Since it's still a thing... Miley's VMA show - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-24-2013, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone interested in talking about this? I read a lot of stuff, and some of it is pop culture blogs/sites. It looks like everyone is (still) obsessing over the VMA performance, specifically Miley Cyrus' part. She's being strongly criticized for a sexually explicit performance that, apparently, is also racially insensitive.

So, my take is this. I have noticed that most extroverted people between the ages of (roughly) 10-30 years old tend to hit at least one phase of mimicking their favorite cultural phenomena, be they dance moves, sexual exploration, clothes, or opinions. For some, it is expressed by being radical and revolution-craving activists. For others, it is pushing the envelopes that were previously stuffed by their pop culture predecessors. Whatever the expression, I just see it as normal and part of the journey for anyone inclined toward being publicly seen and/or heard.

I was very interested and immersed in popular black culture as a young tween/teen. I was a white girl who dreamed of someday having mixed-race babies and a booming car stereo. I loved rap music and baggy pants with tiny shirts. I then segued into a tattooed punk rock fan who was completely classist and hated all things corporate and suburban. I then became a music journalist who wrote mostly about the rock genre and lived my life around a club concert schedule. Shortly after that, I threw myself into being a pin-up model and burlesque performer- posing, producing, dancing and singing my way through all manner of sexually charged performances.

This all changed once I became a mother. For once, I let societal and cultural expectations throw a wet blanket over all my fires. I morphed into an unrecognizable version of my self- a muted and mundane mother of two little spitfires. Now that my kids are 5 and 2, I am back to exploring who I am beyond the bubble of an attachment parenting housewife with a passion for sustainable living and simplicity. I am reintroducing myself to musical flavors I previously left ignored, and exploring fashion again now that I'm not a non-stop milk fountain. I'm transitioning from my yoga pants and v-neck tees to clothing that I find fun and attractive to me. For me. In many ways, it's like I'm back in my teens, trying to find what suits me and best expresses who I am and what I love. I tried being non-fashionable and listening only to kid-friendly music and avoided anything overtly sexual or radical. But that's just not who I am. I am genuinely interested in and attracted to some things that would be subversive and offensive to some, but that is who I am. I don't mingle well with most playground peers, and that's okay.

The big difference between me and Miley is that I have been her, to some extent, and have grown up and out of certain things. But I am working to appreciate and celebrate the things that make me unique (and probably undesirable to many other moms) in order to authentically be me. What better example can I set for all the young Mileys of the world, and especially my own kids. I am who I am, and I love who I am.

I never in my life intended to be offensive to any culture or race or anyone, but other people have and always will see me through their eyes instead of mine. I suspect Miley will go through some sort of shame or regret for some things she's done. I know I did. But, then, I moved past that and grew to regret suppressing my true self to better suit my playground comrades. I wasn't doing anyone any favors then, either. Now, I'm 33 and am able to fully appreciate all my stages in my journey to present. I no longer see a need to feel ashamed or regret, because I learned. I learned that I don't have to be center stage with all my rambunctious tendencies, but I don't have to lock them all in the closet.

Miley is actually very fortunate to be her age at this time, where lines really are getting blurred more and more. It's becoming more and more acceptable to be out about who you really are- gay, preppy, ghetto, hippy, suburban, urban, techie, Trekkie, bronie, bookish, or anything else. We can all embrace our quirks and kinks (and all our true natures) and learn as we grow. I support all the young people on their journeys to adulthood and self love. I see no reason to get all judgmental and hateful on these young people who are honestly and enthusiastically exploring who they are and how they take up space in the world. There's really no need to shame them or overreact to any of it. It is her expression of who she is and what she's into right now. It certainly shapes her as she grows, but by no means defines her as a person for all her life. And, by the looks of it, her life is probably pretty sweet. Go on, Miley. Do your thing. Listen to the critics. Hear them when they highlight a portion of a worldview, but don't let it get you down. Live your life and grow as you go.
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Old 09-24-2013, 02:51 PM
 
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I didn't see why there was SUCH a huge uproar about what she did. She shook her booty in scanty clothing? At age 20? Yeah, I'm not seeing the big deal. Is it because she used to be on a kid show, back when she was a kid?

