What’s Sex Got to do with…the VMAs?


You know that song that played CONSTANTLY last summer? “Blurred Lines”? By that guy who dressed like Jack Skellington at the VMAs? Have you ever stopped to listen to the lyrics? Thinking about the title of the song, what lines exactly are being blurred? To be discussed in class on Friday…

…along with these clips:

(Cyrus-Thicke VMA performance, 2013)

(Cyrus on The Ellen Show, 2013)

6 thoughts on “What’s Sex Got to do with…the VMAs?

  1. As Miley points out in her interview with Ellen, there’s a double standard that exists within the realm of Miley and Robin Thicke’s VMA performance. Although I do agree with Miley’s stand point that she shouldn’t be the only criticized for her performance and that, in fact, “the man behind the booty” should also be receiving criticism as well, I do not blame the general public for finding faults within Miley’s actions. The reason for this is because Miley Cyrus has openly come out as a feminist, so when taking a closer look at the lyrics behind Blurred Lines, Miley’s actions definitely speak louder than words. It’s great that Miley has come out as a feminist, especially when she has been an important figure in an industry that is prone to the objectification of women. It’s great that she speaks up about self empowerment through music. But at the same time, she’s perpetuating rape culture by promoting Thicke’s Blurred Lines. She’s taken two steps forward but also three steps back.
    Also, even more recent than Miley’s role in the VMA’s last year is Beyonce’s role in this year’s VMA’s. As opposed to the general public’s perception on Miley’s outspokenness on feminism, Beyonce has been lauded for her role as a feminist. I assume this is because Miley has taken a more aggressive, “bitchy” approach, meanwhile, Beyonce has taken a more feminine, dainty approach to feminism. In no way am I attempting to define how feminism should be embraced by important female figures, as shown by Miley Cyrus and Beyonce, but I find it quite odd that Beyonce has not nearly been criticized as much as Miley Cyrus for her ‘Drunk In Love’ Grammys performance, in which Beyonce states “Now eat the cake, Anna Mae”, a reference to Tina Turner’s biopic in a moment of domestic abuse. Although subtle, this reference should not be something that should be swept under the rug. As an active feminist who has even displayed the words “FEMINIST” in her most recent VMA performance, Beyonce should be more careful about some of the lyrics she sings. Active feminism has become more prevalent in the music industry, as seen by Miley Cyrus and Beyonce. However, as feminism expands in this industry, I think it is important that feminists in this field be careful not to promote ideas that are contrary to their beliefs because they will only make their arguments futile.

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  2. I admit that I was shocked by this very different version of Miley Cyrus. Having gone from a character in a Disney show to a woman embracing her sexuality and adulthood, the transformation was shocking. But part of me believes that was the point. People were still looking at her as if she were a child who was just “misbehaving” as some have put it. I think this was a way for her to say that she was finished with childish things and that, as woman, she has rights to be sexual just as men do. Utilizing the eclectic mix of teddy bears and what I assume was high school football paraphernalia in her backdrop which she sharply juxtaposed with a blatant display of sexuality both in the music choice as well as her intriguing dance moves, she was making a statement. This was here breaking away from the childhood star and coming into her own while also speaking, in her own way, for women to blatantly express their desires and sexuality.

    It is very similar to what Madonna did at the 1984 VMA’s with “Like a Virgin.” http://youtu.be/SXPMLTmpPpY
    She wore a wedding dress in her video, but ended up stripping down some and essentially humping the stage. Artists been doing this type of act for a long time as a way of “coming out” into their adult careers. People were appalled, not because of what she did, but because of who they perceived she should be. She’s an adult, no different that Lady GaGa with her interesting wardrobe change from dressed somewhat like a white nun to a tight body suit to mermaid chic in a thong. Nobody batted an eyelash at here nudity or sexually explicit butt-slapping. http://youtu.be/530Xz86Bntk I believe the difference lies not in what we find acceptable or unacceptable, but for whom certain things are acceptable or not. Clearly young children should not be doing such sexually explicit things, but Miley is not a child now is she? She’s an adult woman who can “do what she want(s) to.” She just happens to be a woman in the public eye in a transitional period from child to adult. If we saw a man doing what she did, would people have had the same reaction? I think not. I never hear people criticizing Robin Thicke. In her Ellen interview, it is said that is because they might believe he was unaware of what she would do. As if! In fact, she even tried to bring up how there was a clear double standard between men and women where sexuality is concerned.

    For what it’s worth, I think she did a good job if her goal was to make people see her differently. Her interesting choice of choreography created a lot of buzz and it shot her record sales through the roof. It also clearly separated her from that child actress who she was into the adult woman who wanted to express her sexuality (albeit in a non-traditional way). Regardless of if you agree with her method, you have to respect the results.

