Then two days later, this happened:
Typical of the pop culture machine we live in, the buzz immediately shifted. Suddenly, song theft is no longer the issue. It's all Miley. And how disturbed/inappropriate/lewd/desperate/pathetic/appalling her VMA performance was. Even negative publicity is good publicity. That's a no-brainer. This played out exactly how she'd hoped: Three days later we're still talking about Miley. Impressive, given our two-second attention span for everything these days.
But let's be honest, now. How surprised should we really be? Miley's performance has been a long coming, ever since a pig-tailed Britney donned a Catholic school-girl skirt and a belly shirt, and oh-baybeh-baybeh'ed her way across the stage at the 1999 MTV awards. Ripping off a tuxedo to reveal a sparkly nude body suit, dancing suggestively with a live snake and kissing Madonna full on the mouth... it's all been done. When you're a young female star struggling to stay relevant in 2013, how do you get people talking about you the next day, and hopefully the day after that? In other words, how do you out-Britney Britney Spears, the original the princess of shock?
Unfortunately we now know the answer. The boundaries haven't just been moved, they've been violently shoved out of the way. So shouldn't we be examining this a little closer and looking at it little more thoughtfully? Why have we allowed it to get this far? Why does being sexually shocking feel like not just the right path but the only one for many young female stars? Why does a woman, who has already achieved worldwide success for most of her young life, believe that her talent and hard work will not be enough? What does this say about us and the cult of fame we've been suggestively stoking?
This isn't just a fame issue, it's an identity issue about the way we teach women of all ages to value themselves. And since we continue to be consumers in this culture (and like it or not, we all are) it's essential that we start answering some of these questions. Now would be a good time.