I dunno, to me Miley was just this year's Madonna rolling around on stage singing Like a Virgin, or Britney writhing with a snake, or Lady Gaga dying on stage or wearing a meat dress, or Diana Ross feeling Lil Kim's exposed breast, or Madonna & Britney kissing. Every year, it's something, and this is what "it" was this year. I'm more surprised that we, as a nation, are still genuinely shocked over silly, obvious attention-grabbing antics.

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Old 09-24-2013, 04:04 PM
 
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It was hardly just 'she shook her booty in scanty clothing'. The entire performance was built around miming sexually explicit acts in a vulgar, tawdry way devoid of actual talent or originality, and it involved treating Black women like faceless sexual props. It was rightly condemned for being a) racist, b) inappropriate for public exhibition (especially given there were kids in the audience) and c) embarrassingly mediocre.

 

Maybe she was exploring her true 'style', or maybe it was a calculated if horribly misguided move orchestrated by her manager/stylist/choreographer/life coach/accountant. Either way, I'm reminded of Joss Whedon's sage advice: "Be yourself. Unless you suck." If your true self involves treating Black women like objects and faux-masturbating in front of kids, then your true self has serious problems and should be given therapy, not airtime.


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Old 09-24-2013, 04:24 PM
 
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I admit I didn't see the full performance, just clips, so maybe I'm misinformed. I didn't see the racial stuff you mention. But dancing in a risqué manner and even faux-masturbating ... again, I direct you to Madonna's "Like a Virgin" performance in the 80s, which people said similar things about.

Kids in the audience -- you mean like Will Smith's kids, or were there "civilian" kids there? Surely stars like Smith know that every year there's some "shocking" thing that happens at the VMAs, so I guess he was okay taking the chance of his kids seeing something like that.

ETA: Okay, I watched the full performance on YouTube. With the exception of the bit with Miley ... er, motorboating? ... that woman's rear (which was pretty bad), I just see a scantily clad, rather desperate and untalented girl shaking her booty. Her actual moves really aren't even that risqué compared to many past VMA performances, IMO. I'm not saying I enjoyed it, or that I would let my kids watch it, but I just don't think it was The Worst Thing Ever, either.

Also, surely some of the criticism of the creative choices belongs at Robin Thicke's feet too, and not just Miley's?

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Old 09-24-2013, 06:12 PM
 
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Also, surely some of the criticism of the creative choices belongs at Robin Thicke's feet too, and not just Miley's?

Exactly.

 

I also agree with Smokering:

 

"The entire performance was built around miming sexually explicit acts in a vulgar, tawdry way devoid of actual talent or originality, and it involved treating Black women like faceless sexual props. It was rightly condemned for being a) racist, b) inappropriate for public exhibition (especially given there were kids in the audience) and c) embarrassingly mediocre."

 

(sorry, haven't learned to double quote)


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Old 09-24-2013, 06:17 PM
 
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And the tongue! The horrible tongue!

And let me be the first to say, tho not as overt as usual, there were definitely ill*m*nati elements & symbolism.

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Old 09-24-2013, 06:35 PM
 
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I didn't watch all of it, but I found Miley's performance mildly amusing, and the bears really disturbing.  My first impression was that Miley was poking fun at the show. 

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Old 09-24-2013, 07:30 PM
 
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 But dancing in a risqué manner and even faux-masturbating ... again, I direct you to Madonna's "Like a Virgin" performance in the 80s, which people said similar things about.

OK, but... so? I haven't seen Madonna's performance (too young at the time), but if she was being obscene, then it's reasonable people would get upset... and just as reasonable that they'd get upset when Miley was obscene many years later. I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here.

 

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 Kids in the audience -- you mean like Will Smith's kids, or were there "civilian" kids there? Surely stars like Smith know that every year there's some "shocking" thing that happens at the VMAs, so I guess he was okay taking the chance of his kids seeing something like that.

