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In Praise of Miley's VMA Performance

Posted: 27/08/2013 00:00

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus' VMA performance has been almost universally derided. Social media and newsfeeds have been bursting with pop fans and professional critics castigating the spawn of Tish and Billy Ray.

The level of outrage prompted me to seek out the video of her performance. It couldn't really be that bad, could it? This is MTV, after all, not Babestation.

Looks like I'm in the minority - I see a brilliant, funny and confident performance. The charts are full of faceless dance tracks and bearded, mandolin-playing public schoolboys, it's refreshing to see somebody showing some personality. From her side-shaved head to the prominent tongue-poking, Cyrus sets her stall out with punk exuberance. The next four minutes are all about self-promotion and she is about to play a beautiful game.

As a 21st Century pop tart, Miley's creative grandparents are Michael Jackson and Madonna whose performances burst with sexuality. She pays clear homage to Jacko as she grabs her crotch and nods to Madge with a stage style straight out of The Girlie Show. These were both things that happened twenty years ago. Why are we still outraged by them?

By the time Robin Thicke appears, singing feminist-baiting Blurred Lines, the stage already belongs to Miley. He has wandered into her territory like a little boy about to lose his lunch money. She bends over and playfully rubs up against him and then she is gone, before his limp microdick can muster much of a response. This is Tank Girl versus The Misogynist Of The Year. She is not there for him like the girls in his video, she's running the show. She then pushes the over-sized finger of a foam hand between her legs and thrusts it out to a cheering crowd - she has a bigger dick than all the men in the arena. This isn't a corrupted little pop puppet, this is a self-assured young woman having fun with sexual expression and she should be applauded.

Long-term fans were naively disappointed in the former Disney Queen. The sexual liberation of pop princesses is a well-worn chapter in pop's rulebook. Britney and Christina made this transition ten years ago. Miss Spears courted outrage when she signaled her submissive desires in I'm a Slave 4 U and a leather-chapped Aguilera shot her teen image to bits in one swift slut drop when she became Dirrty. Both tracks were effectively accompanied by orgy flicks where the pop videos should have been. It's a necessary manoeuvre to shed the child-star skin and achieve longevity in the business of show. Miley's not a little girl anymore, she's not even a teenager, she's 20 and she's having fun and that's exactly what a proper pop star should be doing.

Run her down all you like, the collective outrage actually meant Cyrus stole the limelight from Lady Gaga's much-anticipated comeback. No mean feat. The controversy has almost guaranteed Miley's next performance will be even more sensational and as long as the alternative is those boring beardy schoolboys, I look forward to it very much.

 

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