Last night, Miley Cyrus busted out of a teddy bear and proceeded to jump around wearing latex underwear, dancing provocatively up on Robin Thicke while her tongue lolled out and her pigtails shook. The Internet has gone into overdrive about it, with talk shows hand-wringing about how "sick" and "disgusting" Miley is, while others, less inured by the pop-cultural spectacle, point out that she is at the top of the pop chart game.
Yet, today, people want to discuss Miley Cyrus, the appropriateness of her performance, or if — like the Smith family seems to think — she just went too far and blurred sexuality/youth, white/black, decency/shock to some indiscernible degree. Unfortunately, we just don't know. Each of our editors has a different take, from knee-jerk reactions of glee to a mother who flipped off the TV for her young daughter. Here is a brief take on how we feel, but we'd like to try to open up the conversation here. Let us know what you think, who you agree with, and what you have to add to the discussion.
Connie Wang, senior global editor: "I really appreciated the fact that an artist at the VMAs — an awards show that's always known for pushing boundaries, but has lately gotten so, so sanitized — made me fidget. But one of my main qualms was that it was too easy. I'm not offended by a 20-year-old being overtly sexual, but I am offended that she was thoughtless in the way she exercised that sexuality. From the "choreography" to the "costumes" to the lazy (and racist) appropriation of what she considers "hood" seemed to have taken as much effort as placing one large Spencer's Gifts order.
Lexi Nisita, news editor: "I'm not going to lie. I liked Miley's performance, in the very purest sense that while watching it, I was having an awesome time. I'm sure that reflects badly on me. But I also can't help but think that while the outrage about Robin Thicke's equally sexual, crass music video remained relatively muted, the public is much quicker to slut-shame a young woman — or say that she is a confused victim who can't handle her own sexuality. Personally, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming that she was in control and making a conscious choice, even if the result wasn't artful or even interesting."
Seija Rankin, associate news editor: "When her performance first started, I thought it was hilarious/insane/wild...basically all the things I felt when watching the 'We Can't Stop' video. But then, the bit descended into a whole new level that made me very, very uncomfortable — mostly as a result of the Robin Thicke interaction. I'm all for owning your sexuality, but I felt like I was watching a young girl, desperate for attention, stoop to a place that she's going to be ashamed of or embarrassed by later. On a whole, it was just sad and disturbing."
Gabriel Bell, staff writer: "God, what a mess — an overheated chicken salad of the worst things about the '90s. It's like a Gregg Araki movie and a New Jersey rave in 1996 teamed up and took a dump on Madonna's Sex book. The overtness doesn't offend me. The lack of style and taste does."
Leila Brillson, senior news editor: "Miley Cyrus is not a fool, and she understands the power of the female body — even if she is still figuring out how to wield said power. Her newfound lackadaisical attitude of 'I don't care' shouldn't have anyone surprised that she is on stage, shaking her very small but toned derriere on live television. What is surprising is that we are still shocked by sex, and that sex is being served to us in really egregious, over-the-top ways. Here it is with a teddy bear and pigtails! At least when Lady Gaga serves us sex, she serves it up with a bit of discomfort, which makes it more shocking/poignant."
Hayden Manders, editorial assistant: "My initial response was akin to Rihanna's 'not having it' attitude (I'm still reeling, to be honest). I have no problem with Miley's antics. She's doing her thing. She might have slipped up, but people are talking about her; it's fabulous marketing for her upcoming album. I'm more concerned with what prompted MTV to pair these two together in the first place. What did MTV honestly expect having a rebelling child star share the stage with the pop world's gigolo? The whole setup was asking for controversy. Some face might have been saved had Miley performed alone. Nevertheless, it happened, and now a little siren goes off every time she pops into my head."