I meant Will Smith's kids - that shot of them all staring in horror has become rather famous. :p It certainly didn't look like they were expecting it - though, I don't watch the VMAs, so maybe their parents were negligent to bring them along if the show is routinely obscene. I don't know if any other kids were in the live audience, but given that One Direction was there getting an award, or whatever it was, she would have known kids would be watching.


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Old 09-24-2013, 07:53 PM
 
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OK, but... so? I haven't seen Madonna's performance (too young at the time), but if she was being obscene, then it's reasonable people would get upset... and just as reasonable that they'd get upset when Miley was obscene many years later. I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here.

I just mean that the element of shock/push the envelope is nothing new at that event. There's always an act that shocks people and has them talking the next day. People were once truly horrified and disgusted by Elvis wiggling his hips. So maybe one day we'll be remembering the innocent time when the worst thing young girls did was thrust at the audience with a foam finger and freak on men nearly twice their age. wink1.gif
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I meant Will Smith's kids - that shot of them all staring in horror has become rather famous. orngtongue.gif It certainly didn't look like they were expecting it - though, I don't watch the VMAs, so maybe their parents were negligent to bring them along if the show is routinely obscene.

I thought I read that the Smith family reaction was to something else and was just shown with the Miley/Robin clip to imply that's what they were shocked about. I don't know for sure though, and I'm too lazy to research that right now.
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I don't know if any other kids were in the live audience, but given that One Direction was there getting an award, or whatever it was, she would have known kids would be watching.

You say "she" would have known, meaning Miley? Again, she performed with Robin Thicke, who presumably knew kids could be watching as well, and who also has some rather disturbing lyrics in that song of his. And who has a good decade and a half on Miley.

I dunno, to me it was just another tasteless, poor performance, nothing more.

ETA: here's a list of the top 10 most shocking VMA performances (many of which have already been mentioned in this thread):

http://metro.co.uk/2013/08/27/top-10-mtv-vma-shocking-performances-miley-cyrus-madonna-britney-spears-and-more-have-all-caused-controversy-at-the-awards-bash-3938998/

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Old 09-24-2013, 08:13 PM
 
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I haven't seen it, but I read about it and honestly, I wish this country started protesting the constant violence instead of overt sexuality.  Just my opinion.  2cents.gif

 

 

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OK, but... so? I haven't seen Madonna's performance (too young at the time), but if she was being obscene, then it's reasonable people would get upset... and just as reasonable that they'd get upset when Miley was obscene many years later. I'm not quite sure what you're getting at here.

 

I meant Will Smith's kids - that shot of them all staring in horror has become rather famous. :p It certainly didn't look like they were expecting it - though, I don't watch the VMAs, so maybe their parents were negligent to bring them along if the show is routinely obscene. I don't know if any other kids were in the live audience, but given that One Direction was there getting an award, or whatever it was, she would have known kids would be watching.

 

From what I read, the Smith kids were making that face at Gaga, not Miley, despite reports to the contrary.

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Old 09-24-2013, 09:00 PM
 
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 From what I read, the Smith kids were making that face at Gaga, not Miley, despite reports to the contrary.

Seems you're right. That's what I get for trusting Pinterest as a news source. :p

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 I haven't seen it, but I read about it and honestly, I wish this country started protesting the constant violence instead of overt sexuality.  Just my opinion. 

Yes and no. It happened publicly and was (IMO) worth protesting about. I'd be worried if people weren't disgusted by the racial and sexual messages of the performance.

 

The USA in particular does seem to be much more prudish about sexuality than violence, so I take your point there. But this wasn't innocent, healthy sexuality, it was exploitative, racially charged  and... weird. And sexuality and violence are intertwined. Treat women like objects, you're more likely to think they owe you sex and resort to violence if the decline to give it to you.

 

I mean, there are always other and bigger issues out there, but it doesn't have to be an either/or thing. It's like saying "I wish people would worry about cruelty to humans instead of cruelty to animals" - they're both problems, and the latter is worth discussion as well as the former.

