Faster than Justin Timberlake can expose Janet Jackson's breast, the entire world is alive with mock outrage over the Miley Cyrus performance at this week's MTV Video Music Awards. Parents locked their kids in their rooms. Teachers planned special discussion groups to help students to cope with the trauma. And Disney is all but placing a warning sticker on every single copy of Hannah Montana merchandise in existence. All because Miley Cyrus dared to act...sexy?
But that's just it: Miley Cyrus wasn't sexy. She wasn't sultry. She wasn't shocking, nor was she scandalous. Miley Cyrus was, simply put, trying too hard. She so wanted to shock us and to show us what a big, sexualized rock star she's become. Instead, she just looked like someone who really, really wanted our attention, just not in the way we're giving it. She wanted to show us she's all grown up, but instead looked like she brought a bottle of schnapps to a pillow fight.
You can't really blame her. The 20-year-old singer has been living in the shadow of her Disney character for so long, she's been beating herself senseless trying to be seen as anything other than bubblegum princess. Anyone who has been paying attention for the past few years has seen this coming for a long time. It seems pretty obvious that, for a teeny-bopper desperate to shed her skin and re-invent herself as an adult, the VMAs would be the perfect place.
Scandals always happen at the Video Music Awards. The fact that we play along at all is amazing at this point, considering we've seen it so many times in the past. Kanye West was a jackass who interrupted Taylor Swift. Madonna pulled the equivalent of drunken spring breaker when she locked lips with Britney Spears. And, not for nothing, but Madonna was also the first VMA shock artist when she ungracefully rolled around on stage in a wedding gown singing "Like a Virgin." At this point, outrageous displays of idiocy, narcissism and vulgarity are more common at the ceremony than actual music videos. Oh, yeah...remember when MTV had those? They should have an award ceremony for them or something.
Now, in yet another attempt to pretend the VMAs are at all relevant any more, we have the faux outrage over Miley Cyrus. She stumbled around awkwardly, wearing more clothes than the average Hooters Girl, and rubbed up against Alan Thicke's son. Frankly, I was more shocked when Christina Aguilera didn't come out onstage and join them. After all, weren't we just as gossipy back when she pulled this same stunt over a decade ago?
At least Aguilera was sexy that night, all those years ago. And at least she appeared to know what actual sex is. Cyrus, unfortunately, looked more like the girl you knew in high school who constantly bragged about all the sex she was having yet was secretly a virgin. Tongue wagging? Crotch touching and butt-grinding? Her moves weren't sexy as much as the attempts of someone who has no idea what sexy is trying desperately to make us believe she does. It was kind of like asking an Amish guy to explain digital porn.
Yet all over the Internet and in the media, people are still acting as if what Cyrus did was remotely as scandalous as what we actually witnessed. All we really saw was the equivalent of someone getting drunk at the office holiday party and jumping onstage with a karaoke mic. The kind of thing we'd snicker at and pat her on the back for the next morning. All while reassuring her the hangover will eventually go away. But instead we're tweeting desperately about it as if it was just revealed she's been cast to play Catwoman in the Man of Steel sequel.
Instead of being shocked at Miley Cyrus and her shenanigans, be shocked by the fact that MTV apparently still has music videos and apparently still gives them awards. Be shocked that the statuette is still that Moon Man that Miley Cyrus is far too young to remember. And be shocked that people tune in to cheer for awards to videos they'll never see...unless Robin Thicke is in it with a bunch of naked women.
Oh, and for the record, the best video of all time is still Thriller.