Kathleen Parker: Miley Cyrus' mandate: Return to prudery

BY KATHLEEN PARKER Published: August 29, 2013
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If opinions differ on Miley Cyrus' raunchy performance during MTV's recent Video Music Awards, on one thing we all can agree: Miley loves her tongue.

Throughout her lively exhibition, the 20-year-old former Disney starlet and erstwhile Hannah Montana was busy extending her gustatory hydrostat. It is a healthy tongue, indeed, and as tongues go, Cyrus is justified in being proud of hers.

She is also, apparently, proud of the results of her successful passage through puberty, which she felt compelled to share. Highlights of her nearly X-rated performance can be found easily enough. Readers of op-ed pages don't sign up for such descriptions when they seek opinion so I will spare the details except to mention that she was dressed in her undies and employed a foam finger with which to stimulate her performance partner, singer Robin Thicke.

“That was dope,” Thicke tweeted afterward, which ostensibly was intended as an expression of praise rather than commentary on his “dance” partner. Apparently, Thicke's wife, actress Paula Patton, was also fine with the performance.

So who are we to protest? Who are we not to?

By far the best commentary — in the picture-worth-a-thousand-words category — was Rihanna's blank stare. Maybe she was thinking about her next dental appointment, but her expression of utter ennui spoke for me and doubtless others.

The usual critiques have included mockery of the right wing, which apparently includes anyone who cares about the culture we're providing our children. But other commentary makes one hopeful that we may be experiencing a broader desire for greater decorum. Call it postmodern prudery.

This is possibly a false hope, I concede, but there's some basis for imagining that the pendulum might find its way back toward civilization's center. Even by the dubious standards of MTV, Cyrus' performance was widely considered over the top.

This is not the first offensive display — and probably not even the worst. I pretend to no authority but have seen enough to know that MTV videos often resemble soft-porn mini-movies. Children marinating in a culture of online porn, sexting, rainbow parties and worse have little experience with other ways of relating emotionally.

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