Miley On Mute at the VMAs


The siege has begun.

Miley Cyrus, in all respects, is over. The day I have been waiting for since I was twelve years old is finally here. I’m sure you watched her horrendous performance at the VMAs. We all saw her stalk out of a teddy bear wearing bad imitations of Baby Spice pigtails and swivel and shake and strain-scream into the microphone. She was so caught up with “beating” Madonna (which she never will, partially because you can’t) that she didn’t sing. She choked out the lyrics of “We Can’t Stop”, which is such an easy song key-wise that any high schooler in an a capella class could do it. But she couldn’t. It’s in the top 10 most-bought songs this week on iTunes, and she couldn’t sing it. Auto-tuning is real, my friends. And it’s the only thing levitating this floundering, red-lipped starlet. My achey breaky heart is finally mending itself. This will be her demise.


The Tell-Tale Sign that She Only Cares About How Hot She Is:

Yes, Miley, the way to encourage healthy body images in the girls who love you is to rip off your clothes to reveal perfectly bony, smooth, and starved limbs. You can prance around and swing around a faux-penis foam finger and rub it between your legs. You can twerk against Robin Thicke all you want. And that will achieve everything you want it to: you are the current pinnacle of desirability.

Awesome, I can concede that. Some other white teenager will easily rob her of that title later this week. But it is utterly laughable that she is heralding her naked cabaret as the “most astounding VMA performance ever.” When Madonna and Britney Spears kissed on stage, it became untouchable and the BEST VMA PERFORMANCE because it broke the hetero-normative glass ceiling. Two girls kissed — two straight women, but they were brazen and had an understanding of what it meant to perform a lesbian-esque activity in the brightest of spotlights. And pushing your ass into Thicke’s striped crotch is supposed to replace that? Try again, Smiley.


What Miley Cyrus lacks is actual forethought behind what she does. She’s trying to shock us. That’s it; the magic ends there. She has no political or social agenda because either she or the people that “made” her don’t see that the way to be everlasting is to actually say something useful. And all I or anyone else hears is white noise. Lady Gaga at the 2010 VMAs was exceptional not because she wore meat, but because of what the cow extracts actually meant. As a figure, she represented the correlation between celebrities being “eaten” by the public — and also, as a woman, she represented women consumed and overpowered by men. The meat was appropriately awing, hanging juicily with parts of it visibly rotting. But it was only a visual symbol of something much deeper and nuanced. Where were Miley’s nuances? Was she hiding an actual penis behind her hand puppet? She is the best example of what one of my friends would call a massive “DB”: dumb bitch.

She’s made it clear that the music itself doesn’t matter. Everyone’s heard her sing by now. But the Sex Pistols taught us that it can also not be about music but about fame — being an invincible public figure. But to keep that up, you have to stand for something. So, let’s tag Miley as standing for… bikini waxes? Female ornamenting? Teddy bears that now represent the delusional middle class experience?

Rihanna’s Face Was the Best Part of the Whole Disaster:

I keep reading articles about how everyone is trying to copy Rihanna — her music videos, her voice, her complete domination over the dance scene. When you go to a club, you don’t just expect Rihanna; if you don’t get her, you’ll go somewhere else. I’m not going to claim that she has all that much to say within her lyrics all the time, but that’s not the point. She’s extremely conscious of the empire she has built. Teen princesses all try and fail to emulate her — Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Kelly Clarkson. So it should come as no surprise that here Miley was trying to pull a Rihanna. In front of the real deal.

Miley struts right past RiRi’s face, and, in that glimpse, we are told everything we need to know. There’s bored horror there. But the best part is the tiny smile playing at that corner of her lips. While the Fresh Prince, Jada, and their kids look absolutely revolted (and I don’t blame them), Rihanna looks the tiniest bit amused. I think she knows what we all do; that not only will trying to copy her one-of-a-kind wow factor not work, but it will also finally tank this sorry excuse for a music industry mogul.

And, also, I’d just like to point out that Rihanna can also sing. As in, truly and wonderfully, at least in terms of pop ballads. Her early hits like “SOS” show the limits of her voice, but she uses them to her advantage. She’s not trying to be the power voice of Beyonce or Mariah. She’s Rihanna; the once young and impressionable, and now the alluring Queen of the Shadows. But always beautiful,  powerful, and strategic.


Get Past the Temporary Shock and We Draw a Blank:

If were’e being prissy we can talk about how Cyrus’ bikini washed at her skin tone and looked like a stretched out condom, and how Robin Thicke looked like Beetle Juice. And we can talk about  how much of travesty it is that ‘We Can’t Stop’ was nominated for three awards. But it is up to us to stop her short. I’m done with music critics yelling about how bad pop music is right now. It doesn’t matter if it’s amazing or horrendous- it’s there. It’s the social side that I care about. Public spaces, and especially music, is dominated by boxed stereotypes. Right now, we have Miley Cyrus, white It-girl. We have sex-magnet white man, Robin Thicke, who just props himself upon Pharrell Williams (a black man who got no  award for either ‘Get Lucky’ or ‘Blurred Lines’).

The Decline of Miley Cyrus begins now, as long as my faith in the American public guides me straight.  Surely, we can see, once the jittery shakes wear off from watching and re-watching the VMAs, that the truth is obvious.

“It’s my mouth I can say what I want to.” Nah, Miley, not if you’re a cultural mute.



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