The Shocking Truth About Miley Cyrus' VMA Performance

If you're under a rock, perhaps you've missed the fact that the internet is currently awash with shocked reaction gifs and hyperbole about "the decline of Western civilization" than seems humanly possible regarding Miley Cyrus' "disgusting" performance at last night's VMAs. Oh, the viral-ness! So far today, Billy Ray Cyrus has been photoshopped as a floating idol of disappointment over the stage, similarities between Cryus and Hank Hill were not-nicely noted, and everyone's seen Will Smith and his family looking horrified.


To understand this significant cultural phenomenon, I'd like to figure out why exactly so many people found the VMAs so shocking. Was it all the artists that delivered sterile, non-sexual performances in the past? Was it the many married artists that haven't kissed people in music videos? Was it that Miley Cyrus is the first musician ever to wear a skimpy outfit on stage? Was it that her ass is not 100% round and toned like everyone else’s? Maybe Miley Cyrus is the first person to have a dad?

What shocks me about the Cyrus performance is what it reveals about her critics. The same body-positive people who defend a woman's right to wear what she chooses and would attack anyone who mocks another's body sling hate and shame toward Cyrus as if her celebrity status has elevated her beyond basic humanity.

I find shocking how many people in my feed saw no hypocrisy in posting a “no body policing, love all body types, you're all beautiful” picture two seconds before a comparison of Miley’s butt alongside Hank Hill’s.

If an institution like the VMAs decides to celebrate a music video, how can its near-exact recreation be offensive? Maybe it's not Cyrus with the problem but our hypocritical viciousness. Find an eloquent reason for your discomfort (like a criticism of Cyrus' cultural appropriation, Robin Thicke’s misogyny, or the poor quality of Cyrus' performance) or get out of here with the slut and body shaming.

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Koby Omansky

Social justice advocate and feminist with a passion for social accountability and economic/political philosophy. Livin' the liberal arts lifestyle at Sarah Lawrence College. Strong supporter of the micropig movement and the salting of caramel.

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