Never Confuse Spectacle and Controversy With Talent

Never Confuse Spectacle and Controversy With
Chris Cash

We’d all be better off by ignoring the calculated marketing efforts of creatively bankrupt celebs

Miley Cyrus is laughing all the way to the bank.

Did you catch the audience in her VMA Awards clip? Not the automatons dancing and screaming around the stage like this is their last night to live, but those in the seats behind? You’d think they were at an anthropology lecture.

Which in effect they were. What we’ve got here is a 20-year-old so creatively bankrupt that she’s looking back instead of forward, breaking no rules or taboos but just replicating poorly what has happened before, with Madonna kissing Britney and Prince appearing in assless pants … all to stir up those who don’t watch so this evanescent turkey of an event will have legs.

But those in attendance are not buying it. They’re so bored that they’re looking at their cell phones. They’re not jumping for joy, they aren’t even leaving their seats, because what you’ve got here is a made-for-TV moment that doesn’t work live, unlike the best of music, and they just don’t care.

And you wonder why we live in a culturally bankrupt society.

It’s a performance with no socially redeeming value; it’s meaningless. And if you’ve got your knickers in a twist about Miley Cyrus cavorting on stage at the VMAs, you must live a cloistered little life and be afraid of your own shadow. Miley wasn’t twerking so much as she was tweaking an establishment that has made her the star of the week even though her talent is so limited it could fit inside a thimble.

So MTV gets what it wanted. An outlet so musically bankrupt that it gives One Direction the Song of the Summer Moon Man gets to look all dangerous and cutting edge when nothing of the sort is true.

And Miley Cyrus gets to extend her television fame just a bit longer. And Robin Thicke shows he’s the tool of the system we always believed him to be.

As for the bloviators, who is giving these people ink? Who cares what these parental organizations have to say. They’re tiny in size and minuscule in impact. But reporters without brains print their words because they believe fake controversy sells papers/Web ads.

Hell, most kids didn’t even watch this travesty, this marketing extravaganza.

But we’ve got parents worried setting parental controls, worried about what little Adam and Brooke might see, when the truth is they’re exposed to all of it, and all the stuff that bugs their parents doesn’t even merit a shrug from them. Nudity, violence, sex: It’s available online 24/7.

But put it on a lame cable channel and trump it up with media repetition and we’ve got a fake controversy whose only effect will be to make little boys and girls at home believe that they too can test limits on TV for big bucks with little talent.

Then again, what would you rather do, watch this lame clip or get a sext from your junior high school classmate via Snapchat, something that disappears before your Facebooking parents have even heard of the service?

We live in a puritanical society that is offended over irrelevancies. Did you know women go to the beach topless in Europe! Where arethe editorials? Where’s the offense?

The most offensive thing here is people of little talent getting so much attention.

But they wouldn’t get it if everybody wasn’t complicit.

Truly want to change the world? Then move right along, pay no attention, especially in this Internet age where whatever transpired will evaporate in a matter of hours.

Let’s ignore Miley Cyrus. Let’s ignore Kim Kardashian. If we stop paying attention to these no-talents, true talents will have a better chance of emerging.

But that’s not how we like it in America. The poor are embroiled in fake controversies and the corporations get richer. Yup, as much as Miley Cyrus benefited from her VMA appearance, it’s MTV that truly triumphed. Imagine what they’re going to charge for ads at next year’s charade!

Read more Bob Lefsetz columns at

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    1. This is one of the most poorly written pieces I have seen, in Variety or any other supposedly “legitimate” publication in many years. One sentence paragraphs? Using the word “bankrupt” over and over again? Has no one told the author what a thesaurus is? For an article that hems and haws about “creative bankruptcy” and lack of talent, you’d think the author would at least spellcheck it. Can anyone with a Twitter account be a published writer these days? I didn’t care about the Miley Cyrus debacle before reading this, but now I somehow care even less. Shame on your editors for rewarding such technically flawed, uninspired, lazy writing.

      • Ah – attack the writer…that old ploy.

        Julianna M probably has a vested interest to launch an assault on the the writer, joining in with Miley’s Agent – who, if so, needs to find someone with 15 more minutes…fast. Same with mFan, who also launches a more subtle dig, presuming we’re all to old to get it.

        Yes – and turnabout is fair play. I’ll have my digs at you lot too.

        Bob, the writer (…may I call you Bob?) is completely correct, if a bit redundant which seems to bother Julianna more than the repeated thrashings of our own culture. MC has not gone down any new roads, broken any new borders – they’re exactly the same artificial boundaries that Madonna bounces against occasionally. Robin Thicke is worse – a visual rehash of Robert Palmer, but with more smug mugging by his glib cohorts and a lessened sense of objective other than to very cheaply tittilate.

