Was Miley Cyrus really that offensive?

Miley-VMABy Jae-Ha Kim
August 29, 2013

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.

Miley tweet

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

Comments (16)

  1. Dave says:

    I just thought the whole thing was silly and Miley Cyrus trying to be a “sex kitten” of sorts just didn’t work. The outfits both Cyrus and Thicke wore were God-awful, and at the end, I just shook my head and said, “That was stupid.”

  2. John Harrold says:

    Including Spinal Tap in the set would have made it perfect. They could have done Big Bottom.

  3. Jimin says:

  4. Ehnnn…. It’s still a CHOICE to parade around half naked on stage…. Despite the fact that it incredibly Not original …. (Madonna, Britney, Christina ) ….. It is possible to have a solid career with out acting like a dumbass. Robin thicke made his song which had nothing to do with Miley …. Miley already has an established career that doesn’t involve sex….. She CHOSE to out it all out there on national tv…. She rolled the dice and it backfired in my opinion. Plenty of current singers have had good careers without acting like a hooker on stage or using sex or racey lyrics to sell…. Adele, will smith, Carrie underwood…. List goes on.

  5. Seriously, Robin Thicke’s video. Let’s have girls walk around topless and not have eyebrows raised (and still allow it on youtube…)…including a scene where TI is brushing a girl’s hair like she’s an inanimate object..but a woman being raunchy and sexual means she has a habit and an eating disorder and something’s wrong.

    I don’t like Miley Cyrus. She’s a cultural appropriating wannabe who says and does shit she thinks will shock people for the fun of it. Also, every time she sticks her tongue out I want to smack her, but if you’re going to criticize her, maybe widen the spotlight to fit Thicke in, too.

    Oh, and Thicke? You want to know what rhymes with ‘You want to hug me?’

    You fucking bug me.

    Not even going to pretend that’s original but it’s made of win, so.

  6. Patrick Heylin says:

    She was offensive day one.

  7. Rhia says:

    Yes yes yes a thousand times yes!!! I want to kiss this post!!!

  8. Tom Meyer says:

    Robin Thicke and the VMAs! Does anyone believe that this was a Superbowl “wardrobe malfunction”? Do we not know that MTV worked hand in hand with Miley and Robin to stage this stuff? No one, no matter how big, gets to stage their own production behind closed doors. This it the stuff that MTV was made on, and has thrived on for the past 30 years. First Madonna then MTV’s “Real Life”, now this. My real question is why are so many offendable adults watching the VMAs in the first place??? Just switch back to “The Voice” and put all of this vulgarity behind you……..;-)

  9. Jim Rogers says:

    Who the Fuck cares?

  10. Camille says:

    Great article. They always are Jae! Had an interesting thought sent my way by a younger person than me. The whole thing was really cheesy and Miley was awkward not really as suggestive as she might have been, more just exagerated. Perhaps the point was to make fun of the whole “blurred lines” scenario in an attempt to say “As if!” or “In your dreams old man!”. Something to think about.

  11. hanguknamja says:

    i don’t get it either. was the performance vulgar? racist? an insult to so-called “human dignity”? yes, yes, yes, of course. but so is most of popular western entertainment. she merely reflects the values, aspirations, and tastes of the millions who have made her an international superstar. that, above all, explains the outrage directed against her. anyway, this whole thing will blow over, just as her last “racist” “scandal” did (google it; keywords “miley” “chinkeye”).

  12. annatelltale says:

    Basically al I have to say about that thing.

  13. sequinedstrawberries says:

    You’re so awesome 🙂

  14. Deacon Frost says:

    I’m teaching my kids to call it like they see it. She rode a wrecking ball naked, so………………

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