If I've learned anything over the last 32 years, it's that nothing increases the value of a youth commodity more than parental outrage. Well congratulations online parenting community, you have made Miley Cyrus the hottest thing to happen since Mortal Kombat came out on the Sega Genesis.
|She could totally beat Raiden. Raiden suuuuucked.|
I didn't watch the Video Music Awards. Judging from my Facebook feed the next morning, a lot of people did. If I were left to interpret what happened at the VMA's based solely on the collective shit losing of almost every parent I know, I would have assumed that Miley Cyrus came on stage, sacrificed a virgin goat, bathed in its blood while screaming in Latin, summoned a 40 foot Satan from the depths of the stage, and in turn, began the end of days. Well, it was a good run folks. You should have listened to me back when I predicted this would happen during the second season of Hannah Montana.
Then I watched the video. OK, it was a little tasteless and crass, but come on folks. You are watching a television station that produces two seasons a year of a show about confining hot bodied 18-25 year olds in a house stocked with unlimited amounts of booze, filming them, and calling it "The Real World." What the hell were you expecting? Masterpiece Theater?
Maybe we're just pissed that it wasn't a good song. Much more talented Fiona Apple was only 16* when her music video for 'Criminal' won best direction at the 1998 VMA's, and it is much more sexual than Miley Cyrus pretending to twiddle with a foam finger. I can't even watch it now, as a dad it just makes me feel icky. But I remember loving it when I was 16.
|16 y/o Me: Oooh - 33 y/o me: Ewwww|
This isn't the first time a young woman has used her sexuality to distance herself from her pre-established, childlike media persona. Remember when Brittany Spears made out with a snake? Remember when Drew Barrymore flashed David Letterman? What about the time Shirley Temple pantomimed fellatio with Ray Milland shortly after he won the Oscar for Best Actor at the 1946 Academy Awards? OK, I made the last one up. But my point is, instead of being outraged every time an exploited, over-privileged, over-marketed young girl rebels against everything she's been told she needs to be by putting on a bear suit, stripping, and rubbing her butt on someone, why not just acknowledge that she is just the latex covered byproduct of the media we so readily eat up every day. Miley is not the problem. We are.
If you don't want Miley to go nuts-ball crazy on the VMA's, stop watching the VMA's. If a Miley Cyrus creepily tongue waggles her way through a foam finger humping rendition of "It's Our Party" and no one is there to bitch about it on Facebook, does it still happen? I don't know. Probably not. Ask science.
"But what about my kids who grew up watching Hannah Montana? They wanted to see her on MTV!" If you don't want your kids to find out that the Disney image machine is a giant lie, stick to the cartoons. They never grow up. I promise that you're never going to see Doc McStuffins performing a strip tease to her latest single "Drugs Are Awesome, and You Should Never Listen to Your Parents Again," at the Video Music Awards. That, or maybe we can teach our kids that characters on TV are different than the people that play them. This isn't new ground.
So can we please stop feigning all this faux-outrage and concern for Miley Cyrus. She's either going to be fine, or she's not. No blog post, or open letter, or self reflection of a dad in Utah is going to change that. Miley Cyrus is an adult, and she is either going to turn her twerking into a bazzilion dollars or she's not. Let's quit pretending this is something new that we have to stop. Sexuality in pop music hasn't changed. We have.
Love, Dad (John)
P.S. I reserve the right to completely change my opinion on this once my daughter is 15.
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*Resident fact checker and Ask Your Dad Comic artist, Adam White has kindly pointed out in the comments that Fiona Apple was not, in fact, 16 when 'Criminal' won at the VMA's. She was 20. A quick Google search helped me find that she was 18 when she wrote it, and 19 when it was released. So less creepy, but still a little creepy.