Media misses the boat on VMA coverage

I would be lying if I said I didn’t watch the Video Music Awards last Sunday. My friends and I all eagerly observed to see the reunion of *NSYNC. Despite the 90-second reunion of maybe the best boyband ever, the once former Disney star, Miley Cyrus, stole headlines with her outrageous performance. 

Miley Cyrus’s twerking routine shocked viewers everywhere. To those uncommon with the term twerking, it is a dance move that involves a person shaking his or her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion. 

The singer performed a medley of her song “We Can’t Stop” with Robin Thicke’s own controversial summer hit “Blurred Lines.” Critics of the song have suggested that its message promotes a rape culture because of the title “Blurred Lines,” and parts of the lyrics such as “I know you want it” which could imply that no does not always mean no. 

During the duo’s performance, Cyrus stripped down to her vinyl bra and underwear and proceeded to twerk on a married Robin Thicke for several uncomfortable seconds. I will admit that I thought the performance was excessive, but my discussion of her actions ended that Sunday night, although CNN decided to continue and make it a top headline for Monday morning.

So that morning, I woke up, turned my laptop on and decided to glance at the top news of the day on CNN, which, for me, is a normal routine. Expecting to find more developments on Syria, the Yosemite fire or turmoil in Egypt, I instead found top headlines along the lines of “Miley Cyrus’s twerking at VMAs” and “Miley Cyrus did what?”

So the question is: Why did CNN put Miley Cyrus ahead of more pressing matters like Syria or Egypt? Is it because Miley Cyrus has a hand in important international affairs? Does her twerking progress the ideas and principles of journalism? No. The answer is ratings. The more views CNN and other news outlets receive, the more money they can demand from advertisers.

Miley Cyrus’s provocative moves at the VMAs is not worthy of a top headline on any news outlet. The issues surrounding her performance just begin at the twerking and skimpy outfit. There were more issues that CNN could have addressed from the VMAs that deserve more attention. 

For example, Robin Thicke’s song and performance were just as disgusting as Miley Cyrus’s actions. Macklemore was allowed to use the word “faggot,” which is commonly used in a derogatory fashion, although the song itself is pro-gay. But they blurred out Miley Cyrus when she said “Molly,” a form of the drug MDMA. It appears that CNN disregarded the double standard by solely focusing on the derogatory exclamations of Miley Cyrus, rather than those of other artists who shared the stage. And what about the man dancing behind her? 

When a celebrity does something controversial, news outlets that should be headlining important stories end up covering an inordinate amount of information of that particular celebrity. CNN is wasting its position as a worldwide leader of news with Miley Cyrus’s performance.

But the timing of this is more than a mere coincidence. Cyrus used the VMAs as a platform to spread her name throughout all media. With a new album approaching, this was an easy way for her to get free publicity regardless if it is good or bad. If the news continues to talk about Miley Cyrus, then she will receive much more exposure which means more opportunities for her new album to be advertised. However, CNN would not put Miley Cyrus as their top headline if they knew it would not grab attention from online readers.

Controversial celebrities have always seemed to catch the audience’s attention. For example, how long has the news been covering the fallout and possible redemption of Lindsay Lohan? Every now and then an article about Michael Jackson’s death will appear on CNN. The reason these celebrity stories receive top headlines is because a large percent of the American public is willing to pay more attention to them ahead of important domestic or foreign affairs.

I would like to conclude with an open letter to CNN:

Dear CNN,

It is time to stop putting stories like “Miley Cyrus did what?” at the top of the news. You put Miley Cyrus at the same place as 9/11. And not only did you put her as a top headline, you went on to include several accompanying articles such as the “The Evolution of Miley Cyrus” and “VMAs best moments.” Do you remember when you were the first cable news network to have 24/7 news coverage of the fall of the Soviet Union? Be the news that is respected around the world and make the principles of journalism proud again. You can do better than twerking.

Besides, the real and only travesty at the VMAs was that *NSYNC was only reunited on stage for just 90 seconds.

Sincerely yours,


Thaddeus is a senior in LAS. He can be reached at [email protected]