There are very few things in our infinitely perverse pop culture scope that have gone untouched by the filthy hands of sexualization. Making that list even shorter is Miley Cyrus, whose performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards managed to through the decidedly innocent concept of children’s plush toys into the effusively creepy mix. Twerking about on the Barclays Center stage with a rendition of “We Can’t Stop”, Miley surrounded herself with an army of dancing teddy bears, draping herself in a rapidly diminishing outfit modeled after the form of a member of Paddington’s noble race.
Joining Miley in her performance was Robin Thicke, interrupting her number with a few bars from “Blurred Lines.”
Although the ordeal was met with a hefty sum of applause from the VMAs audience (in sharp contrast to Lady Gaga’s opening song, which was dealt a good deal of boos and hisses), the Internet erupted immediately after with some sharp criticism of Miley’s wacky milieu. Admonishing her for her sexualized bravado, denouncing any fandom for the young star, protesting the union with Thicke, and simply expressing a perplexed sentiment over her odd choices, Twitter and Facebook were quickly overcome with messages expressing negative feedback about the performance.
But if getting people talking is what Miley set out to do, then call it a victory: it might have been weird, cringe-worthy, embarrassing, or otherwise resulting in a facepalm or two, but Miley’s “We Can’t Stop” performance at the VMAs seemed to have started something.