"You could watch that performance from the VMAs and think that it's a hot mess, but it's a strategic hot mess," said Miley Cyrus on last night's MTV special Miley: The Movement. Well, it's about time someone said it.
There are several ways to become rich in the economy of attention. Being virtuosically talented is one, giving the world something it hasn't seen before is another, and being a disaster is yet another one of them. The last method's profitability is reality TV's greatest lesson. It is why people started caring again about Amanda Bynes, who turned out to be a poor, sick girl. Miley Cyrus, being of relatively sound mind (or so it seems), admitting that she trolled people by acting like a mad sex imp all over the Barclays Center's stage is pulling back the curtain on a situation that had to be ambiguous in the moment to get the mass, "WTF?" that Cyrus was angling for. There's a level of honesty here about the methodology of grabbing eyeballs that is uncommon amongst celebrities. It's cheap, sure. But it's also real—and effective.
That is if we believe her. It's much easier to say this stuff after the fact and when you've had a chance to survey reaction. Cyrus went on:
I don't pay attention to the negative. How many times have we seen this play out in pop music? Madonna's done it, Britney's done it, every VMA performance. Anyone that performs, that's what you're looking for. You're wanting to make history. You're always gonna make people talk, you might as well make them talk for, like, two weeks rather than two seconds...We've been laughing about the news because everyone else is so serious. It's great, 'cause I'm sitting here laughing. While you guys are all worked up, and, like, frazzled, I'm chilling. I'm onto the next one. I forgot about the performance. That's so behind now. Yes, I am very comfortable with sexuality. I like pushing the boundaries, but I'm coming out in pigtails looking like a giant adult baby, basically, but doing, like, really naughty stuff. That's obviously funny. If I really wanted to come out and do, like, a raunchy sex show, I wouldn't have been dressed as a damn bear.
Also a good point. The girl can speak well, especially about herself. That's also key for commanding attention in 2013.