Miley Cyrus and the ‘pornification’ of America

John W Whitehead – The Rutherford Institute
“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives. Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms.” – Jessica Bennett, “The Pornification of a Generation” There’s a strange irony to the fact that on the same week of the 93rd anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, a milestone achievement for the women’s suffrage movement which resulted in women finally being able to vote, the headlines are dominated by the antics of pop star Miley Cyrus, who used this year’s MTV Video Music Awards (VMA) as a forum for twerking, gyrating, stripping and other sexually defiant acts. Curiously enough, apart from concerns about Cyrus’ questionable taste in dance moves, no one else seems to find this convergence the least bit jarring or incongruent. Welcome to the pornification of American culture, served up MTV-style.

….One reporter noted that 20-year-old Cyrus’ performance at the Video Music Awards, which started with the former Disney teen idol doing a burlesque routine with oversized teddy bears and ended with her using a foam finger to imitate having sex with herself and the audience, “left Gaga in the dust with her gratuitous show of both skin and gesturing this year.” It’s a sorry coming-of-age declaration from a girl who, for most of her life, has been America’s little darling, the star of Disney’s Hannah Montana and a self-avowed Christian who reportedly wore a purity ring as a testament to her virginity.

…”Pop culture and porn culture have become part of the same seamless continuum,” explains theatre historian and University of Illinois professor Mardia Bishop. “As these images become pervasive in popular culture, they become normalized… and… accepted.” This foray into porn culture – the increasing acceptability and pervasiveness of sexualized imagery in mainstream media – is where pop culture takes a dark turn.