It’s her party, she can twerk if she wants to

Kate Marinkovich, Author

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In the words of the infamous Billy Ray Stewart (Miley Cyrus’ TV father, and real father) , “Sweet niblets!” is what I have to say.

On Sunday night, jaws dropped as Miley Cyrus twerked her way to the top of the headlines with a performance at Music Television’s Video Music Awards so shockingly provocative it put Amanda Bynes’ Twitter rampages to shame.

Four days later the headlines are still buzzing and I’m sure the majority of you are still buzzing as well. I know I am.

Many of you may feel outraged, perhaps disgusted, maybe humored. You all thought you were tuning in to an awards show freckled with musical performances by artists you adore, but instead were given an image Robin Thicke’s mom described as something she can’t “unsee.”

For over two years now, Cyrus has made headlines as she transformed from wholesome Hannah Montana on Disney Channel to a provocative young pop star. Drugs, alcohol, sex–all of the above–have been associated with her public life, but no headline she has ever made has reached the same level of intensity as this one has.

The question now arises: Did she finally take it too far?

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

If anyone knows me they know I have always been a big fan of Cyrus. I can still recite dialogue from the entire Hannah Montana episode “Achy Jakey Heart,” do the Hoedown Throwdown and recite the lyrics to all her songs. So, when Miley embarked on her dramatic transformation from good girl to wannabe sex icon, I supported her. She was 19, it made sense. She was not doing anything necessarily inappropriate, she was doing what every other teenager in America was doing: trying new things and finding herself. Unlike us, because she was in the spotlight there was a negative connotation around every move she made.

When Cyrus finally “found” herself (the 90’s clothing-clad, blinged out, sexed-up version), I thought to myself, Why not? If she’s going to own it, she’s going to work it, and she did. Anyone could vouch that she is very much committed to her current image. Sure, she continuously sparked controversy with her baring outfits and indecent language, but it never brought about enough debate to ignite the emotions that are coming up now.

So the answer is yes. Cyrus finally took it too far. Here’s why:

Let’s answer this question: If it had been Britney Spears instead of Cyrus, would there have been as many complaints?

The answer is no, as it would have been nothing out of the ordinary. The controversy surrounding Cyrus’ performance is not so much the performance itself, but the fact that is was by a former child star who had prided herself with her good girl image and had been a role model to young girls across the country.

Performances like Cyrus’ are not abnormal. They have been done before again and again all justified by the classic notion that sex sells. If it had been practically anyone but her, the controversy surrounding the performance would have been far smaller. But despite the fact that a majority of Cyrus’ fans have aged with her, there are still the few that view her as the same Hannah Montana we all know and love.

But as much as Cyrus’ performance was a million steps too far, it was not at all surprising. Mostly because it exactly follows Cyrus’ already increasing trend of shameless behavior, but more significantly, performances like this are rooted in VMA history.

For decades the VMA’s have prided themselves in being outrageously provocative. In 2003 Britney Spears and Madonna famously locked lips; in 2009, Kanye West stage-bombed Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech of Video of the Year by rudely claiming Swift’s video inferior to Beyonce’s; and in 2011 Beyonce ignited mass excitement with the announcement of her pregnancy. For the time and place of the performance, it definitely was not surprising. In fact, it could almost have been expected.

So to all those up in arms about Cyrus’ performance, your opinions are mostly justified, but remember that when you combine Cyrus and the VMA’s, you should know what you are getting yourself into.

As for preventing future Cyrus escapades, there’s not much we can do. After all, she’s just being Miley.