When we turned on the VMAs last night to watch as a family, I had a feeling we'd be turning it off soon after. Because, duh, MTV is the worst. And we did. We turned it off moments after Miley walked on stage. Because, duh, MTV is the worst.
And then later, after the kids went down to bed, we turned it back on.
And closed our eyes.
"This is embarrassing."
This morning I logged into twitter, in search for a voice that could help me tap into my own. Then (as one tends to do with twitter) I got sucked in. One post led to another which led to another, open letters to a confused little girl who doesn't get it from women who do.
Because.... we feel we carry within us the life experience from which to speak? Surely we must KNOW Miley because we've watched her grow up, right? We feel responsible. And because we're mothers and it comes with the territory, entitled to speak.
So we do.
We come together with our personalized mugs and shame a twenty-year old. Because it makes us feel better to do so. Because we can sleep easy knowing it was her on that stage and not our insecure former-selves. Because she could be so much better! She could be us, you guys. She could be just like us!
We think we get it and she does not.
We shake our collective heads and slap each other five for feeling the same disappointment. Not over MTV (they get a free pass obvs) but over the little girl lost.
We say and we talk and we tweet and we shame and we talk and talk shit and laugh because we're so much better than she is. Our daughters WOULD NEVER do that, we say, fingers crossed. We are the audience. We are safe in the audience where fools are not made. Except, of course they are.
Because the Miley hate isn't about Miley at all. It's about what we see in the mirror she reflects back at us. Bent over, tongue wagging, sexual selfie times a million. Miley Cyrus is every parent's cautionary tale. What is now sweet and innocent will someday define herself in part by her sexuality. She is the skeleton we all keep bound and gagged in our closet, with our stash of US weekly magazines, and the journals we kept locked with keys when we were her age.
Hers was the dance performed by many of us. In our bedrooms with doors locked. Back in the good ol' days when privacy was a thing and we did our sexy dances with our friends, instead of an audience of strangers.
Our audience was a mirror stained with lipstick.
Perhaps hers is, too.
Miley got up on that stage last night and personified the very product of two decades of hyper-sexualized, self-exploitative, entitlement. Hyperbolic, frenzied, self-serving, practically naked.
Let she who has not twerked in a public forum throw the first stone. Emotionally. Physically. It is all rooted in the same place. We are the exhibitors pointing at the exhibitionist on the other side of the mirrored glass.
"This is embarrassing."
Perhaps this is why, in the same way we all squirmed in our seats, mouth agape, we also couldn't look away.
We knew what we were getting into when we sat down to watch MTV's VMAs last night. And collectively, we are very much aware of why we kept watching.