It was hard to ignore the public outrage and my curiosity got the best of me, so I searched YouTube for the video and had a look. Did I find her performance bizarre? Yes. Raunchy? Absolutely (I’ll never look at a foam finger the same way again). Inappropriate? Without a doubt. Shocking? Well, no.
Sure, Miley put a stake in the heart of her Disney Hannah Montana image, but did we really expect to see a Hannah Montana performance at the VMAs? It reminded me of Madonna and the uproar about her “Like a Virgin” video when I was a teenager. Remember that? I know some of you were appalled by Miley, but you could have turned off the TV. You didn’t. You watched.
Frankly, I was more shocked the first time I looked at the Facebook pages of some of my son’s “friends” where I found enough Miley wanna-bes to make your skin crawl. Didn’t their mothers see what I could see on their home pages? Do their parents see what they wear to school? I heard a story about one mom who, after getting a phone call from the principal about the inappropriateness of her daughter’s shorts, brought an even shorter pair to school for her to wear. I was horrified when I heard the rumor that a girl in his class had been caught giving blow jobs to boys in the same grade! I was stunned when I read the following entries on the ask.fm/[insert name] page of one of his 13-year-old female classmates:
“Asker: i’m so horny i want to fxxx you in your tight pxxxx
Her response: come over”
“Asker: Please let me slap your big ass and feel your boobs
Her response: i dont even have boobs ha”
“Asker: Can u give me a lap dance
Her response: Deffinatly”
(Note to parents: You should talk to your teenagers about ask.fm/. It seems to give anyone in the entire internet universe the ability to ask anonymous, open-ended questions to the page owner. Scary stuff!)
Miley has grown up and so has her audience. She’s no longer marketing to little girls, but to teenagers who are not as naïve as we would like to think. Miley’s no fool. She knows exactly who is buying her new image and the industry seems to be on her side. According to Rolling Stone, “Miley was the one star in the room who truly understood what the MTV Video Music Awards are all about… Miley stole the night, which is why the nation is still in recovery today.”
Any parent who was shocked is not paying attention. Long before the performance rocked some parents to their core, my son told me about Miley’s outrageous video for “We Can’t Stop.” Have you seen it? Your kids probably did. It’s an easy find on YouTube, and the inspiration for her VMA performance. P.S., your kids probably also watched the unrated video for the song Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke, the 36-year-old man with whom 20-year-old Miley was “twerking.” (Sorry if I didn’t use that word properly in a sentence.) My son reported that there are lots of boobs in that video, easily found on YouTube. He’s right!
The point is: if your children have an internet-enabled device, or watch any television at all, they have likely been exposed to a lot of unsavory content. Even some of the most popular songs on the radio should give us pause. I love Justin Timberlake, but the lyrics to “Suit and Tie” might require some explaining to a 10-year-old.
In this age of information access and overload, I believe the best defense is a good offense. I showed the Miley performance to my 14-year-old who, to my relief, had an appropriate jaw-dropping response. I can’t control everything my kids are exposed to, but I’m learning that I can give some meaningful perspective on the content they see and hear. We also shared a good laugh about those giant stuffed animals shaking their booties. I have to admit, it was quite entertaining.
Don’t blame Miley for doing her job. In my opinion, we should be thanking her for putting a spotlight on bad behavior and giving us yet another reason to talk about it with our kids. Rock on Miley.