Thursday, August 29, 2013

Hey Miley, It's Your Life You Can Twerk if You Want To

Am I saying that right? Twerk? I like that word. I feel like it should mean tweeting at work, which I never do and neither should you. But hey, you're 20 years old and you get to make your own decisions. So if you want to tweet while working, or rub your butt on the married crotch of beloved Canadian actor, Alan Thicke's son, you go right ahead. It's your life and you can twerk if you want to. That's all I have to say to you Miley 'definitely reading this and every other "open letter" on the internet' Cyrus. Thanks for reading. Moving on now. 

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. 

Fiona Apple, Criminal
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. 

P.P.S. If you liked this post and want exclusive, smaller, funnier posts, come like Ask Your Dad On Facebook. You'll love it, or you can have your money back. 

*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. 


  1. Thank you. This is the first response to the 'scandal' that I can agree with. I did stupid stuff before I grew up and had children, but I wasn't the daughter of the guy that sang Achy Breaky Heart, so no one cared. Do I want my girls to look at that performance and think that's okay? No, but I do want them to be themselves. No compromise. Unapologetic.

  2. Okay, I really hate to be this guy, but Fiona Apple was 20 when she got the award for Criminal. Sorry John.

    1. I have amended the end of the article with proper credit being given to you, Adam White, the coolest guy I know. Also, she was 18 when she wrote it, 19 when it was released, and 16 when she began work on the album. Also, I really think that her later albums, especially 'Extraordinary Machine' are incredibly unappreciated.

    2. Okay, I really REALLY hate to be this guy, but it's spelled "Britney" not "Brittany." She also answers to "Britney, Bitch!" Sorry John.

    3. It's my blog I can spell how I want to.

    4. Adam, hope you are ready to start moonlighting on radio talk shows and the like now that you have been labeled by the 'media' as a 'fact checker'. This is how fame takes off. before you know it you're the one twerking.

  3. This is perfect. I would also like to reserve the right to change my opinion when my daughter is 15, but I would like to hope that I am not relying on the Miley Cyrus' of the world to raise my kid. A performance is just that. A performance. An act.

    Also, apparently none of the shit-losing parents had seen her video for that song before watching the VMAs. Since she twerks and motorboats her way through the whole thing. Which backs up your point of what the hell were they expecting?

  4. I thought Miley was weird, but I, like you, couldn't see anything so radically different about her when compared, Fiona, Gaga, Britney, Madonna, Christina. They all do it. What I REALLY EFFING HATE is the disgusting women-objectifying video for "Blurred Lines." Because of that video, "rapey" is now considered a valid adjective. And now I'm going to go paint my picket signs for tomorrow's street-corner protest against bras.

  5. The VMAs are just there for shock value. That's the whole point. They are largely irrelavant now. There is such a tiny minority of people who watch videos on TV anymore. Miley succeeded in being talked about. Doesn't anyone remember one of the most intelligent women in the business (Madonna) and how she used sexuality to stay relevant for so long? Like all of the comments before me so well stated, "What were you expecting?!"

    Not to mention, nearly ALL of us go through some sort of silliness when we're coming into our own. Often times it's sexual in nature. These kids just go through that on a larger scale - on stage.

  6. My parents always taught me that you don't get your morals from things intended for entertainment.

  7. This is awesome! I am going to print it out and hand it to every mother who continues to rant about this. Thank you! :)

  8. I don't watch the VMA's but couldn't avoid the coverage of her antics. The media and blogosphere made it a big deal, I said my piece a while back concerning it and have moved happily on with my life.

    It's funny though, when you're on the side against those who are outraged about anything and they say "if you don't speak up and act out, you're part of the problem" and then this advice comes along. You just can't get your opinions formed on the internet anymore it seems (said in jest...really)

  9. Love it. Love it. Love it. You are so right.
    I can remember being 20 like it was yesterday (if anyone asks, it WAS yesterday - that birthday party this year with balloons featuring the number 40 was just an error on my husband's part!) People are making whole careers from making parents outraged. Because that's exactly what young people want.
    It's like when Prince released the song "You Sexy Motherf***er". I LOVED that song because it made my mother's blood boil.
    The best reaction to Miley's little act? Shrug and say "I've seen it all before" or don't react at all.

  10. I have *no* idea what happened during the VMA's because I don't watch cable tv. But I *do* like this blog post a lot! It's a cycle we keep repeating and we only make it worse.

  11. Finally someone who sees this for what it is! I got quite a tongue lashing from my friends on Facebook for pretty much saying the same thing! I have raised two daughters and they have listened to all types of music. Not always music I liked but remembering my own teen years I knew the more I forbid it the more they would listen to it. Today they are young adults and on their way to being great producers in society. It was my responsibility to teach my children the difference between what real life is and what performers lives are like. That what they see on the t.v. is not what life is like. I never expected for performers to be my children's
    role models. Their role models should always be those people that live in the non performing world and we come in contact with on a daily basis. Maybe the fact that we live in New Orleans makes it possible for me to see her performance for what it is.

  12. Well in regards to Criminal vs It's My Party I think it's more than a matter of sexuality. I think it has more to do with vulgarity. While Criminal was sexual it wasn't vulgar. I went to watch the actual video of It's My Party and I can say without a doubt it's a bit vulgar. I never actually wanted to see a close up of her crotch to begin with yet it's given to me several times. And while it is vulgar it has been done before and done better, Madonna was vulgar as anything and everytime she did something there was a blow up (heh) about it. I think that most people are ok with sexuality being expressed, it's when the vulgarity is presented as entertainment that people seem to get up in arms.

    That said, I don't care what she does or doesn't do. I'm one of *those* parents who only lets her daughter (almost 10) watch PBS or approved movies on Netflix. My kid has no chance of being corrupted by Miley unless they start showing it at school.

  13. "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."

    Rule 34, baby. Now you've said it, not only does it exist, but it finishes with Lambie in a lesbian pegging scene.

  14. aww! You actually did a great job, your high-quality with the camera, is like you've been doing TV everlastingly, i imagine is not the identical as your videos at home you know with all those people and illumination around you hahaha I love it. Proud of you. You initiate me to the makeup world, now i receive a lot of good wishes on my makeup and my friends and family always ask me to do their composition for special occasions. Keep the good things coming to you. You astound girl.

  15. I actually had never seen the video for Criminal before (my family had canceled cable for a time when I was a teenager) and watched it on my husband's recommendation. What I find very different about that from Miley's antics is that the Fiona Apple song and video express honest feelings about sexuality that many young women relate to. It also critiques the combination of objectification of young women and shaming of that sexuality that society imposes. That contrast is supposed to make people uncomfortable. In contrast, the Miley thing just comes off as wanting to be provocative to make money, not to make a point. I think it's important for young teenagers to have the media savvy to know the difference between the two.