At least that’s pop star Justin Timberlake’s take on Miley’s sexually explicit dance routine during last week’s MTV Video Music Awardsshow. "I like Miley. I like her a lot. I think, you know, she's young. She's letting everyone know that she's growing up.”
This from the guy whose "growing up" included ripping off the front of Janet Jackson's camisole/bra to reveal her bare boob to millions watching the Super Bowl 2004 half-time show. To those who drive popular culture, does "growing up” (aka, becoming more mature) really mean being naked or simulating sex in front of the world? Evidently so.
In the music world of MTV and all the other branches of industry that make money from it, that kind of behavior also passes for "just entertainment." But parents whose daughters had idolized the young star as Hannah were heart broken. Moms and dads are seeking someone - anyone - in the entertainment world to hold up as role models for their daughters. As Miley stripped down on stage to a nude, skin-tight bikini and endlessly used her hands and other objects to direct attention toward her crotch, she, once again, reminded parents of the selfishness and greed that drives much of the entertainment industry: "It's all about making a buck, our children and their futures be damned."
Miley’s new image is purposeful. Her own mother was stage-side to show her support and her manager declared afterwards, “It could not have gone better.”
And Miley's performance was not much different from what the music industry’s stars, Lady Gaga and Madonna, do on a regular basis.
That’s what makes Miley’s crass, sexualized routine so sad: “Growing up,” at least for today’s youth, is being defined by "role models" as sexual exhibitionism and sexualized behavior. And without parental guidance, many youth are adapting the trend.
The trouble is, dressing that way, behaving that way, doesn't work so well in real life.