
The New York Times asks, Is E-Reading to Your Toddler Story Time, or Simply Screen Time? In a 2013 study, researchers found that children ages 3 to 5 whose parents read to them from an electronic book had lower reading comprehension than children whose parents used traditional books. Part of th

posted 8:00:40am Oct. 25, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Todd and Jedd Wider about the Bullying Documentary "Mentor"
Producers Todd and Jedd Wider generously took time to answer my questions about their documentary, "Mentor," the story of two teenagers who committed suicide following relentless bullying. The film, which received Honorable Mention for Best Documentary Feature at the 2014 Woodstock Film Festival th

posted 3:56:57pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Clip: Tinkerbell and the Legend of the NeverBeast
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ApzHJhZz2JQ" frameborder="0"] The latest in Disney's animated Tinkerbell series adds Ginnifer Goodwin to the cast. Coming in March of 2015, it explores the ancient myth of a mysterious creature whose distant roar sparks the curiosity

posted 1:23:59pm Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: "Avatar" Villain Stephen Lang on Playing a Good Guy Coach in "23 Blast"
Stephen Lang is best known for playing the villain in "Avatar." But in "23 Blast," based on the real-life story of Travis Freeman, a high school football player who lost his vision but stayed on the team, Lang plays a good guy, the coach who encouraged and supported him. I talked to Lang about actin

posted 5:56:30am Oct. 24, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.