I have to admit they won this time. Three months ago I had no idea who Miley Cyrus was, and never heard any of her songs. Today, I’m still not sure that I heard any of her songs (not that I know of at least), but I can definitely recognize her face on magazines near the cashier when I’m out shopping for groceries.
Three months ago, there was no single magazine with Miley’s face on it. Today, out of about 10 gossip/women’s magazines near the cashier, at least one of them will have Miley Cyrus on its cover.
What changed is the surprisingly sexual appearance on the VMA in August 2013. Carefully crafted by the PR people in Miley’s production company, the show brought the buzz it was supposed to. Miley Cyrus’s twerking was the main story in CNN, on the same day that chemical weapons were reported to be found in Syria.
It is all a vicious cycle. CNN makes money on ads, so they optimize the top stories to what people want – what people actually click on. People choose to click on the Miley Cyrus article and not on the Syria article. After all, twerking is much more interesting than people being gassed to death in the Middle East.
The same incentives that control article placement on CNN control the actions of music producers – since the main revenue source for the producers is ads displayed before music videos. After Miley Cyrus topped CNN, many readers flocked to YouTube to search for Miley related videos, and became an audience for millions of ads. Each time an ad was displayed, Miley’s producers made money.
Miley is just another a money making product, and she’s probably not aware of it. I can’t honestly say I would’ve acted otherwise if I was her. Sexual admiration is for sure intoxicating and pleasurable in the short run. In the long run it creates dependence, trying to constantly re-live the glamour powered by more and more outrageous performances, provocative clothing, cosmetic surgery, etc.
Miley is a tool in the hands of capitalist producers. By adhering to our most primal instincts, such as sex, violence, and domination – the entertainment industry creates more demand and gets us used to receive these stimuli everywhere.
But we can’t blame the producers. We can’t blame capitalism. Corporations are here to maximize earnings, not to think of the damage they are doing to our “precious souls”. We have the responsibility. We have to choose what content we expose ourselves to. We are the ones that have to fight the urge to click on the Miley Cyrus article on CNN, and resist the urge to watch Miley Cyrus videos after reading the news. We can’t change them.