Performances We Love To Hate

by Chas Danner

The fallout from Miley Cyrus’ hathos-intensive VMA performance has reached the Schraders:

Rich Juzwiak tries to put Cyrus’s performance in perspective:

Cyrus’ showing was essentially incorrect—physically, visually, politically. Her entire aesthetic was awkward. But that kind of awkwardness is something our hate-watching, mess-celebrating culture values. Something that Lady Gaga tried to unsuccessfully touch on with her own mess of a performance of “Applause,” which began with canned boos. But Cyrus outperformed Gaga on that front. I can’t remember the last time I saw a pop star throw herself around a stage like that. Watching Cyrus with a simultaneous sense of delight and horror, I thought of the sage words of Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge in the 1998 electronic-music documentary Modulations: “When in doubt make no sense. No sense is good. And nonsense is good.

As far nonsensibility is concerned, no one even came close to touching Cyrus. Sexual coming out is a grand tradition in pop, and I’ve never, ever seen it done like this before. This is one of those awards-show performances that only the Video Music Awards seems to be able to spawn—like Britney’s “Gimme More,” or the Madonna-Britney kiss, or Prince in assless pants. We’ll still be talking about what the fuck was going on with Miley Cyrus last night for decades to come.

Kevin Fallon thinks America relishes the chance to overanalyze events like this:

[S]ometimes a VMA performance is just a VMA performance. We may be a nation clutching our pearls, collectively raising one eyebrow, and asking in hushed whispers over our cubicle walls, “Did you see Miley last night?” but all that means is that we got exactly what we wanted from the VMAs. We want unpredictability. We want provocation. We want Miley Cyrus to stick her face into a large woman’s butt crack because we want to be talking about it the next morning. That’s why we engage in heated debates over whether Miley Cyrus is racist based purely on a overly busy, tacky VMA performance. We look forward to overthinking it. We look forward to feigning outrage.