In the wake of MTV’s universally-panned decision to feature 20-year-old Miley Cyrus in a cringe-producing sex pantomime with 36-year-old Robin Thicke during the telecast of the MTV Video Music Awards, reporters ought to be sticking microphones in front of producers and executives at MTV and its parent Viacom.
Using what the New York Daily News called “a foam hand as a sexual prop,” Cyrus’s act was characterized this way by Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “That was not funny. That was really, really bad for anybody who is younger and impressionable. And she’s really messed up, so I don’t think they should have put her on stage. They should be ashamed of themselves….”
MTV’s target demographics are teens and pre-teens. So reporters should start with a simple question: Would the producers and executives responsible for Cyrus’s performance have wanted their own teen or pre-teen children (or grandchildren or maybe great-grandchildren in the case of Viacom’s 90-year-old founder and chief executive Sumner Redstone) to have watched the show?
So far, MTV seems unembarrassed, at least officially. As of this writing its website featuring a recap of the Video Music Awards proudly headlines the show this way: “Miley Cyrus Twerks, Gives Robin Thicke Some Tongue At VMAs.” The write-up goes on to call Cyrus’s act a “festival of booty.”
Are the people in charge of the “festival” really that crass?
Beyond Redstone, high on my list of people who should be questioned — even chased down, Mike Wallace style, if necessary — would be MTV president Stephen Friedman. His bio on the MTV website says he “launched mtvU’s Sudan Campaign to fight genocide in Darfur” and that before joining MTV he “served as a Director for the PEN American Center (the international human rights organization).” Seems like a sensitive soul whose thoughts on his programming decision ought to be interesting.