In the week leading up to her return as the host and performer of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, bets were taken on Miley Cyrus’s performance. (How risqué would her outfits be? How many times would she pull a Gene Simmons with her tongue? How controversial would her skits be?)
But after the 90-minute show was up, the Internet seemed to explode with complaints on how she caved into public pressure. How she went a tame route that, as one blogger put it, “Didn’t seem very ‘Miley.’”
People get mad when she’s acting promiscuous, and they get mad when she’s not. In this judgment free-for-all world, celebrities are set up to be criticized no matter what they do.
Don’t get me wrong; I, along with Will Smith’s family and everyone else in the world, took personal offense to Miley Cyrus’s performance with Robin Thicke.
At first I gave her the benefit of the doubt: she’s growing up and trying to break out of the stereotyped box she’s been in since playing Hannah Montana. But when she ripped off her already-barely-there mouse bodysuit, that reasoning went out the window. Instead of being in her corner and cheering for her underdog side to emerge victorious, I was turned off by everything from her twerking to her beige latex underwear.
I stewed in my harsh judgments for the rest of the show. Was over-sexualizing her performance that much really necessary? Didn’t her point come across when she walked out with no pants on? Did she really need to hump that foam finger in front of an audience of tweens and teens?
But after the VMAs, I closed down the illegal stream I was watching the performance on and switched to Netflix to watch Breaking Bad.
As I sat there watching my favorite murderous chemistry teacher run his drug empire into the ground, I was struck by my own hypocrisy. Why is it when something is scripted, my morality isn’t fazed, but when it’s not scripted, I reach for my pitchfork?
In a case of perfect timing, the next day I overheard two business ladies talking about their children’s pending Halloween costumes. Lady A mentioned to Lady B that after seeing Miley’s performance, her fourth grade daughter decided that’s who she wanted to be while trick-or-treating. They both expressed various levels of horror at the thought of Lady A’s young daughter portraying someone who has turned into a symbol of over sexualization, but after a few minutes of discussing different ways to tell her daughter she isn’t going to dress up as the former Disney star, the conversation flipped to who Lady B’s sixth grade son is going to be.
He’s being Heisenberg.
After blatantly eavesdropping on their outrage over Miley Costumegate ’13 for a good 10 minutes, I was almost excited to hear what they’d have to say about Lady B’s son wanting to be a psychopathic meth cook.
Her friend’s response? “Oh, that’ll be adorable!”
Adorable? For her son to go as a morally void character from a show he’s realistically too young to be watching in the first place? Have we really created a society that’s more offended by the sight of skin than we are by a seedy underworld of drugs and deceit? Is it a case of us being incredibly desensitized to violence, or are we just that desperate to find someone to point fingers at for putting sex in the headlines?
I think we all need to put down the torches and let Miley off that stake we’ve been relentlessly burning her on. We can turn the channel if we don’t like Breaking Bad, and we can turn our attention to something else if we don’t like the new and improved Hannah Montana. We may dislike her actions and clothing choices, but we don’t have to use every social media platform at our disposal to let everyone know. In the grand picture, her bad outfit should have lasted a night, not the two months the media has been keeping it alive for.