I thought that all the hoopla surrounding Miley Cyrus’ performance with Robin Thicke on MTV’s Video Music Awards would’ve died down by now. But, it hasn’t. And while there has been some fantastic commentary about the meaning of their performance (as it relates to sexism and racism), I was disappointed to see that the majority of comments boiled down to this: Miley Cyrus is a little whore with a flabby rear end.
Today, I saw on my newsfeed that Thicke’s mother — actress Gloria Loring — chimed in, saying that her son’s performance was fine. As for Cyrus, however, Loring said, “I just keep thinking of her mother and father watching this. Oh, Lord, have mercy. … I was not expecting her to be putting her butt that close to my son. The problem is now I can never ‘unsee’ it.”
With all due respect to Ms. Loring, who seems to have genuine concern for Cyrus, I have to ask: What is it you’re trying to unsee? Was the duet raunchy? Absolutely. Was it silly? Yes. But was it pornographic? No. Ms. Loring apparently doesn’t remember some of the steamy love scenes that were a regular part of the soap opera in which she appeared.
I don’t have a beef with Loring. But as a veteran performer she, (of all people) should know how females — especially young women– are sexualized as a form of entertainment. She should also know that despite what her son may be claiming, this routine was rehearsed to death. Both singers knew exactly what they were doing and the reaction it would provoke.
I don’t like the song they performed, “Blurred Lines.” It’s stupid and incredibly sexist: “So hit me up when you passing through/I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two.”
Gross. Thicke’s mother didn’t seem to have a problem with the lyrics, which are pathetic. His music video for the song is even worse in the way it demeans women. It’s also much more offensive than that tacky MTV performance.
Clearly, I didn’t like Cyrus’ and Thick’s VMA performance. But I get why they did it. It was to grab people’s attention. And it worked.
So, I ask. Why isn’t Thicke being held accountable for his part of the performance? Aside from a few references to his ridiculous Beetlejuice-inspired suit, naysayers have pretty much left him alone.
And, just as importantly, why wasn’t he dancing around in a Speedo? Had he done so, the performance could’ve taken on a satirical aspect that wouldn’t have been as cringeworthy. Because let’s face it. He came across looking like a dirty old man. Despite the fact that Cyrus is 20 — old enough to join the military and just three months away from being able to drink legally in the U.S. — she looked a good five years younger.
People are asking why Cyrus’ parents didn’t stop her from doing this. (As if any parent can easily control a 20-year-old adult.) But no one is questioning why Thicke — a 36-year-old married father of a toddler — willingly participated. Why doesn’t he bear any of this onus?
We all know why.
The male gaze is honored in our culture. Which is why young women like Cyrus strut around barely dressed, but their male counterparts (Justin Bieber, One Direction, any male artist you can think of) do not. And why it’s almost expected now that female former child stars prove they’re ready to transition into the next phase of their careers by doing sexy layouts in men’s magazines. Drew Barrymore posed for Playboy when she was 19. Jessica Biel was not yet 17 when she went topless for Gear.
During Super Bowl 2004, Justin Timberlake got to perform with Janet Jackson, who he admitted having a crush on when he was much younger. As part of their rehearsed act, he ripped away part of her costume, and her bare breast was briefly revealed on television. The fallout over a nipple was insane. But, he recovered nicely, while she was dismissed as being a slut with an inappropriate piercing.
I’d like to ask Robin Thicke’s mom — and all the others who’ve labeled Cyrus as a slut, a skank and a disappointment to young fans who grew up adoring Cyrus as Hannah Montana: What kind of message are you sending to your own children by calling her this?
How would I have explained their duet of “Blurred Lines” had I allowed my young son to watch their performance?
I would’ve said: This is a silly performance. It’s their job to entertain, but I don’t like how they went about it. I don’t ever want to see you behaving like either of them. I love you, son.
© 2013 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved
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