Did Miley Cyrus create a crisis for herself, or guarantee a career?


All the buzz yesterday involved Miley Cyrus’ performance at the Video Music Awards Sunday night. Even the satirists at the Onion weighed in on mainstream media’s hissy fit over the former Disney star channeling her inner Madonna [who she was made up to resemble] via Britney Spears.

As a crisis manager, however, is Ms. Cyrus in trouble? Only if she tries to patent her tongue extension — Michael Jordan may fight her on that one.

Are you kidding me? In a world of breathless “what’s the next hot thing,” where Paris Hilton is again mostly thought of as an overnight in France and the Kardashians are as done as The Three Stooges, Miley Cyrus hit a grand slam.

Did it degrade women? I’ll ask my two daughters when they stop laughing.

Context is so important in this evaluation of crisis or not. First, she’s 20. So all you 40, 50 and 60 year olds clicking your tongues, think twice. When Elvis gyrated and the Beatles’ haircuts inflamed your parents, you loved it. Do you remember their reactions to Sgt. Pepper’s? What’s her audience? Right, not us.

And for all the parental protection groups who castigate TV? Don’t turn it on. OK, so your kids can access it the next morning on thousands of web sites? Of course they can. And, yes, they will. But, honestly, given the extensive smut and degradation available on the internet, this was Judy Garland-ruby slippers-tame in comparison.

So Miley Cyrus wanted to make a statement that she didn’t work for Disney any more. Was it over the top, tasteless, unnecessary? Yes. Did men and women 18-25 love it? Yes again. Did Cyrus’ handlers know it would shock, awe and bankroll her? Yes a third time.

Her tongue-out-of-cheek performance generated 300,000 tweets per minute. She got more tweets than the Super Bowl. Does that demonstrate her demographic? That’s not a crisis, it’s Gagaland. It’s a new Springsteen disc, a new Stones tour, it’s video of Obama dunking over Kobe — combined.

In the summer before 9/11, the rage was sharks attacking swimmers, people dying from bee stings and the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy that was wrongly blamed on Rep. Gary Condit. No one hopes we look back on this frivolous Cyrus news from something even close to 9/11. But the fact is, it’s the week before Labor Day, people, news is slow and Miley seeded a fallow field.

And, finally, why did this shock people? Anyone remember Billy Ray Cyrus’ antics?

This was “Achy Breaky Heart” meets “Let’s Set Tongues to Wagging.”

This isn’t a crisis, it’s a career launch.

Lost in all this Mileymania yesterday was this news: Madonna topped Forbes’ Highest-Earning Celebrities list, raking in $125 million this year. Hmmm.

The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the Northeast and Southeast. Learn more about EMA at http://www.mower.com. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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2 Responses to Did Miley Cyrus create a crisis for herself, or guarantee a career?

  1. Judy Hoffman says:

    So this is yet another case of the Almighty Dollar triumphing over decency. Everything she did is OK because it was a publicity stunt to aid her career? I don’t think so. I admit I am one of the 60- year olds whose tongue is clacking. But I am the grandmother of three impressionable kids who used to watch Miley Cyrus every time they could. She was a role model. I was appalled to see her blatantly sexual gyrations. Are there no standards any more at all? I know I sound old-fashioned to many people, but who is protecting our kids? If adults want to go to a strip club, that’s their prerogative. But to put this kind of “show” on for people who have kids with them, and knowing it will be replayed on the Internet for thousands more to see is, in my mind, deplorable. This was not entertainment. It was smut. She should be ashamed, and I’m sorry you support her in this.

    • Good and fair comments. I wasn’t necessarily justifying her actions [“Was it over the top, tasteless, unnecessary?”] as much as looking at the reality of why it happened. It’s not like this was a spur of the moment decision, or some inflammatory speech after an award was won. But your points are certainly valid. I was trying to put it all in more context. Thanks for taking the time.

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