Miley Cyrus & The Underbelly of Social Media — Or Modern Day Sacrificial Virgins

Miley Cyrus’ 2013 VMA performance reveals the dark underbelly of social media.

A few years ago South Park did an episode called “Briteny’s New Look”. This episode gave me new respect for Matt & Trey (Warning – they get pretty graphic to drive home the point). This episode reveals a societal conspiracy to raise to celebrity and then destroy an innocent girl each year. It is the modern iteration of ancient fertility rituals where the virgin is selected, granted a brief period as a sort of princess – attention, adornment, etc. and then brutally killed in order to ensure the fertility of the next harvest. They draw the comparison that these girls are put through the modern version of the ritual to ensure riches for the next year.

I came across this article on the results of Miley Cyrus’ 2014 VMA performance. VMA’s ratings  were up 66% from last year. Tweet records were broken.  Justin Timberlake, NSYNC, Bruno Mars and other artists in the event saw a huge boost in sales.

You know damn well VMA performances are carefully planned and rehearsed. VMA organizers knew all about this performance. After you watch the South Park episode stop and consider Miley’s performance. While I absolutely acknowledge she had a choice whether or not to do the performance stop and think for a moment of this pattern of young women selling themselves out (with lots of help from the big machine that feeds on publicity).  Read the stats of the results of that performance and think for a moment all the people whose bottom lines benefited significantly because of her performance.

Look at the pattern. What will they be saying about her over the next few days, weeks, years? She’ll be chewed up and tossed aside just like the others before her.

This is the dark underbelly of social media. The VMA organizers, Miley’s organizers, Miley herself are willing and even eager to sell out her dignity for a few tweets because it is all big money. This is social media gone wrong. Where an individual’s reputation & dignity are thrown under the twitter bus so a few people can make a great deal of money.

It works because people participate. When the next award show, “Can you believe she did that?”  happens, (you do notice it’s always a she?) think twice before you tweet, post, comment, spend your money and reward that behavior. Not only of the starlet du jour, but of the handlers who set it up.

This article from the Onion sums up our culpability in this quite well.

One giant fleeting leap forward for VMA rating, tweets  & record sales. One giant leap backwards for womankind.  All of humanity really.

Update: Cringe – This post got about 10x the amount of traffic as compared to my usual posts. So I guess I’m guilty of reaping the rewards of Miley’s twerking too. Though that was not my intent at all. I truly would like to see a healthier ritual for ushering Disney starlets into womanhood.

Photo: Flickr – Renaud Camus