Last night there was an awards show in Brooklyn. Depending on who you talk to, there were some shocking aspects to this show. If you ask my uncle, it was probably the very existence of Barclays Center destroying the romance/character/life/parking of Brooklyn. If you ask anyone else, it was Miley Cyrus, being as Miley as she could be, dancing around in a teddy bear swimsuit, sticking her tongue out and humping stuff, on live-ish television, for us.
The reaction to her hypersexualized dance/sing-a-long to her own song was not exactly mixed. People either hated it because it was “racist,” hated it because it was “embarrassingly raunchy” or hated it just because it was “disgusting.”
Dear internet: get over it and accept that Miley Cyrus just won the VMAs. Sure her singing was a little terrible but I mean, so was Robin Thicke’s, the man who is technically old enough to be Miley’s dad and didn’t seem to have a problem with her doing her whole imitation-of-sexy-by-a-little-girl-who-watches-too-much-TV thing all over him. And just as no one was too bothered by Robin Thicke and his group of sexy girl back-up dancers and the fact that he was clearly down with Miley touching his swimsuit area with a large We’re #1 hand, no one is freaking out about 2 Chainz, later in the same number, also having anonymous lady back dancers doing sexy moves. So it appears that the only person at the MTV Music Video Awards who isn’t allowed to objectify women is Miley Cyrus. Does this seem unfair to you? It seems unfair to me.
First: everything she sees in pop culture tells her that to be successful, and by successful I mean REALLY successful, Justin Timberlake/Lil Wayne/Jay Z successful, she needs to make women sex objects in her videos. That’s pretty much what music videos are about (and this was the Music Video Awards, right?). And she wants to be that kind of successful because she grew up on the Disney Channel with a dad who sang “Achy Breaky Heart” (lots o’ nice-looking country ladies in that video by the way) and it’s pretty likely that the only way she measures her self-worth is by retweets, YouTube views and record sales. So if the boys are allowed to take this path to super-fame, why isn’t she?
Answer: because she’s a girl.
But Miley doesn’t care about all that. Instead she cares about getting your attention, which she did last night, in a way that would make Madonna proud, by acting like both the objectifier man and the sexy object girl. Not only that, she got the exact reaction she wanted under her own terms, unlike previous VMA winners “I’m-gonna-let-you-finish” West and “Sad-little-girl” Swift, who got their VMA glory/opposite of glory due to alcohol consumption and Beyoncé.
So as much as I wish women weren’t treated like disposable blow-up dolls in a lot of our culture and as much as I wish Miley would have sounded better, I approve of her glass ceiling breaking because in my heart I have always thought girls should be able to do anything boys can do, even if that thing is objectifying women on live TV. And if people are shocked about this, then maybe it will make them think about why, for at least a second. Why they aren’t shocked by the hypersexualization of young girls whose names they don’t know, who weren’t once Disney princesses and who aren’t in control of their own image, on TV, in ads and as back-up dancers. As I’ve said before, Miley isn’t the problem. If anything, she might be the one pointing the problem out.
Anyway, I’m sure she doesn’t care. As she says: “it’s our party/we can do what we want.” Right now, we are all just guests at Miley’s party.