Miley Cyrus' VMA Performance: The Definitive Zapruder
Back in 2008, my daughter Judy Anne was ten years old. Like most young girls between the ages of 5 and 12 back in 2008, she was an avid fan of the television show Hannah Montana. Like a BIG fan, to the extent that I would find random Hannah Montana songs in the "Purchased" folder on my iPod every time she would come to visit.
(That's the litmus test right there -- if you like an artist enough to clandestinely use your parents' credit cards and hope they don't notice, you're officially a fan.)
So when the musical lineup for the 2008 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was announced, and Miley Cyrus (the thespian genius behind the single layered brilliance of a Hannah Montana) was announced as one of the headliners, I did what any good dad would do -- I made those flight reservations (my daughter lives in Chicago) and worked my HLSR contacts for some Miley ducats!
Eventually, the rodeo arrived, Judy Anne flew in, and we went to the show. And we had a great time! Man, I'm an awesome dad!, I thought.
In a parenting career that has had its share of great moments, that concert was a beauty.
So I have to ask, what's the statute of limitations on my extra special parenting moment getting ruined by "grown up Miley" going all "porn star/lap dance" at the VMA Awards Sunday night?
Damn you, Cyrus!
In case you missed it (and honestly at this point, if you have the normal sensibilities of the average reader to my posts on this blog, there's like a 1.2 percent chance you've missed it), Miley Cyrus performed at the Video Music Awards on MTV Sunday night, and on the Twitter "Holy shit!" reaction scale, she registered a solid 8.2, and for all the wrong reasons.
Well, all the wrong reasons if you're a parent of a teenage girl who used to use your credit card to download Hannah Montana songs.
I know this performance happened like four days ago, and that four days exceeds our average attention span on any one occurrence and its aftermath by about three days, but I have a feeling that in, say, ten years, if I were taking requests for "Retro Zapruders", this six minute performance would make the cut.
(FULL DISCLOSURE: I was ready to start breaking this thing down about five minutes after it happened Sunday night, but I was buried Sunday and Monday writing the Texans' preview cover story for next week's print issue. It was worth it, I think you're all going to enjoy that preview article, and the artwork both on the cover and in the piece are excellent. Great staff here at HP. That issue drops on September 5.)
So, without further ado, let's do this! Roll tape...
0:02 -- We start the beats with a close up of a massive teddy bear, like 20 feet tall. The teddy bear is wearing horizontal line shades that have a flickering light embedded in them. It's like Teddy Ruxpin and Clifford the Big Red Dog had a baby, and that baby was then abducted by aliens and programmed to angrily take over the world. That's EXACTLY what it is.
0:14 -- The monstrous teddy bear gives birth to a fully grown, possibly drugged Miley Cyrus via a trap door shaped c-section, so we know the bear is actually a female! So for purposes of this VMA performance, let's track this -- Miley's parents are Billy Ray Cyrus and this female alien bear, and her grandparents are Teddy Ruxpin and Clifford the Big Red Dog who somehow managed to conceive together (despite being the same gender and different species). Continuing on...
0:16 -- Miley's mouth then gives birth to a pink snake that appears to be wrapping itself around her face in an attempt to smother her! This is officially the most fucked up family tree of all time!
0:17 -- Oh wait, that pink snake is just Miley's tongue. Never mind. (Of course, this now brings Gene Simmons firmly into the conversation as her father in place of Billy Ray.)
0:24 -- As you may know, Miley Cyrus was named the "Most Beautiful Woman" or some shit by Maxim magazine, which is fine. To each their own, and those subjective lists are generally done with very little science and very few divergent opinions. Whatever.
Now, clearly Miley is seeing this VMA show as some sort of "heat check" on her "Maxim #1" status, what with her leotard (I think that's "Hello, Kitty"'s perverted cousin "Boner Bear" on the front.) and her hairdo, which looks like she was playing some version of strip poker, ran out of clothes, and just started shaving lines into her head as a compromise. Conveniently enough, her hair now forms bear ears!
0:30 -- TWERK IT OUT....TWERK IT OUT....TWERK, TWERK, TWERK IT OUT....
0:31 -- UPDATE: Spellcheck has not caught up to the existence of the word "twerk" yet. It changes it to "tweak" and gives it a red squiggly underscore still. Also, can someone please remake the Beatles' classic so that it's titled "We Can Twerk It Out", for us old guys? Thanks.
