The Miley Cyrus Controversy: The Real Story

robin-thicke-miley-cyrusNow that the furor over Miley Cyrus’s performance at the VMAs and her costume, or lack of it, on Wrecking Ball has subsided, I figured it was time to write about her controversial performance with Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Yep, Miley shocked and awed the known universe when she took to the stage dressed in a latex bra and thong to perform Blurred Lines with Thicke.  With body shaking and tongue wagging, the former pride of Disney gyrated while wearing a large foam hand that she continued pointing at what many consider unmentionable body parts.

That was followed by  her new video to her song  Wrecking Ball which consists of a close-up on her face with a lone tear rolling down her cheek followed by our intrepid heroine riding naked atop a wrecking ball as it smashes up a concrete room.  She then crawls semi-nude through the rubble and (understandably) licks a sledgehammer.

Both the performance and the video were greeted with horror, shock and self righteous indignation.  Others valiantly came to her rescue defending her performance and her video, her defenders protesting as loudly and vociferously as those who were condemning her.

But wasn’t that the point?  Wouldn’t the Miley camp have been devastated if the performance and video had been met with a shrug, or a nod and a wink?  Where would they have been without the indignant storm that followed, which was in turn followed by those running to her defense?  With a page torn from marketing 101, the play was set, the players played their part and Miley Cyrus ended up with more PR and media coverage than the pending budget ceiling crisis could ever dream of (if indeed a budget ceiling crisis could dream).

In sports there are some plays that have been used for so many years and are so glaringly obvious that it seems utterly impossible that they’d ever work again, yet they do.  Likewise, this PR scenario has been played so many times that it’s amazing it’s still so damn effective.  But it is and it will continue to be so.  From Elvis, the Doors and the Stones to Bowie, Madonna and Lady Gaga, the shock approach has proven to be a tried and true approach in the music business.  It remarkably seems new and shocking each time it plays out, which is why it’s so effective.

When the Rolling Stones performed Let’s Spend the Night Together on The Ed Sullivan Show (Google it) Sullivan reportedly told Jagger, “Either the song goes or you go”. The Stones agreed to substitute the words “let’s spend some time together” in place of “let’s spend the night together”.  Jagger’s facial expressions made it obvious what he thought of the changes.  The way the story goes, following their performance the Stones returned on stage dressed up in Nazi uniforms with swastikas. Sullivan angrily ordered them to change, at which point the Stones simply left.   Sullivan then announced that the Stones would be banned from the show – and the Stones ended up with worldwide media coverage.

So, the real story about the Miley Cyrus controversy:

Miley’s camp dug up one of the oldest ploys in rock & roll.

They tried it.

It worked.

Copyright © Anthony Mora Communications 2013

Schumann, Rebecca. “Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke perform “Blurred Lines” during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards in New York Sunday.” International Business Times.  26 Aug 2013. 17 Sept 2013. <;

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