“Twerk not, vile sprite. Quivering flanks the world traverse in an instant, regret endures beyond rehab’s repeated eternities.” — Christopher Moore
Regardless of what is happening in Syria or Washington D.C. or anywhere else in the world of all things newsworthy, there is one topic which has risen above all others this week. I’m referring, of course, to Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.
For the duration of this column I will assume you have seen the aforementioned performance and for the sake of brevity I will not describe what happened. To be honest, it’s not worth describing anyway.
Cyrus didn’t do anything groundbreaking or innovative. Her dance moves were neither original nor provocative within the context of the VMAs. She teamed up with Robin Thicke and rapper 2 Chainz for a medley that was nothing special in terms of lyricism, showmanship or creativity. Why, then, are people across the U.S. freaking out about the performance?
It turns out the American pop culture critical machine that exists within the dark abyss known as social media has several reasons to hate on Ms. Cyrus and all of them are really, really stupid.
From conservatives lamenting the inappropriate nature of a highly sexualized 20-year-old female performer fingerblasting herself with a foam finger during an awards show, to armchair sociologists storming Tumblr with insistent posts about how Cyrus should be required to take an African-American studies course as a prerequisite to twerking, people have found every possible reason to flood the interwebs with Cyrus-related vitriol.
What have we learned from this scenario?
First, we don’t yet live in a culture where young women can express themselves sexually without drawing the ire of finger-wagging puritans.
Second, if there’s one thing America can still manufacture better than anyone else in the world, it’s self-righteous indignation.
Last, it’s important to take notice of the fact that America’s moral compass is tragically—perhaps irreparably—skewed. Without hopping on a soapbox, I’d just like to quickly urge you to compare the sheer volume of conversation related to Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance with other news stories from 2013. Important, life-changing events have occurred this year, and without exception they have flown under the collective cultural radar. But when a pop star shakes her butt on TV, everyone suddenly has an opinion.
The fact that there is even a scandalous element to any dialogue concerning Hannah Montana in 2013 is proof positive of America’s status as a nation with severely flawed priorities.
Next time a performer is wiggling onstage somewhere, ask yourself if what they are doing is harming anyone. Once this question can be answered, feel free to pass judgment. Incidentally, I’m not referring to the kind of harm inflicted by marginally talented musicians who subject audiences to crappy performances. I’m talking about the infliction of real suffering on fellow human beings. Nobody at the VMAs hurt anyone, and at the end of the day the best thing to do when watching the stupid, self-congratulatory spectacles award shows always are is just to shrug and try to enjoy yourself.