Miley Cyrus won the Video of the Year award for “Wrecking Ball” during last night’s VMAs. Which made perfect sense. I never watch music videos and I couldn’t stop watching that one. Sure, the thought of her swinging around naked on a wrecking ball seems so mundane Miley now, but you have to remember that when it debuted last year, we all lost our freaking minds over it. She was naked! On a wrecking ball! For no other reason than she wanted to shock us. And it worked! Consider the entire nation shocked. (Also scarred.)
What didn’t make sense about Miley Cyrus winning that award last night was that she sent up some guy to accept it on her behalf. Even though she was in the audience and fully capable of going up there to collect it herself. As we all know now, the guy turned out to a homeless runaway named Jesse who was there to raise awareness for homeless youth as well as to raise funds for an organization called My Friends Place.
While I’d love to believe that Miley made this decision out of the goodness of her heart, I cannot. It’s a shameless publicity stunt that served its purpose — and that purpose was to shock us. Getting naked and twerking on stage doesn’t quite do it anymore for America, so she had to resort to something even more scandalous than getting naked. And what’s more scandalous for a celebrity than for her to use her moment in the spotlight to highlight a good cause.
Sound familiar? That’s because we’ve seen it before. Remember that time Macklemore, the straightest straighty in music, officiated 33 same-love marriages during the Grammys. And everyone was all like, “thanks for ending homophobia Macklemore!” And he was all modest about it, “aw guys, as a straight dude, this is the least I can do.” And I was like, literally that is the least you can do.
There’s just something about Macklemore, and now Miley, manipulating our emotions under the guise of being a good person that rubs me the wrong way. And before you say that I’m exaggerating by using the word manipulation, look at this GIF. Look at the way she gently dabs her tears as she casually perches to watch Jesse accept her aware, pretending to be unaware of the cameras as well as Katy Perry and Sam Smith’s side eye. Miley is many things, but an actress she is not. (I mean, yes she is technically, but very technically.)
Or look at the prize for donating, a VIP trip to see her perform in Brazil.
“You can support the cause by making a donation here:www.prizeo.com/miley! For every $5 donation, you’ll be entered to win a trip for 2 to Brazil to hang out with me at my show in Rio de Janeiro on Sept 28th. You’ll get the full VIP experience, including 2 of the best seats in the house. #MyFriendsPlace #VMAs2014“
On one hand, it doesn’t matter why people donate to a cause as long as they’re donating. On the other hand, you’re not really creating concerned citizens if people are donating for a sweet prize and not for a cause. On the third hand, I’m a curmudgeon who also dismissed the ALS Ice Bucket as an excuse to make a funny Facebook video, only to feel real stupid when it ended up raising millions upon millions of dollars. So maybe Miley isn’t the worst here. Maybe she’ll actually end up making a difference and I’ll be sitting here in a few weeks feeling like a real a-hole.
After all, she definitely did raise awareness for homeless youth last night. Here I am talking about it right now on a pop culture site. And to her credit, it appears that people are actually donating money to the cause and not just “raising awareness.” But the way she went about it just seemed so much more stunt than cause. Hopefully I’m wrong. Hopefully she’s actually committed to this cause and committed to using her celebrity powers for good. That would be nice of a celebrity to do for a change.
(Lead GIF: Tumblr)