When the i came across the hoards of headlines that screamed about Miley Cyrus's recent "pole dancing performance" at the Teen Choice Awards, I--naturally--expected the worst. I had visions of Cyrus bursting out of a gigantic cake in a g-string, glass shoes, and pink pasties before a Justin Timberlake look-alike boogied up from nowhere and snatched them right before the chorus. After which, she'd crawl over to the pole and proceed to swing around it upside down, supporting all 73 lbs of herself with mere inner thigh muscle. Shocked mothers would scramble to cover the eyes of their delicate daughters while adosolent boys would glance down at their crotches and quietly excuse themselves to the nearest restroom.
But, as per usual, the actual performance proved to be a lot more disappointing. Instead of the g-string/pasty combo I'd imagined, she'd opted for a more modest attire of hot pants, low cut top and leather boots. And rather than erupting from a cake, she mostly just stood atop a little ice cream cart with a pole more for holding onto than for swinging around. Her only remotely raunchy move was an awkward dip down maneuver. Not much bumpin' and grindin' or droppin' like its hot, which is understandable: just how down and dirty can you get with gay backup dancers and lyrics like "i know i'm gonna be okay/its a party in the USA" ?
The full-on freak out about it all was a bit baffling to me. Sure, she had to have known that anything involving short shorts and a pole at event for teens would spark criticism (especially after that whole Vanity Fair hooplah) but the reaction was certainly more of an overreaction.
Most of the noise came from parents who were outraged at the idea of the squeaky clean, All-American role model following the likes of Britney, Christina and Lindsey's Good Girls Gone Bad spiral. That the last Disney darling yet without a drinking problem, sex tape, or tendency to exit limos commando style, will join the ranks of Tinsel Town's trashiest tramps. Disney too,is begging Cyrus to tone it down; doomed for big profit loss unless they can create some sort of Hannah Montana Play Pole that sells faster than the lunch boxes.
Because, let's face it, good ol' middle-class America just wants to see teenage gals as rosy-cheeked virgins with bonnets, and butter churns. Conversely, mainstream America would rather see jailbait as hypersexualized and seductive; all tits and ass and the scraps of fabric that all but cover them...
I don't think the media is really shocked by the dance or offended by the outfit ,but more angry at Miley's inability to be either the madonna or the whore. They don't like that she's hanging on the fence between Naughty and Nice, sexual and asexual, middle and mainstream, without picking any sides. Just like the Britneys, Christinas and Lindseys before her, she is eventually doomed to being either the Saint or the Slut. And she's got to check one or the other. Not all that apply.