At last night's VMAs, Lady Gaga open the show with a mended hip, Justin Timberlake made us fall in love with him all over again when he took the stage with NSync, and we collectively facepalmed as Miley Cyrus tried to make us forget her vanilla Hannah Montana image.
Social media was on fire after the Cyrus trainwreck. The backlash to her erotic adult debut was as thorough as it was persistent. People questioned the massive teddy bears, and some folks even suggested that her showcase was racist (black female dancers dressed as animals are maybe a touch racially insensitive). Let’s not even talk about the sexual vibes radiating between her and the "happily" married Robin Thicke.
Is it really her fault that she tried so hard to impress us with sloppy sexuality? She is sentient and has a developed sense of right and wrong. So, yes.
But we all share the blame.
As Americans we have long endorsed behavior just like Cyrus'. We have internalized the sexual norms of pop culture and regularly celebrate hyper-sexualization and the people willing to perform it for us.
Look at Kim Kardashian. Her debut sex tape with singer Ray J went viral, and overnight she became a fixture in our lives. Next came Keeping up with the Kardashians, then the businesses, then the gossip, then the marriages, and now a baby with hip-hop icon Kanye West.
Rather than simply bashing Miley for her absurd antics, maybe we should remember the context of her performance. And then we should change that context so it never, ever happens again.
We need to redefine the qualifications of “sexy" and uphold women who know how to exude sexual authority without appearing desperate (like the calm and cool Kerry Washington). Additionally, we need to stop making celebrities out of fools. We will manufacture a celebrity out of anyone that captures our attention for more than three minutes. We need to resist the urge to give people unearned credit, especially when there are hardworking folks with unrecognized talent dying for a shot.
Consumerism is the fuel of pop culture. They sell, we buy. We need to stop buying. Do not buy into garbage and then complain about it on Twitter. Or better yet, buy in to the people that you believe deserve your dollars and your time.