Miley Cyrus at the VMAs: Fair criticism or should the world back off?


It’s time we had a little chat about Miley Cyrus.

Yesterday at the MTV Video Music Awards, Cyrus gave a performance that almost broke the Internet. It was the top story on pretty much every news website in the world. Everybody had an opinion on it and it was all anybody was talking about today. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, here it is:


Yeah. It’s intense.

For those who don’t want to watch (or just don’t want to sit through it again), Cyrus basically gyrated around the stage in her underwear with a bunch of giant teddy bears. When she wasn’t rubbing herself suggestively with a giant foam finger, she was pretending it was a penis. And as if the crowd weren’t confused enough already, Robin Thicke then entered the fray dressed as Beetlejuice, and basically stood still as Miley ‘twerked’ all around his special place.

Cyrus, who at 20 years of age has been going full throttle in her efforts to drop the squeaky clean image from her Hannah Montana days, seemed to revel in the attention her performance garnered. She tweeted the following not long after the performance:


If it was attention Miley (and her publicists) were after, then she got it in spades.

It didn’t seem to matter though that the attention was almost exclusively negative.

Ranging from pity to anger to disgust and beyond, opinion about Miley’s performance has been overwhelmingly not cool. There were thousands of tweets accusing her of ‘raping’ Robin Thicke (who by the way, seems to be getting off pretty lightly considering he’s a 36-year-old married man and she’s a 20-year-old kid). There were thousands of Facebook updates accusing her of being a slut. And this morning there were countless articles outlining everything they hated about Miley’s performance.

Check out some of the online reaction here:

This post on the Huffington Post titled Dear Miley: Here’s what I hope you learned about about adulthood at the VMAs, summed up what a lot of people, especially mothers, were thinking:


“So, let’s start with what you might have learned this morning: Twerking in plastic undies is not sexy, nor is massaging your nethers with a foam #1 finger. We are all for feminism, and a woman’s right to enjoy her sexuality, but it is a misuse of feminism to define it as grinding on Robin Thicke amid dancers dressed like species non-specific plush animals.

You have the right to remind us that you have sex, and that you like it. But only when you no longer feel the need to remind us of that, will we actually believe you. So go out there again, lessons learned, older and wiser. But first, please put on some clothes.”

Paula Joye, of the LifeStyled website, had this to say on Channel 9’s Mornings:

“And busting out of Hannah Montana and feeling that the only way she can do it is with a Coles prices are down finger…. Can somebody explain that finger to me? I mean I thought Robin Thicke looked very uncomfortable, as well, on stage. I think he was like ‘this wasn’t in my contract’, you know.

He’s a 40-year-old man and I think he felt really uncomfortable with her writing all over him… She wants to be relevant. She wants to continue to be relevant and adored… I think a lot of kids though, don’t want to be that. I think the sad thing is, is that the joke may be on her, because I think you’ll find more young girls influenced by Katy Perry’s performance than by Miley’s.”

Brooke Shields, who played Cyrus’ onscreen mum in Hannah Montana spoke about it on the US Today Show: “I was Hannah Montana’s mother! Where did I go wrong? I just want to know who’s advising her, and why [the provocative dance routine] is necessary, [My children] can’t watch that. I feel like it’s a bit desperate.”

But not everyone is coming out against Miley’s dance routine. There are a few (not many, but a few), who have spoken out in support of the young star. Those coming to her defence are mostly concerned about the implications of ‘slut-shaming’ a young woman who is just exploring her sexuality and aesthetic.

Check out some of the more supportive tweets here:

There was also this post today from Mommyish, which explored the possible implications of calling out Miley’s behaviour as inappropriate:

“Equating sexy dances/tiny wardrobe with respect is some very, very dangerous terrain and one of the most prominent pillars of rape culture. Relying on this whole “values” script for our daughters (and of course our sons) just affirms the whole Madonna/whore dichotomy crap that defines and limits our daughter’s goodness to what is between their legs.”

And this post from Thought Catalogue looked at whether there is anything to gain from the public being so widely critical of the performance last night. The show not being to your taste is one thing the author argues but saying that Miley’s father should be ashamed, is whole other ball game:

“There is a distinct point at which the valid criticisms of what the machine behind Miley, and Miley herself, is attempting to sell becomes something much more sinister.

There is a point at which it goes from discussing the reasons you might not like an artist or disagree with her message, to taking a chance to swipe at every girl who has ever enjoyed herself or gone through a period of self-discovery by dressing and acting like Miley does.

There is a moment when it goes from being fair, to being cruel. And though I’m not exactly sure where that moment is, I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere around the hashtag #mileyasssmallerthan.”

So what’s your take on Miley’s performance last night? Do you think the criticism is warranted, or should the world just back off?