All Hail the Miley Shaming

iStock_000016844008XSmallI’m disgusted with myself: for a hot minute I cared what a privileged white girl putting on black face for the world via tongue-out twerking, gigantic teddy bears and an awfully made latex bikini meant for all the “-isms.” I was ready to deconstruct and opine and join the chorus of wagging fingers that judged the character of a young singer that will be just fine among her tens-of-millions. But there are dead babies and mothers in Syria.

In fact, I learned about the gassing of hundreds in Syria through The Onion putting CNN on blast for making Miley the lead story around the world on their website. When parody hits harder than news, we have a problem folks. If you haven’t read The Onion piece, do it now because they Miley-shamed all of us and it’s well deserved.

Who the hell cares about comparing former Disney Channel wunderkind Miley Cyrus to Madonna or if Mika Brzezinski, the co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, is really taking a stand and calling for an MTV boycott because the “performance” was “disgusting” and “pathetic.” This from a woman who can barely get a word in most days on her show despite being a co-host; the real news should have been that Mika actually said something. And that something was about Miley Cyrus? Mika has been at it for two days now and even took her verbal diarrhea to the Today Show this morning. What a waste of a platform.

The real news is that we, the vast majority of Americans, are a privileged bunch that needs shaming.  Yes, we live in a racist, sexist, capitalist country that exploits that vast majority of us with poor wages, refuses to regulate banks for the criminal enterprises that they are and, to a great extent, overlooks the destruction of 20th century progressive gains for women, minorities, labor, immigrants, et al.

We are a nation on life support, yet the collective gasp of horror falls on a 20-something pseudo-masturbating former child star on stage? It’s not What’s the Matter with Kansas; it’s what the fuck is wrong with each and every one of us.

Yesterday, I skipped over the anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, an American hero (one of only five) to receive the Medal of Honor and, yes, those dead people a world away in Syria to think about Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke/MTV brouhaha.

The U.S. is prepared to begin missile strikes against Syria and the Assad regime as early as this Thursday. I wonder about the costs, security, and what this means for a volatile region that I know little about. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t care and that intervention isn’t necessary or that silence about my ignorance is acceptable. Or that bad entertainment stops time.

It’s cruel out there in the world and most of us are busy with cash-strapped wallets, jobs, and far too little time to care about a dictator who decides to gas innocent people to death, let alone our next door neighbors – if we even know their names. And those busy lives and our own problems lead us to dig our heads in the sand, consider screens as friends, and decide that entertainment, if that’s what you can call the Cyrus fiasco, is news.

We are a nation where bullshit talks,  journalism walks and we never saw it coming.

Liz Henry can be found here and is a contributor to the forthcoming anthology, The Myth of the Good Mother. She lives in Atlanta. Tweet her @_LizHenry

Image via iStockphoto

  • Amy McVay Abbott


  • Marti Teitelbaum

    wow! Great piece!

  • Aliza Worthington


  • Lib

    There’s really literally no way I could love this more. As someone who tends to pay WAYYY too much attention to this shit, I kept wondering why I couldn’t muster up the energy to comment on Mileygate. You said it perfectly.

    • Eliza Sher

      Apologies for replying only to your post. I couldn’t find a way to comment on the article without replying to a specific post.

      I disagree with the author about Mika Brzezinski. In fact her comments strike me as misogynous. Ms. Brzezinski is clearly a very smart, competent, and informed person who speaks her mind on a regular basis. In fact, Ms. Henry’s gratuitous put-downs of her detract from the much more important points she makes about the Cyrus performance.

  • Simply awesome – best take on this “fiasco” I’ve read so far. Loved the last line: We are a nation where bullshit talks, journalism walks and we never saw it coming.

  • anthrogirl


  • Alicia

    Yes! Finally! The voice of reason! Thank you!

  • nailed it!

  • mljohnson

    Wow…great thoughts and well written

  • Mary

    Obviously and clearly, the horror in Syria is more significant and of utmost importance. And obviously, of minimal comparative importance is the rantings and attention seeking behaviour of a pathetic Miley Cyrus. Having said that, I must say, “I” care about the behaviour of a mislead and immature singer who is admired and adored by millions of adolescent and impressionable young people. She is setting a nasty example. But yes, of course–it is comparatively unimportant.

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