Miley Cyrus is getting torched by commentators across the ideological spectrum for her aggressively sexual performance during Sunday’s Video Music Awards.
The former teen sensation was simply doing what the culture taught her to do.
Cyrus didn’t blaze any new trails with her gyrations. Madonna has been peddling shock sexuality for decades. It seemed to work out fairly well for the 50-something star, or as Forbes calls her, the highest paid celebrity of 2013.
A number of former teen idols have embraced their budding sexuality as a means of transitioning to more mature fare. Just go stream the lurid 2013 drama Spring Breakers for a primer on that method of career transformation.
We live in an information overload age, and cutting through the noise is Job No. 1 for an act no one ever accused of having superlative singing skills. The media, from Tabloid Nation to allegedly respectable outlets, do the rest when folks like Cyrus embrace their lusty side.
What will happen the next time the erstwhile Hannah Montana sends a flirty tweet, stops at the local coffee shop or just sticks out her tongue for the umpteenth time? All of the above will generate copious press in both new and old media, even if she’s only stepping out to collect the mail.
The press adulation, which can help her market her music for free, doesn’t last forever. But there’s always the 2014 Video Music Awards, and does anyone doubt MTV will be begging for Cyrus to return? Network executives are probably working on a rough draft of their invitation to her right now.
The only stubborn question she’ll face is, “can she top herself?”
We’re part of the problem, too. How many of our friends shared their reaction, or actual clips and photographs, of Cyrus’ MTV performance presumably to cluck their tongues over its tasteless nature?
More fame. More clicks. Few, if any, negative repercussions.
Will singers refuse to perform with her in the future for fear of tarnishing their brand? Can we expect concert venues to opt against letting Cyrus take the stage when she comes to town? Will any producer, manager or similarly powerful entertainment executive think twice about hiring her after last night’s performance?
No one is calling for a creative boycott. It’s just an example on how little negative effect such a performance can have on a career.
Cyrus may never earn the “respect” of her more talented peers, but it’s clear that’s not her goal. Besides, our culture prefers young performers to let it all out hang out rather than let their art speak for them.