 

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 You say "she" would have known, meaning Miley? Again, she performed with Robin Thicke, who presumably knew kids could be watching as well, and who also has some rather disturbing lyrics in that song of his. And who has a good decade and a half on Miley.

Fair enough; I focused on Miley because she was the one actually performing the exploitative acts (IIRC - didn't he mostly just stand there?), but yeah, he definitely shares responsibility, and his attitude to women seems generally problematic, from the little I know about him.


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Old 09-24-2013, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I understand how some would obviously be offended by all that. And I can even see how some would find it racially offensive, but I fail to see how a person of her age doing that performance would be considered racIST. Racially insensitive on a grand scale, sure. But that is just the sort of nuance that most 20 year olds don't quite grasp. I have met very few 20 year old extroverts who aren't wrapped up in trying to be bold and loud and a bit edgy. If she genuinely appreciates and enjoys what is commonly referred to as "urban black" pop culture, and she was wanting to emulate those people because she loves their style and sound, then why is that racist? To me, that is just her young and bold way of trying out something that looks awesome to her. If she was quoting philosophers and waxing poetic about how she's so thoroughly explored her motives versus other people's perception of her, it would be a different story. But this is a person who is still in a very spontaneously exploratory phase of life, and doing it very publicly, without much worry about the depth of it all. So her dancers were black, and they weren't explicitly hilighted as the stars of the show. But they willfully participated and seemed to enjoy their roles as supporting characters in a performance of TWO white stars. If anyone could be construed as racist, wouldn't the obvious choice be Robin Thicke, who is considerably older and has been performing soul music longer?

As I stated in my OP, I was totally into the whole black urban pop culture for awhile, and never was I called racist for it. Sure, the racist white people in my suburban area were appalled, but the black friends I hung out with didn't seem to care that I dressed and danced like them or loved their favorite music. They welcomed me into their school group where I was the only white participant staying after school to learn the gospel songs and step routines and performing alongside them at their recital. I was obviously a misfit to many of the other white kids, but the black ones embraced me for my authentic and enthusiastic desire to share their culture and companionship. I don't claim to know Miley or very much about her, but I would guess she is simply acting out her own love for what that subset is doing, and is enthusiastically performing what her current favorite style happens to be. It's not a big deal to me. There's a good chance she'll look back in 5-10 years and feel she looked/acted a bit ridiculous, but WHO DOESN'T look back at their late teens and twenties that way? I know there are a great many kids who don't act out their every whim in such grand gestures, but most extroverts, at least, definitely have some foolish moments in their past. I am looking at this as an extroverted former twenty year old with a couple of apples that probably didn't fall that far from the tree. And I really hope our society can find it in their hearts to go a little easy on them, on Miley, and on the countless others who will be 20 and bold at some point. We are living in a generation where everyone is carrying around a potential porn studio on their pockets (to quote Dan Savage) in the form of smart phones. Most of our kids will be stumbling upon some pretty heavy exhibits via pocket Internet, and I am certain most will try things they will later be less than proud of. I see no reason to continue a culture of shaming and berating young pop stars, when we could all do much better by being forgiving and gently guiding those we can influence toward tolerance and compassion.
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Old 09-24-2013, 10:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also feel like going on a little tangent now. Why don't people publicly bash Justin Timberlake or Bieber or all the other white people making sexy songs and dancing sexy dances that some would consider to be "black" in style? They do plenty of sexually charged dance routines that involve women of various ethnicities being "demeaned" by the very exhibit of faux sex onstage and in videos. Right? And that creepy song by Robin Thicke is definitely an issue all on its own. But it's a hit that many people of all walk are likely mindlessly bopping away with on their commutes with their kids. Miley isn't an entirely innocent victim of managers and songwriters, but she's clearly not a villain among these others. If Miley were a white male rock star singing using flimsy metaphors about women and sex, it would be perfectly acceptable to nearly everyone. Why aren't people bashing 80's hair bands for all their naughty sexed up antics? They certainly helped pave the way for Madonna and GaGa and Miley, right? Without Mötley Crüe and all those types of bands, we would be less likely to see all this stuff so intertwined in the mainstream. The white rockers made it somehow publicly acceptable, and pop culture followed suit.
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Old 09-24-2013, 11:36 PM
 
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I don't think Bieber lacks bashing. :p I don't listen to much music more modern than Peter, Paul and Mary, so I'm ill-qualified to comment on the role of males in sexist/racist music productions... but Bieber is definitely mocked for his whole appropriating-gangster-culture thing, as is Quentin Tarantino (who's not a musician, but y'know... entertainment industry). The prevailing attitude does seem to be more along the lines of "wow, that's pathetic, tryhard" disdain rather than accusations of racism per se, though, which is interesting.