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  3. I was, as well, shocked at the first sight of Miley during this performance. Not necessarily because it was just that taboo, but because of how quickly her image seemed to have changed. It seemed like one second she was Hannah Montana trying to figure her way out of sticky situations with her 14 year olds pals via song, and suddenly she was half naked twerking on this man who has a wife and kids and a pretty promiscuous song out. Whether this performance was right or wrong or crossed too many lines, I don’t know. And also I don’t think is the most relevant question. I think that the question that can and should be raised about these kinds of forward displays of creativity and expression focuses on the changing norms and standards in society. What kinds of lines and boundaries are being pushed, and to what extent will people conform their thoughts and perceptions of what is normal in a public setting?

    I also think that tons of other questions can be raised form this scenario as well. If someone else would have performed like that besides Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus, would the general public would have reacted in a similar manner? If they were both single and had intentions of getting together, would this be considered more okay? If Miley were older or younger, would people think differently of her? If Robin Thicke did not have a wife and children, would people look at him in a different light? I think that this performance was kind of under weird and unexpected circumstances, so different questions can be raised as different sets of circumstances are considered.

    I think what intrigued and puzzled me most is when Miley talked about her fascination with “adult babies” in the interview with Ellen DeGeneres. I just think that’s straight up strange. So, I’m not sure what’s up with that phenomenon of becoming blatantly immature, but it’s weird to me. And then that baby idea plus the sexual component is just a weird combo. But Miley can do Miley, she’s still dope.

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  4. Watching that performance in conjunction with Beyonce’s recent performance has made my IQ drop a few points. I will now watch Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” at this year’s VMA in order to restore my faith in music.

    But on a serious note, Blurred Lines, when it first came out was nothing should of contagious. Many times I found myself tapping my foot to its beat as well as singing along without ever examining the blurred aspects/implications of the song’s lyrics. It is very provocative and certainly puts people in the mood to have a good time. I never actually paid attention to the fact that the song always emphasize a ‘good girl’. If it was Nikki Minaj then I, you, your grandma, and my high school janitor, Terrence would not have cared at all. But somehow a good girl, something Hannah Montana, Miley’s former self, was the explicit subject of this song. Interestingly, the lead model of the music video, Emily Ratajkowski, was also a feature on Disney’s iCarly. Wow, I am seeing a continuing trend here.

    Now with this good girl, the song states, “I know you want it”. In a way, it implies that whatever transpires later in the night is not solely the man’s desire. Somehow the good girl inside is just as bad, promiscuity is absolutely on an all-time high.

    You know this Sam Smith playlist is really, really good. It is music. No, seriously think about it, if you listen to his voice, see how the VMA crowd gave him a standing ovation, you cannot deny the brilliance of his work. On a certain level it is more than just the melody and harmony, but something about Sam Smith, himself that is conveyed through his song. Within the same vein, is a song like Blurred Lines/Miley’s skinny ass a vehicle of some artistic expression? I don’t buy it. I mean “Stay With Me” was based on Sam’s experience with another man. Somehow, me, a straight guy prefers his album over a song like Blurred Lines.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_YTba7LV3s < Reaction to Beyonce

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPx0dsXusqs < Sam – slower version – youtube copyright

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  5. What is feminism? In simple terms, I think it is a movement that encourages gender equality. It aims to create an environment where people are neither treated differently nor face judgment because of their sex. One’s gender identity is shaped by society’s expectations and stereotypes; people’s life experiences influence the formation of their sexual identity, and this in turn will impact their place in society. Gender identity affects how a person acts in society, leads his or her life, and behaves sexually. It is in reference to this gender identity that the feminist movement works to minimize sex stereotypes.

    After watching Miley Cyrus perform with Robin Thicke in the MTV Video Music Awards, I began to question Miley’s feminist stance. It seemed she was using her sexuality to gain power in the music industry. While appearing defiant in her stance towards female sexuality, she actually was conforming to the negative female stereotypes that involve the perception of women as sexual objects. Her performance fosters the view of women as beings whose ultimate role is to fulfill the sexual needs of men. Miley’s performance almost makes it harder to overcome the negative gender stereotypes that are present in today’s society. Her promiscuous dance reinforces society’s demeaning misconception about women. She is feeding into the gender stereotypes that feminists are fighting against.

    I don’t think Ms. Cyrus is a true feminist because her actions are not conducive to creating positive change in a society that promotes equality. Miley is a role model for developing girls, and she should have used her power in a more progressive way. For instance, she could focus on the lyrics of her music and write songs with powerful empowering messages for young women rather than sexualize her performances to gain popularity.

    Miley said in her interview with Ellen DeGeneres that Robin Thicke did not face nearly as much criticism as she did, and that there is a “double standard” in today’s society. Aware of this double standard, she should have tried to fight it in her performance. An equally outrageous reaction could have been produced if she included scenarios in her choreography where women displace men and take over the stage. Unfortunately, she seemed proud of her performance as a defiant sex object and did not regret her actions. After all, her music career took off because of the negative criticism she received.

    With these arguments in mind, we should ponder the following questions. Why is it acceptable for men to be promiscuous but not women? Was Miley intentionally acting this way to garner attention? If so, did she do so to overcome her good girl Disney reputation? Could she have advanced her career in a way that supports her feminist values?

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