Miley Cyrus: Moral Indignation Is Big Business
At Sunday evening's MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus
acheived new social media highs -- or lows, depending upon your
perspective -- with a racy performance of hit
We Can't Stop
By twerking, committing a near-sexual assault with a foam finger, and sticking out her tongue, Miley, with the help of Robin Thicke, got the Twitsosphere cranking along at 306,100 tweets per minute, surpassing the activity seen during last year's Super Bowl blackout and besting all other VMA acts, including Lady Gaga and a reunited 'N Sync.
The reason this statistic is interesting is because in the
days of old media, it wasn't easy to quantify the impact of major
world events in terms of conversation, in real time.
If a topic is trending on Twitter -- as is #Syria and #ReplaceASongNameWithTwerk (the latter is a reference to Miley) as I write this article -- then people are most definitely talking about it:
But what does it say about us as a society that the big topic in entertainment this week is still young Ms. Cyrus?:
First, we haven't changed much.
We love celebrity train wrecks as much as we always have because they give us an opportunity to get on our moral high horses and use other people's screw-ups to imply our own virtue.
You know, because none of us have ever cheated, gotten high, made an offensive comment, become violent, or had a mental-health breakdown.
Am I defending Miley?
No, and I am not attacking her, either.
What I am trying to emphasize is this: The fact that Miley quickly became the focus of conversation is a great example of the positive side of social media.
On Facebook ( FB ), Twitter, and countless blogs, people expressed their opinions and learned how their peers felt about a news event that perhaps is metaphorical for bigger issues in society, like the supposed hypersexualization of pop culture and glamour of drug use.
People talking to their kids about standards of behavior, and thinking about the appropriateness of various types of media is far more productive than LOLing over the latest meme .
At the end of the day, Miley does come out on top here because attention is currency and sex can be a good marketing weapon, something I'm sure she's aware of as her upcoming album is called Bangerz , which she pushed in this Tweet:
Score one for Miley's marketing team -- even I'm talking about it.
Speaking of Bangerz , Miley is closely tracking sales for everyone:
So while the world is hooting and hollering, Miley is making out -- money-wise.
MTV parent Viacom ( VIA ) is also likely very happy as TV ratings for the VMAs were up 66% year-over-year, and are likely to increase further next year -- because you know Miley's going to be back, and you know we'll all be watching.