        First off, America – get real about sex. Stop letting it be used as a means to sell tv and papers, to allow blowhards to make money and pontificate (…I’m presently pontificating at a loss, so I’m likely less morally bankrupt).

        Create safe areas for families but not at the expense of an adult and mature audience, and perhaps this continually-created PR stupidity that arises every time a no-talent actor or singer bends over the wrong way will disappear. With every new “scandal” – if these calculated events can truly be called so – the country’s cumulative IQ seems to drop another point. The rest of the world will be calling you “Otis” at this rate…

        America. Get serious. You’re being left behind.

    2. Christopher Hobe Morrison says:

      I did read this story, but that’s the only attention I will pay to Miley Cyrus or MTV. As far as Mfan is concerned, I don’t pay much attention to McCartney either. I guess we’re all just old fogets who feel this way. I can live with that. I’m not going to speculate on Miley Cyrus’ talent. It is not a matter of interest to me as I don’t have any money invested in her or her career.

    3. mfan says:

      Bob say to ignore the young people by the stage, but pay attention to the old people like him. Is he kidding me??? And if Bob is calling Miley a “no talent” based on what he saw at the VMA’s, it’s just clear he hasn’t been to one of Miley’s concerts. Probably going to see Paul McCartney again.

      • Hannah says:

        Oh and Paul McCartney has less talent than Miley Cyrus? Please. I’m the age of 17 and I dearly enjoy The Beatles. You don’t need to watch the VMA’s to know Miley Cyrus has no talent, let alone one of her “concerts”. Get back to me when she gets to Paul McCartney’s level.

        • mfan2 says:

          Here’s another “you’ve got to be kidding me” comment. First, Bob says to ignore your customers (young people buy much more music than people over 30), and now Hannah, bless her heart, is saying she doesn’t need to see Miley perform anywhere to judge her talent. Not at the VMA’s and not at one of her sold out arena performances, which apparantly can’t even be dignified with the innocuous term “concert”.

          Clearly, my reference to Paul McCartney was because of his age (71), but FYI, Hannah: The Beatles were part of the counterculture. That means they were chosen as representatives of their age because they didn’t conform to the ideas of quality and talent held by parents of the counterculture generation. The Beatles, including Paul McCartney, couldn’t sing well compared to the previous idols of generations before. That was sort of the point. While their parents were wondering why their kids didn’t listen to “real” singers, like Mario Lanza, these kids chose their idols in order to tweek their parents noses.
          So idolize The Beatles all you want, but realize you are doing so for reasons other than their singing talent. Just as you are clearly hating on Miley for reason other than her talent. Maybe you should take a step back to determine where all of this anger you have is coming from.

          I do admit that Bob, who wrote this article, did cheese me off a little by almost coming right out and saying that his judgement of talent should prevail over others, just as the parents who hated The Beatles said. In a democracy, it’s all of our opinions together that matter. To that point, Miley’s new song, “Wrecking Ball”, is number one in the country right now. The people have spoken.

    4. Pamela says:

      Thank you. I am not the only one that does not care about VMAs. Wish all that energy had been targeted toward stories about education gaps, feeding hungry US kids or clean water.

    5. Annie says:

      “We’d all be better off by ignoring the calculated marketing efforts of creatively bankrupt celebs”

      Is the irony of this statement completely lost on you Bob?

    6. Robert Radley says:

      While I believe Miley has more than a thimbleful of talent, this was a business decision. For some time this young woman – who is actually rather nice in real life – has been developing a faux transgressive image for one reason – it tworks.

    7. makeda says:

      excellent commentary !

    8. Mjkbk says:

      If ONLY the parental groups were the ONLY bloviators out there. Seems to be a lot of bloviating going on every single day in the infotainment press…..probable case in point, this opinion piece.

    9. You’ve put my very ideas so succinctly, I shan’t waste space, regurgitating them, other than to say, “I couldn’t agree more.”

    10. Miley's Agent says:

      I agree… But can you write the word “bankrupt” one more time…..with feeling

      • Thank God I’m not the only one bothered by that! This piece is such lazy, schlocky writing. Just as bad if not worse than the celebrities he thinks he’s skewering. Instead he just looks like a grumpy old man who hasn’t ever heard of a thesaurus. What passes for “professional” writing these days disgusts me. Variety’s editors shouldn’t reward this incredibly low calibre crap.

    11. cadavra says:

      Wise words. Too bad nobody will heed them.

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