You know what I think?
I think y'all don't know what to think. Not because you haven't made up your minds, but because you're all wrong.
Miley's VMA performance has been called everything from ballsy to brazen to flaunting her adulthood to silly to weird and so on. There's one word I haven't seen anyone use yet, though: childlike. Very childlike.
Her performance was silly the way your two year old throwing a tantrum in Aisle Two at Publix where ten people are crowding 'round the Ronzoni because whoomp, it's on sale is "silly".
It was weird the way your nine year old trying to talk to you like she's "all grown" while making threats to, I don't know, break all your dishes while you watch, just cuz she can, is "weird".
It was brazen the way your five year old brother cussing at you in front of his little tiny five year old friends is just so damn outré.
It was ballsy the way said little brother clocking you in the head with his baseball bat, then laughing while you fume and yell out in pain, takes big, titanium little-brother "balls".
And I hate to say it, but it was "flaunting her adulthood" the same way your four year old slipping into your high heels and dress, then trying to steal your boyfriend at the front door that she ran to answer herself, is an absolutely genuine and oh-so-shocking "coming-of-age" moment.
What's sad about Miley, and what needs to be said, is she was so sheltered most of her life, denied so many opportunities to do what she wanted because hey, she freakin' felt like it, without having to sandwich it in between business meetings, TV tapings, and concerts, that now that she senses a chance to run for it, to claw her way to freedom, to take a flying leap at her own happiness, she doesn't know how. She really doesn't know how to not act like a child.
She's young, but old enough to behave maturely; certainly old enough to know what the rewards for it are. Yet there she is, mostly naked in the video for We Can't Stop - with human-size teddy bears dotting the backdrop. And there she is onstage with Alan Thicke's son, Robin (who I actually thought was Alan Thicke the first few times I saw the VMA/Miley clips: scary thought) 1) popping out of a teddy bear, 2) dancing with teddy bears, 3) simulating* twerking with teddy bears, and of course The Big One 4) simulating a slightly twerky form of sex with teddy bears. Woooooh.
You know what my takeaway was? That she really likes teddy bears. I got nothing sexual or "grown up" out of it.
Ever listen to the lyrics for We Can't Stop? Self-worshiping 'teenaged person rebels against world, stop world stop - WORLD STOP - mouthy teen on loose!' song with unusually naive and shortsighted lyrics. We can do what we want nah nah nah boo. We don't
take nothing off nobody have to ask our 'rents for change at the convenience store anymore, see, now take that, never-before-seen concept going on here, may I have your attention, please.
Like most teenage rebellion songs it's both bland and ridiculous. Bland because anyone over the age of 20 has also once been...wait for it, no, no, you'll never guess...a teenager!!! Who probably felt much the same way she did about wanting to "break free" or - perish the thought - "wait in line" to "do a line" at least once in their lives, even if they never happened to have the luck to make a fairly lousy song about it that somehow got popular in the UK.
Miley's only getting around to singing this shit now? At 17, 18, 19 years old, I could see it. To be fair, she might've been 18 or 19 when she recorded the song. But to be even fairer, you don't have to release everything you record, and you certainly don't have to film what you record in front of or while coming out of or else while humping on live teddy bears.
It's like this. Industry insiders probably tell her, "OMG, your dad/industry/Hannah Montana iconicness is making you into a freak of nature you need to Break Out and Grow Some Funka Ya Own".
Miley's own internal voice is probably saying, "OMG I didn't date 'til I was 16, my parents run my life, I don't have time to breath between all the films, concerts, albums and live engagements, I make but don't control my own money, and showbiz sucks, why couldn't I just go to sleep every night hugging a teddy bear like every other normal girl out there does instead of sitting in on family conferences about how to best use my cuteness for eternal profit?"
Now that she's "all grown up" she does shit like pose nude, shear her hair into punk spikes and/or a mohawk (can't tell which, but I've seen it called a mullet, which it is not), wears short shorts, and sticks her tongue out while showing her ass and making quasi-Billy Idol faces, all while rappin' 'bout waiting in line to do a line because OMG, no one's ever done that before! Certainly not someone like Hannah Montana! But, wait, maybe this guy did, and a hell of a lot better, too.
But she won't do or say any of it without a childlike motif running through her whole act. Yeah, she's walking the walk, but inside she doesn't even want to talk the talk. You know how in The Shawshank Redemption Red tells Heywood: "These walls are kind of funny. First you hate 'em, then you get used to 'em. Enough time passes, gets so you depend on them. That's institutionalized."?
Think of Miley's showbiz life as the prison, and think of some part of her as forever held back behind the bars of it, so much so that she's afraid to walk out, and has no idea how to act once she does.
She can barely walk the walk - even with Teddy firmly by her side. Or with a teddy bear she's inside. Or with Teddy jealously guarding the front - from the stiff boundaries of her apparently uncrossable shirt.
So what's the fuss about? Clearly the joke is on us.
It's not about how Miley's "all grown up". She isn't. Nor is it about how she's become oh-so-sexual. She's more about parodizing sex acts than showing us any actual sex. If she's either of those things, she's still too young and too sheltered to prove it and chances are, she knows it. She's trying to prove to us that she's not ready, but even when she quite hilariously fails at uh, failing at it, most of us take her at face value. It's a mistake. Don't.
I'll bet Miley thinks you'll take her parody-like lyrics and matching behavior with a grain of salt and can't understand why you don't. I'll bet she's not comfortable with it, either. That's the whole point. She's acting out the very behavior she's terrified of, backing herself up heavily with the Teddy Bear Army to remind us - and herself - that it's a joke, that she would rather not become - even if she is actually becoming - what it is you're seeing in the video or watching onstage or hearing in her words.
She's spoofing herself, plain and simple. Just ask any Care Bear.
*I've *seen* twerking, live, in front of my face, dozens of times, and that's not it.