[This post falls squarely in the “[pop] culture” portion of TFL’s “law, culture, and academia” mandate. Regular programming will resume in due course.]
Hi Gloria. Can I call you Gloria? I understand that you were displeased by the duet performed by your son and Miley Cyrus (as you know, your boy shows up at the 3:00 mark) at the MTV VMA awards Sunday evening.
Specifically, you said:
I was not expecting her to be putting her butt that close to my son. The problem is now I can never unsee it. . . . Him? Loved it! I love that suit, the black and white suit. I don’t understand what Miley Cyrus is trying to do. I just don’t understand. I think she’s misbegotten in this attempt of hers. And I think it was not beneficial.
Gloria, I’m confused about your confusion. I mean, look, the whole obscenity concern trolling thing isn’t my bag. VMA has been doing this for years, and if you wanted to see something else, well, that’s what they have C-SPAN for. But hey, you’re certainly free to know it when you see it. Obscenity, that is.
What I don’t get is why you see it in Cyrus but not in your own son.
To be fair, it’s not just you. All the commenters I’ve seen, from Sean Hannity (“outrageous,” “downright raunchy,” and “inappropriate” for a role model) and Bill O’Reilly (“she’s a troubled young lady” and “out of control”) to Camille Paglia (whose focus is on the philistine rather than the obscene nature of the routine) have reserved their criticism for Cyrus.
A mommy blogger’s open letter to her daughter, warning her not to follow in Cyrus’s footsteps, has gone semi-viral. But not a single Mommy blogger has warned her son against following in your son’s footsteps.
To no one's surprise, Bill O’Reilly blames Cyrus’s twerking on “bad parenting,” and after Miley’s father, country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, defended his daughter, O’Reilly asked whether he should be “shunned.” Even Brooke Shields, who played mom to Cyrus’s Hannah Montana, felt the need to weigh in and demand answers: “I was Hannah Montana’s mother. I do not approve. Where did I go wrong? I just want to know who’s advising her, and why it’s necessary?” (By contrast, Shields remains “shocked” by the controversy over her own performance in the infamous “You wanna know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” ad campaign, which she shot when she was just fifteen years old (Cyrus is twenty), and which was banned by CBS.)
And yet no one blames you, Gloria, for raising a son whose music and videos are—in addition to being just as "obscene" as Cyrus’s (and just as arguably misappropriating of black culture and glorifying of drugs)—kinda rapey. Following the VMA hoopla, Cyrus's father canceled a scheduled interview with Piers Morgan at the last minute. But free from the burden of having to defend your parenting and your child, you can grant media interviews in which you accept the condolences of a shamed nation and join the #MileyGate pile on. It’s all a little reminiscent of Justin Timberlake, whose image was only barely and very temporarily tarnished by the “wardrobe malfunction” of Janet Jackson (remember her?), which he, too, apparently helped orchestrate. I don’t personally care about either Cyrus’s butt or Janet’s nipple, Gloria. But I am annoyed by the double standard involved in criticizing the female but not the male co-venturers in these manufactured controversies—the twerkers but not the twerkees, if you will—which is why I'm writing. (More after the jump.)