“Miley Cyrus: Biggest Winner At The VMA’s” wrote Zack O’Malley Greenburg on Forbes.com. He claimed that even though Miley didn’t take home a single VMA on Sunday, she did pick up 100,000 new Instagram subscribers, 50,000 new Facebook likes, and that 300,000 Tweets per minute were flying while she was on stage. All paving way for her new album release, coming in October. He predicts it will be a hit.
Sadly, he’s probably right.
That’s the problem with being outrageous: it works.
Then you have to do something else outrageous. Then something else. Then something else again. It’s a vicious, vicious cycle.
For which MTV and the VMA’s are well known.
Miley Cyrus’ jaw-dropping song was just the latest in a long history of “pushing the envelope” performances at the VMA’s.
MTV debuted in August, 1981; the VMAs in 1984. Here’s what’s happened since:
1984: Madonna writhed all over the floor in a wedding gown singing “Like a Virgin.”
1990: Madonna sang “Vogue” dressed like Marie Antoinette while backup dancers fondled her breasts.
2000: Britney Spears stripped out of a tux to sing, “Oops! I Did it Again.”
2003: The infamous kiss between Madonna, Britney, and Christina Aguilera.
2009: Kanye West interrupted Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech to say he thought Beyoncé should have won instead.
2010: Lady Gaga wore a dress made of raw beef.
So yes, outrageous “plays” at the VMA’s. It gets people talking. It sells songs.
But does it guarantee a lengthy career?
Madonna is the only singer who’s had a long career based on outrageous conduct. She’s survived for 30 years not on singing talent, but on marketing talent and her ability to constantly reinvent herself. Forbes recently named her the Top Earning Celebrity of 2013 ($125 million).
No one else comes close. They just get compared to Madonna.
So what does all of this have to do with you?
Or clothing? Or image?
There’s nothing wrong with reinventing yourself from time to time. In fact, I encourage it. If how you’re dressing isn’t getting you the job, respect, or mate you want, it may be time for a change.
Just be careful what you change into.
Because classy may not be as headline-grabbing as trashy, but it definitely gets better results.
Britney, Christina, Miley – that’s the problem I have with all these former Disney stars. I understand that they want to be seen as women now. I get that they want to distance themselves from their Disney days.
But why do they all think taking off their clothes is the only way to go about it? Why can’t one of them act like a lady? They’ve got millions of fans following them, idolizing them, and what do they do? Pull a bait-and-switch and morph from princess to porn star.
Parents were not amused by Miley’s performance. Blogger Kim Keller said it best in a letter to her daughter:
“If you ever even consider doing something like that, I promise you that I will run up and twerk so you will see how ridiculous twerking looks. I will duct tape your mouth shut so your tongue doesn’t hangout like an overheated hound dog. I will smack any male whom you decide to smash against his pelvis – after I first knock you on your butt for forgetting how a lady acts in public.”
Then blogger Matt Walsh chimed in with a letter to his son condemning Robin Thicke’s behavior:
“…where are the men in all of this? Have we so completely given up on chivalry that we don’t even see what’s troubling about a GROWN ASS MARRIED DUDE singing a song about sexual domination while dry h**ping a young woman on national TV? Men in this culture need to stand up and be leaders. I don’t want to talk about the Miley Cyruses of the world. Enough is said about them. I want to talk about the legions of cowardly, amoral adult men who graduate college and still carry on like frat boys well into their 60’s. The girls that behave like Miley Cyrus do so because they want to attract men. And it works.
Now compare all those terabytes devoted to trashing the bad behavior at the VMAs to this refreshing note about Beyoncé:
Designer Rubin Singer, who recently dressed Beyoncé for a private concert in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, tells Glamour that Beyoncé and Solange Knowles are “the only celebrities that always dry clean and send clothes back in a box, with a hand-written thank you note. They are true ladies.”
See the difference?
Class and manners ALWAYS get noticed, and ladies are welcomed anywhere.
Tramps? Not so much.
Yes, we’ve all had “low rent” moments in our lives when we’ve given into bad behavior. Some of us more than once.
But to make a career out of it? To openly court controversy?
I wouldn’t recommend it.
Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse – they all went down that road with disastrous results. Let’s hope Miley doesn’t.
If you’re not happy with your image, by all means, reinvent it. Just take a page from Beyoncé’s book (she went to finishing school) instead of Miley’s. Your career, social life, kids, and parents will thank you for it.
Diana Pemberton-Sikes is an image consultant and author of Signature Style Blueprint, a video course that teaches women how to create a signature style using their best colors, best features, and best styles. You can learn more here.