by Lauren Finkle
Miley Cyrus’s utterly unexpected VMA performance lit up the internet with articles, memes, fans’ shocked musings, and videos. There was love, hate, and nothing in between, and I for one was siding with her detractors.
Critics and supporters have played tug-of-war trying to make their opinions on how Miley’s performance treated African American culture the loudest. Surrounded by black back-up dancers, whom she used as objects she could play with inappropriately at will, she makes it very clear where her performance stands on black appropriation. I do not have an issue with her performing a dance viewed as singularly African American; my problem is that she uses it to degrade the very people she has taken it from, instead of paying homage to them. The overtly sexual performance, which drew many disgusted faces from the audience, objectified the black back-up dancers behind Miley and ridiculously parodied a real aspect of African American culture.
Miley also drew fire for the shocking combination of a barely-there outfit and extremely suggestive dancing. I found what she was wearing to be inappropriate for anything other than a private performance in her bedroom. When are today’s awards shows and artists going to stop relying on the “wow factor” and begin using talent to make headlines? Perhaps a singer could attract attention for singing live and maintaining the correct pitch, without the help of that ever-pervasive autotune. Miley’s performance lowered the standard for clothing necessary to step on stage by several notches. What with how quickly outfits are shrinking, I could guess that by next year no one will blink an eye at nudity.
Yes, women should be comfortable with their bodies. No, there should not be a double standard. But could we all agree on a basic level of dignity and clothing? Could we accept that there are things better suited for one’s partner than for an audience?
Miley’s performance not only widened the number of inappropriate acts and outfits that are socially acceptable, it also isolated millions of her fans. She should not be tied down to a role she stopped playing three years ago, but she also should remain mindful that she has fans from that era left over. Miley should have been more thoughtful of her fans during her teenage transition. Other stars have accomplished this: Selena Gomez, however questionable her music may be, certainly showed off a more grown-up image with the release of her new album, but without doing anything that would make her fans never want to cuddle with their teddy bears again.
The 2013 VMAs would be more correctly titled “Miley Cyrus Bares All.” Let’s just say, she needs to stop.