At the 2013 VMAs, Miley Cyrus Finally Lost My Support
As awards shows go, the VMAs tend to be relatively controversial, due to the fact that the voters are angst-ridden 14-year-olds. Swifties, Beliebers, Directioners, Mahomies (who knew that was even a thing?) and more all compete to give their favorite artists as many Moonmen as possible, and so, each year, viewers watching at home form and Internet-vent their inevitably divisive opinions. Yet at this year's VMAs, a certain performance/sideshow/sex simulation brought together both the in-house and at-home audiences for seemingly the first time ever. Miley Cyrus, singing "We Can't Stop" and then dueting with Robin Thicke on "Blurred Lines," stripped and twerked her way into rare Internet unity: making everyone uncomfortable.
Cyrus' VMA act wasn't the first time the 20-year-old had unsettled viewers with risqué behavior, of course — the "We Can't Stop" video wasn't exactly G-rated — but it did mark the first time in the singer's career that "she's just being Miley" didn't cut it as an excuse. The performance was just too strange, too explicit, and too ridiculous for people to enjoy or understand. Unlike her previous antics, which, while definitely odd, were in line with Cyrus' trademark wildness and passion for originality, the VMA act was something entirely different. It signified that Cyrus had finally crossed the line; by humping teddy bears and twerking on Robin Thicke, she had lost the respect from many that she had worked so hard to earn. Just search "Miley Cyrus" on Twitter to see.
For years, post-Hannah Montana, Cyrus was dogged in her pursuit to make it clear that she wasn't just another squeaky-clean Disney Channel star. She got caught smoking salvia, entered an adult relationship, and admitted to having sex. She had her share of controversies (remember that Annie Leibovitz photoshoot?), but compared to the scandals that many of her teenage colleagues faced on the regular, they were minor and insignificant. With her smart, rational attitude, Cyrus consistently proved that, despite her immense fame, her confidence and maturity were no act. Of course, she had her critics, but for the most part, people seemed to respect her refusal to stick to Disney's pre-set guidelines and, instead, make her own path to adulthood.
Yet, in recent months, Cyrus' increasingly bizarre antics have called her level-headedness into question. Her wildness, which was once refreshing in its uniqueness, now comes off as over-the-top and unnecessary. The "We Can't Stop" video, her twerking obsession, her need to make "Bangerz" happen — it all seems desperate, done for shock value instead of a genuine desire to entertain. The VMA performance was the culmination of several months of speculation: Is Cyrus, once the most mature and respected of her peers, going off the deep end?
We sincerely hope not. Cyrus' individuality is what makes her stand out from her Disney colleagues as well as a large portion of her older Hollywood peers. Her realistic, mature approaches to sex, drugs, alcohol and adolescence earned our respect, and made us hopeful for her future. Out of all her teen counterparts, she seemed the least likely to end up in rehab or jail, due to her rational attitude and commitment to a long-term career. She had the talent (remember those Backyard Sessions?) and the poise to make an impressive, graceful transition from teen celebrity to adult superstar. She still has the skill — her new single, "Wrecking Ball," proves that she can produce a power ballad that rivals anything from Kelly Clarkson or Beyonce — but it's her character, now, that's in question.
Perhaps things will change. Maybe the overwhelmingly negative response to the VMA act will make Cyrus begin to question her own behavior, and alter the unsettling direction she seems to be heading in. Or maybe Bangerz will prove to be so good an album that people won't care about her crazy antics, choosing to focus on the quality of the music instead. Call us selfish, but we want to support both the music and the girl behind it. If Cyrus stops gyrating 24/7 and lets us remember that she's the smart, independent singer we once knew and loved, she'll have our respect back in no time.