Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Why Are We So Upset With Miley Cyrus?

Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter Miley.
Two days after MTV's Video Music Awards, the provocative performance of Miley Cyrus is still making headlines. I'm just wondering why.

She is not the first female singer to perform in a sexual manner; in fact, risque dancing is more the norm than the exception today. Salt N' Pepa, Madonna, and Britney Spears are just a few of the many artists who have used suggestive costumes and dancing in their musical performances. That's not even counting all of the men who push the boundaries in their work, often in even more explicit ways. If you need to see an example, watch singer Robin Thicke's video for "Blurred Lines." There is also an unrated version of his video you can find online.

So why has Miley been singled out? Do we think at the age of 20 she is too young to be performing like so many of her predecessors? Or was her dancing just too over the top for an event aimed at kids and teens? Both of these are fair points. But I think the biggest reason that we're expressing disgust at Miley is quite frankly ... because we can. The ubiquity of social media has provided everyone with a smartphone the opportunity to broadcast their opinions to the world. We live in an era where  the success of TV shows like "Fashion Police" depend on the quality of their insults, and where being snarky has become not only respected, but an art form. Gloating over other's misfortunes, or as you would say in German - schadenfreude - is not a new concept. But it is getting a whole new life and voice in our twerky world.     

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