Justin Timberlake performed for almost 20 minutes at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Wearing a suit and a dapper hat, he covered most of his greatest hits, highlighted a few tracks from his latest album “The 20/20 Experience”, and reunited with his former band N’Sync. He danced, crooned, swaggered, played electric piano, and took over the Barclays Center with his talent, charisma and prowess. His back up dancers were professional, well dressed, talented, and definitely added something to his performance. Every once in a while, the cameras panned to an older couple who were smiling and clapping along with his performance, along with other celebrities who were enjoying JT. When he was finished, Jimmy Fallon presented him with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award for his contribution to the music industry and the art of video making. Justin graciously thanked his parents (the older couple), video directors that he had worked with over the years, and his former N’Sync band members. He was the epitome of class and grace.
Miley Cyrus was the exact opposite. She came out on stage dressed in a furry, one-piece bathing suit with what looked like a drunken teddy bear on it. Her “back-up” dancers were dressed as strange teddy bears as well. I could have gotten past the interesting wardrobe choice, except for the fact that she decided that she was going to act like what I’ll describe as “trashy Miley”. Her body language was awful, she was constantly touching herself or grinding herself up against people on stage (commonly known now as twerking), and it was hard to even remember that she was actually singing a song – as awful as it was.
It gets better. Or worse, depending on your perspective.
For some reason, Robin Thicke agreed to participate in this madness and came on stage singing the song of the summer “Blurred Lines”. Miley rip off her furry outfit to reveal a nude colored vinyl bikini and with a microphone in one hand and a foam finger (kind of like the ones you see at a sporting event) in the other. She gyrated, fake – fingered and licked her way through Robin Thicke’s performance. It was vile. For those of you who remember Madonna’s performance of “Like a Virgin” at the VMA’s in the mid 80s and how it was labeled “shocking and offensive”, Miley made Madonna look like a sunday school chorus performance in comparison. There were no camera shots of her parents, or gracious words of thanks to those that helped her along the way.
So why the comparison between Miley Cyrus and Justin Timberlake? Yes, there is an age different between them (Justin is 32, Miley is just 20). With age does come maturity, I’ll give you that. But I firmly believe that Justin and Miley represent the two paths people take when raising a child in the entertainment industry. One is that of a grounded family that puts their child’s best interest as the priority over money, fame, and their own personal gain. The other uses the child to seek additional fame and fortune for themselves while allowing the child to stop being a child and start being an adult long before they are ready.
Both Miley and Justin were child stars – he on the Mickey Mouse Club, and she on Hannah Montana. They both received a lot of attention and fame early on in their life. And they have both been in the public eye for a very long time.
Justin Timberlake had a solid foundation of parents and management behind him, making sure that he was allowed to shed his teen heart-throb image and move in to adult hood in a constructive way. We didn’t see him acting out, shaving his head, covering himself in tattoos, or participating in questionable behavior. I wasn’t even sure who Justin’s parents were until he acknowledged them in his acceptance speech and the camera panned to them, and I certainly don’t know their names without doing an internet search.
Miley on the other hand has been the money and fame source for two parents that had career ambitions of their own that extended past a one-hit wonder and famous mullet from her father, Billy Ray. Speaking of Billy Ray, wasn’t he cast as the dad on HER show? Weren’t her parents and their marriage drama fodder for the tabloids for quite some time until another train wreck family (can you say Lohan) knocked them out of the spotlight?
Where were Miley’s parents or management personnel last night, telling her that this was NOT how to show the world that you are an adult. All Miley succeeded in doing was proving how totally and completely lost she is in the world, and how much a stable family that guides you, protects you, and has your best interest at heart really does have an influence on the person you become. Degrading yourself as a woman is not liberating or empowering, and it’s not how you prove you are an adult. It’s how you prove that you are troubled, your parents failed you, and you have surrounded yourself with people who are clearly along for the ride and don’t have your best interest at heart.
I hope and pray that someone steps in and saves this girl before she ends up being just another child star with a tragic ending.