 

As for sexism, isn't that discussion happening all the time? It's hardly a secret that a ton of male musicians write sexist songs. There are billions of blog posts about it.

 

I think Miley's performance is getting a disproportionate amount of discussion not because anyone thinks it's the MOST sexist or racist thing to ever happen, but because it has a lot of memorable elements. There's the contrast between Hannah Montana and her new self, with the tropes of good-girl-gone-bad and former-child-star-gone-off-the-rails. And there's the fact that it was just so horribly bad - a poorly-done trainwreck of a performance. I imagine it was endlessly tweeted and parodied because it was artistically awful (a la Rachel Black's "Friday"), and the sheer exposure made people feel it was worthy of being discussed as racially/sexually awful.


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Old 09-25-2013, 12:34 AM
 
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And there's the fact that it was just so horribly bad - a poorly-done trainwreck of a performance. I imagine it was endlessly tweeted and parodied because it was artistically awful

 

I tend to agree with this. Several days after the VMAs (which we missed, as we were at a cottage on the bay, and not watching any media), dh and I finally saw the performance. I was caught halfway between horror and amusement. I mostly just felt sorry for Miley, as I think she embarrassed herself, and not just because (or even mostly because) of the sexual content. The whole performance was just awful.

On the whole level of sexual behaviour/obscenity, I think Thicke's lyrics are far more offensive than anything Miley did on stage...but, then, I had trouble even taking her performance seriously as a sexual/shocking thing. It was just soooooo bad on every level.


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Old 09-25-2013, 08:57 AM
 
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I can't comment on the racism aspect because I haven't seen the entire performance and I wasn't inclined to watch it. I have seen highlights though.  My first response to the sexualized moves was basically an eye-rolling, shoulder-shrugging, "what can you expect at the MVA's?", along with a kind of pity for a sad, desperate, attention-seeking Miley Cyrus.  

 

Having read the posts here, from people whose opinion I respect, I am wondering about the exploitative and female objectification aspects of the performance. I'd have to watch the entire thing though, and I'm not really interested in doing that because it just looks like a bad, not-entertaining-in-the least performance. 

 

I have to be honest here and admit that my now 17 y.o. white Caucasian-looking DD has been using the twerking move for about a year. I've been surprised that it's suddenly all over the place as something new. I mean, if un-hip, un-trendy me has known about it for a year, how new and hot can it be? Anyway, I rolled my eyes at DD too. I don't like it. I think it's vulgar and unattractive and not in the least sexy or sexually appealing. But teens and their new-fangled dance moves, yk? There were thunderous sermons about the end of civilization when teens were doing the Twist and the Mashed Potato too.  Now she and her friends are not dancing with foam fingers and putting on performances like Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke (at least, as far as I know). I haven't been staying up at night worrying about it. Now I'm wondering a little. 

 

So, if y'all had teen daughters who started using some of Miley's moves like twerking, what would you say/do?  

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Old 09-25-2013, 11:40 AM
 
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I am sure 'twerking' is not new! It is just a new name. I told my SIL: I am sure the first mamas to ever crawl out of the cave figured out a version of Twerking!
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Old 09-25-2013, 12:44 PM
 
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Seems you're right. That's what I get for trusting Pinterest as a news source. :p

Yes and no. It happened publicly and was (IMO) worth protesting about. I'd be worried if people weren't disgusted by the racial and sexual messages of the performance.