0:36 -- Miley sidles to the front of the stage and begins the build up to the body of the song, anticipatory drumbeats pound, and the army of pink teddy bears (all of whom appear to be either sedated or lobotomized) sway and wave to the crowd, like an army of life sized Easter candy all trying to hail a cab.
0:45 -- The first sound to emanate from Miley's mouth is a hellacious shriek of "MAKE SOME NOOOOISE..." I have a feeling by the time this is over, the VMA Awards are going to realize they could have plunked any of about a thousand karaoke singing strippers into this act and nobody would've noticed the difference. And those strippers probably would have done it for a lot less meth than Miley.
0:55 -- If you pause it here, you get the shot of Miley pointing at the crowd with some weird "People's Eyebrow" scowl, and that genoa salami of a tongue hanging out of her face. At this point, you get a better look at the bear on her leotard -- it has the exact same look as Miley. So maybe the bear in that drawing is her biological dad. (So far, if you're keeping track, we have Billy Ray Cyrus, Gene Simmons, and a cartoon bear as "Miley paternity test" candidates.)
0:58 -- The three dancers surrounding her have large teddy bear backpacks on, which means that every kid watching this (aside from being future candidates for some kind of therapy) now want one of those life-sized bear backpacks to go back to school. I would just cover an oil barrell in glue, roll it around in some dog hair, and strap it to my kid's back and say "here you go," but that's just me.
1:06 -- Oh dear. First stripper move of the bit (assuming we are not counting tongue wags as "stripper moves"), the bent over touching of the floor with both hands. I guess we should go ahead and start keeping track, and for every stripper move Miley makes, I'll keep doing a shot of whiskey to help me rationalize the Hannah Montana concert back in 2008.
1:19 -- First actual lyrics sung, for those of you who had "OVER 1:18" on the big board, cash those tickets!
1:22 -- Cut to the crowd with closeups of a few dudes in the audience, and people could not look less interested. This should be the last close up we get of any audience members during Miley's portion of the performance.
1:30 -- The lyric "Might have fun now, might get some now..." is punctuated with a roundhouse right arm "jerking off" gesture. Do we count this as a stripper move? The feigning of the act is definitely not, but the act itself, well, depends on what part of town you hang out in. I'm going to go with "YES," if that's cool with all of you.
So, keeping tabs, STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 2! (DING! noise)
1:32 -- One of the fringe performers, of course wearing a back pack that looks like some sort of hybrid bear/chipmunk creature, is tossing out t-shirts like Miley's performance is a stoppage at a Rockets' game. I wonder if the people there are standing on their seats like my kids do, waving their arms. Oh, HERE! HERE! HEEEEERREE!
1:47 -- We get a clear look at the t-shirt tosser, and it is an ample bottomed female (I think), and Miley decides to sniff her butt as she walks by, which now brings two things into play. Butt sniff...stripper move? I'm going to say "Yes," because there's enough cocaine out there to make me think it's probably happened somewhere during some lap dance. So now...
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 3! (DING!)
Also, this butt sniffing that Miley engages in, it's an act normally reserved for canines, so I think we've all but confirmed that, YES, Clifford the Big Red Dog is indeed part of her lineage. So we got that covered.
1:48 -- By the way, real quick regarding the butt sniff move....um...WHAT THE FUCK. Seriously.
1:50 -- Two slaps on that big booty. Stripper move? Absolutely!
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: Slap...4! (DING!) Slap...5! (DING!)
1:55 -- You know what's fun? Looking at the pink bears swaying in the background and pretending that they aren't costumes, that they are actual flesh and blood creatures, and then pretending that one or two of them pass out on stage in the middle of this act. Try it.
2:13 -- Whatever talent she may have had as a performer as a kid seems to have been replaced with, well, a) stripper moves, b) propensity to sniff butt, c) an endless cocking and pumping of the right arm for emphasis, like we are listening to this song and are like "Ok, this is kinda cool," but then Miley pumps her fist and starts whaling on a phantom speed bag and we should be like "DAAAAAMN, Miley be killin' it!" You can't fool us, Miley. You can't.
2:21 -- Bend over and shaking of her ass cheeks. Stripper move 101, this is like the Stone Cold Stunner of stripper moves.
