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If you are reading this you may not have seen the VMA’s last weekend – because you read for pleasure.  As opposed to, say, raising your first finger or twerking to party down.  But don’t feel aged out – I am of the original MTV generation (read: old) and didn’t immediately understand the devolution of human progress that I saw on stage at the video music awards either.  But I Google search like a Millennial and am willing to share my intel.

Twerking is a dance move — in the most generous sense possible — of moving your backside up and down rapidly, with a thrust from the hips giving it a “pop.” But the reason twerking is so discussable is because the move is usually done in a squatting position or while bent over — as if close to someone else’s pelvis, real or imagined. Which leaves absolutely nothing to be imagined.

It’s basically every mother’s worst nightmare alongside a pole, wall, dance floor or person. Unless you are Miley Cyrus’ mom. Then it may just be cause to applaud.

Which is how twerking crossed its tipping point last Sunday night and made it into the mainstream vernacular via Twitter when Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana from The Disney Channel, FKA Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter and soon to be known as either the new Madonna or the next Lindsay Lohan) stole most of the show at the VMAs twerking it and generating more than 300,000 tweets per minute of discussion.

But twerking is not new. It is largely credited to 2 Live Crew in the 1980s, right around the time MTV was born (or Caribbean dancehall music if you want to be precise). It’s been mentioned in song lyrics for decades, including by Beyonce almost 10 years ago. But after Sunday night, when Cyrus twerked everything from Alan Thicke’s son to giant stuffed animals, while simultaneously mimicking Gene Simmons’ tongue moves AND ALSO moving an oversized sports hand under her vinyl underwear (which, by the way, was all she was wearing), the term may have also made its way into an elementary school near you.

Now, I agree with Miley’s dad, who noted that the world would be a better place if we all spread more love and less hate — especially in the media — even if his daughter’s performance inspired me to disconnect my cable TV until my children leave for college.

I don’t wish Miley any ill will. She put on a big show, which was her job. I just wish that she would have had a different kind of message. Like the kind Justin Timberlake displayed at the VMAs, which was the only performance that Miley couldn’t upstage that night. Timberlake (aka JT, FKA the guy from N’Sync and soon to be known as either the next Michael Jackson or the new Prince) was the moon-man incarnate this year. (That’s what the VMA award trophy looks like and JT won four of them this year.)

The VMAs were jokingly being touted as just the backdrop for the much anticipated N’Sync reunion, which did not disappoint and was handled oh-so differently. But where Miley crucified her former image, JT seemed to embrace his own, which just made him more of the guy who brought sexy back (big song of his a couple of years back —really good for actual dancing).

But rather than critique artists’ choices (or pretend to understand the pressure of staying on top when you start your career there and have 50 years ahead of you to try and remain current), I’d rather say that I just felt sad for all women watching the naked, lascivious simulation acts on Sunday.

Because if this is what a beautiful, multi-talented person chose to showcase about herself at the biggest game the music industry has to offer, what does that say to the aspiring choir girl who is the standout in her church? What does it tell the woman who doesn’t sing or dance but who might just want to entertain her husband in a sexy way? Is this where she goes? And if this is the benchmark of sexual prowess in a 20-year-old, what now must the 15-year-old trying to be cool inol be wing to do this week when we have seen Miley do it all?

I wish Miley a long career. But I especially long for her next reinvention.

  1. Nicole on Monday 9, 2013

    I just hope your daughters don’t do this by the time they reach the teen years. If I had a daughter, I would be mortified.

  2. Karen on Monday 9, 2013

    Loved this – I had to google it too! :-)

  3. Dan Mackey on Monday 9, 2013

    I usually find a rock to crawl under when the VMA’s happen every year because to me they seem to be more and more of a perverse circus of performance art and less about music which seems to only play a role as an accompaniment. My rock wasn’t deep enough year as I could not escape some exposure to the Miley Cyrus performance, shenanigans, debacle or whatever you want to call it. Worse yet was hearing one of the afternoon talkies with multiple female hosts making suggestions that this was a stroke of marketing genius and that this was the direction music is going. If that is truly the case, after being a musician on an arcane instrument playing arcane music through the past several decades, it may be time to put all of my saxophones and other music technology up for sale on craigslist… or maybe work out a barter for a big foam finger and twerking lessons (Oh, and vinyl underwear too) … what do you think? Or, maybe I should settle for a bigger or deeper rock to crawl under for next year.

  4. Diane Farr on Monday 9, 2013

    no keep playing your music! just say no to the foam finger…

  5. be a trix on Monday 9, 2013

    This show really upset me. I didn’t see it on the night but after on-line. I”m glad she is getting the backlash she is for it but fear that all attention is good attention to performers. I wonder if she considered how she would feel about this show later in life. so many people speak out about how much they regret their choices in life, especially the very public ones. I think later this will haunt her even if it doesn’t now.

  6. daniel on Monday 9, 2013

    I appreciate you trying not to playa hate. still a little negative but it feels approriate.

  7. nancy on Monday 9, 2013

    Oh you are a mother through and through. Even though my kids are small this bothered me just as much. Everyone fears this for our little girls

  8. H.H. on Monday 9, 2013

    This is the clearest answer I’ve seen yet to why Miley’s performance was so wrong. Thank you Diane

  9. zuzana on Monday 9, 2013

    We need more people to get to the root of what is wrong with television these days. all the images shown to developing minds are impressive – either good or bad. Lawyers spend so much time saying sex is wrong where this was so much more wrong

  10. Kerri C on Monday 9, 2013

    I always love your writing Diane. Great perspective – Kerri C

  11. Jimmy on Monday 9, 2013

    Hey diane – not sure if you will get this but I will try to contact you on twitter also about something at Stonybrook! Jimmy

  12. Rice Cakes on Monday 9, 2013

    you are a wise “mtv generation” lady. And funny!

  13. Alice doesn't live here on Monday 9, 2013

    why was none of this discussed on all the talk shows last week? everyone basically ignored this. thank you for this perspective I found it to be true and important

  14. Diane Farr on Monday 9, 2013

    I think most of the day time talk shows were on Hiatus last week but there was much discussion at night about it. df

  15. Diane Farr on Monday 9, 2013

    hilarious, I just was called old – with the word MTV. nice one.

  16. Melissa Roth on Monday 9, 2013

    Excellent column. I loved the way you compared the reinvention and embracing of past between JT & Miley. I also felt sad and, as someone much older than you, disappointed that we haven’t managed to value talented women in more ways.