 

The USA in particular does seem to be much more prudish about sexuality than violence, so I take your point there. But this wasn't innocent, healthy sexuality, it was exploitative, racially charged  and... weird. And sexuality and violence are intertwined. Treat women like objects, you're more likely to think they owe you sex and resort to violence if the decline to give it to you.

 

I mean, there are always other and bigger issues out there, but it doesn't have to be an either/or thing. It's like saying "I wish people would worry about cruelty to humans instead of cruelty to animals" - they're both problems, and the latter is worth discussion as well as the former.

 

 

I didn't read about anything racially-charged, so I'm responding specifically to the sexuality.  As someone who lives in the U.S., I can tell you there is too little emphasis on the violence in this country. I don't presume to know what life is like in NZ since I don't live there, but from what I read, it seems to be a pretty safe place with a relatively low murder rate.

 

Is sexual exploitation a problem that should be discussed?  Yes, but it needs to be put into context, specifically where an award show performance is concerned.  There were more news outlets discussing this performance than news outlets discussing the crisis in Syria.  That is a problem for me.  So, I say it again, I wish more people were concerned (and protested) the violence in this country.

 

I read an interview where Miley said they basically did this to get people talking.  That is a similar mindset to many who go on shooting sprees using guns that are illegal in most other organized countries.  So, perhaps I should be whining about the media and the gun culture.  :irked

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Old 09-30-2013, 09:36 AM
 
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maybe it was a calculated if horribly misguided move orchestrated by her manager/stylist/choreographer/life coach/accountant.

Let's call them her "handlers".

Below are some of my thoughts, as well as quotes from another forum where I'm a member. This is what I think is happening:

 

"Miley is now working with Britney Spears’ ex-manager Larry Rudolph and signed with RCA records – one of the biggest music labels in the world that owns the likes of Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Ke$ha. She underwent a classic “good girl gone bad” treatment. Once a good, wholesome daddy’s girl, Miley has turned into a bratty, sex freak who keeps sticking out her tongue and twerking for no reason. While most people are probably tsking at Miley, they do not realize that this whole thing coincided with the release of her new album – and that it was all ordered by her handlers. In other words, she was selected  to be this year’s main example of a “good girl gone bad”.

 

Dressed and styled to look like a bratty child, jumping around with giant teddy bears, Miley’s performance was all about getting a negative reaction from the public while continuing the ongoing agenda of sexualizing everything that is related to childhood."

 

Negative attention is still attention, and Miley has been the talk of the town lately! Conveniently, as other important world issues are unfolding, the spotlight is on the deliberately constructed, oversexed caricature known as Miley. Diverting the attention of millions!


 
 
 "Medical propaganda ops are, in the long run, the most dangerous. They appear to be neutral. They wave no political banners. They claim to be science. For these reasons, they can accomplish the goals of overt fascism without arousing suspicion.” — Jon Rappoport
 
 
 
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Old 09-30-2013, 10:05 AM
 
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Best post yet BeckyBird. It would be a huge mistake to assume that this young woman is calling all the shots here: there is a team of adult professionals behind her public persona.
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Old 09-30-2013, 10:54 AM
 
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Actually Miley put on a show to draw attention and she did just that.  What I find interesting is those who are upset about what she did.  Society wants half naked women dancing in their music videos look at the rating of some of the crap out there.  It's an issue for many because while they want that they don't want that from Miley because she was in their living rooms for years on the Disney show.  She really didn't do anything different than anyone else.

 

I'm fine with it and I really do like the kid.  I don't know if she realizes how much she hi lighted the hypocrisies of the industry and of American culture, but I applaud her either way.

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Old 10-06-2013, 06:11 AM
 
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There is a known pattern of the fall from virginal grace for the Disney girls. It must be difficult to maintain that facade and there must be a strong urge to throw their sexuality in people's faces once they free themselves.
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Old 10-06-2013, 08:52 AM
 
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^That really supposes tho that her performance emerged from her soul & that she calls the shots. Actually tho, the whole 'good girl gone bad' thing is a formula as much as Mickey Mouse Club is . . .
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Old 10-06-2013, 10:31 AM
 
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True
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