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 6! (DING!)
2:28 -- "It's our party, we can do what we want toooo..."
Um, yes. Clearly.
2:30 -- Uh oh! Another shot of the crowd and they are literally not moving, not singing, not swaying along like the drugged up pink teddy bears, NOTHING. Honestly, they could be cardboard cutouts of people, I don't know.
2:44 -- Watch the dance routines of the chicks wearing the giant teddy bear backpacks. They're literally making it up as they go along. It's awesome.
2:50 -- One fortunate thing for Miley, I guess...the 25 or so people that are enjoying this as if it's a legitimate musical performance are all next to the runway with their hands raised. Of course, there could very well be a stipulation on those tickets that says "Must raise arms and act like crazed sycophants." We don't know.
2:56 -- Literally, the only two audience members they've shown in the main crowd who are swaying and bopping and singing along? Two chicks with long blonde hair. Can't make that up.
3:05 -- OFF comes the Boner Bear leotard! I would say that actual strippingis most DEFINITELY a stripper move!
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 7! (DING!)
3:08 -- Music changes, and out comes...wait...wait...GOOD GAWD ALMIGHTY! THAT'S ROBIN THICKE'S THEME MUSIC!!
3:09 -- Robin appears to be wearing a 2013 homage to former WWE heel referee-turned-wrestler "Dangerous" Danny Davis!
Damn, if Danny had worn Robin Thicke's outfit, that character might've gotten over back in the day.
3:14 -- Miley has found a number one foam finger somewhere, and I don't know where that foam finger has been, but based on this performance so far, I have a pretty good idea of where it's about to go.
3:16 -- Yep, right down in the crotchial region....Miley is basically foam fingering herself on national television. DEFINITE stripper move...
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 8! (DING!)
3:19 -- By the way, that foam finger is about two more maneuvers away from going in the Celebrity Bodily Fluid and Smell Hall of Fame right next to the Lewinsky's Blue Dress showcase.
3:26 -- Foam finger across Robin Thicke's junk...this is getting too easy....
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 9! (DING!)
3:31 -- Second rub of the foam finger across the Thicke junk...
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 10! (DING!)
3:50 -- Miley hip gyration and foam finger across the crotch...
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 11! (DING!)
3:53 -- And THERE it is, the bend over butt cheek juggle as an ornament around the Thicke junk...the TWERK, the Figure Four Leglock of stripper moves....
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 12! (DING!)
4:00 -- Is now a good time to mention that the offspring of this guy...
...and this guy...
...did this shit?
As Paulie Walnuts would say, that don't compute to me, T...
4:06 -- Mother of....I don't even know what to call that Miley maneuver. She brings the foam finger back around, underneath her crotch so it looks like a big white foam penis and just starts thrusting her hips with an angry look on her face. Weirdest one ever, but I guess...stripper move...
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 13! (DING!)
4:12 -- Nuzzling of Robin Thicke's neck, another stripper move....
STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 14! (DING!)
...and worth asking, has a male performer in a duet (Does this even qualify as a "duet" per se? Doesn't there need to be actual talent displayed?) ever been rendered less relevant than Thicke? He's just a striped prop at this point.
By the way, speaking of male performers, what's funny is that after this mess, Justin Timberlake actually came out and gave one of the greatest awards show performances in recent memory, and it wasn't just one of those comparative things either, like where it felt better than it really was because it followed this train wreck. It was legit great.
It reminded of Michael Jackson performing "Billie Jean" at the 1984 Grammys like five years before he started to go cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. It also made me think "If Justin Timberlake's performance was the Michael Jackson '84 'Billie Jean' of this show, what would the '84 equivalent of that Miley/Thicke pile of turds have been?"
Best I could come up with? Cyndi Lauper grinding on Huey Lewis while singing a "She Bop/I Want A New Drug" medley with a bunch of pink gremlins dancing in the background.
5:48 -- One last glance over at Miley, and....yep, still working the foam digit....
FINAL STRIPPER MOVE COUNT: 15! (DING!)
FINAL PARENTING REGRET COUNT: Infinity
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 Yahoo! Sports Radio from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and nationally on the Yahoo! Sports Radio network Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon CST. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.
Get the Weekly Newsletter
Our weekly feature stories, movie reviews, calendar picks and more - minus the newsprint and sent directly to your inbox.