Miley Cyrus: I Haven’t Seen Her Look This Innocent In Years

I didn’t watch the MTV VMAs.  I don’t watch TV.  I often find myself wondering why we have cable and then I remember that I do it for the children.  A week without Dog With A Blog is like a week without bad acting and inane dialogue.  We can’t take it.

We never watched Hannah Montana.  Bunny was too little during that era so we never joined that cult.  But, of course, I’ve seen it in passing.  I know of the phenomenon.

There was a whole lotta talk about Miley after her performance on Sunday.  I didn’t see the actual performance until the following morning when my boss asked me what she had done that had made everybody go berserk and I said I didn’t know but I would pull it up on the computer and we could watch it together.

And that’s what I did.  I watched Miley on the VMAs with my brand new boss.

Mmmmmhmmmmm.

What?  No, it wasn’t awkward at all.  Why do you ask?

Yes, I did apologize repeatedly.

And I haven’t much read the articles about it.  I understand there’s been some slut shaming going on.

I kinda think if you’re slut-shaming, you just weren’t watching.  Cause, to me, she has never looked so innocent and…what’s the correct word?  Unpracticed?  Inexperienced?

And there’s lots of criticism of her parents for allowing this to happen but I don’t feel that’s fair.  Her parents have been marketing and selling her for years.  Now we’re gonna suddenly hold them to some sort of standard?  She’s technically an adult now.  And what she needs is a performance coach.

That’s right.  My contention is that Miley isn’t a slut, she’s a novice.

I saw enough Hannah Montana to know that she has never seen the inside of an acting studio (which wouldn’t stop James Lipton from having her on his show and asking her what her least favorite sound is if he thought it would extend his airtime for another week, but still…..)  Now it’s painfully clear that she is in desperate need of some live performance chops.

Guys, performing live is HARD.  People actually TRAIN to do that shit well, you know.  For YEARS.  You aren’t just born being able to do it – even when everyone is line-dancing to your daddy’s one hit.

As someone who has both trained in theater and has taught theater, I can tell you that there are a few telltale signs that someone is as green as a well-manicured lawn.

1) The performer has no idea what to do with his/her hands.  You would be amazed how many actors can sound natural but cannot look natural on stage.  The hands are a dead giveaway.  Too much gesturing…arms hanging strangely limp…consistently keeping hands in pockets.  It’s hard and it takes a long time to master.  I watched a woman in an Off Broadway show fold the same piece of laundry six times for lack of something better to do with her hands.  If I had been sitting closer, I would have snatched it away from her.  And she had a resume as long as my arm.

In Miley’s case, when she doesn’t know what to do with her hands, she gestures with them in the way a rapper might (which looks fine when you are a rapper and awkward when you are a 20-yr-old blonde girl in a bathing suit) or she stuffs one in a foam sports hand, or she paws helplessly at her crotch.  She needs a class and a choreographer - just like every 20-yr-old who wants to be on stage.  There are no real shortcuts.

2)  The performer occasionally forgets he/she is onstage and then suddenly remembers and overcompensates.  Yes.  It is very easy to forget to perform while you are performing.  Inexperienced performers do it all the time.
You need only look at the first few moments of the video to see this first happen.  She appears and inexplicably sticks out her tongue. Then she realizes she has to walk down stairs and she is amped up on adrenaline and the lights are bright and hot and she takes a second to look down at where she’s stepping and seems to completely forget she’s being watched by millions of people – just for a split second – and then… “OH, YEAH!  I’m ONSTAGE!  I was gonna inexplicably stick out my tongue all the way down these stairs!”

3) There is a tendency, when adrenaline is high and the pressure is on, to physically do more than your voice can handle.  Musical theater people train for years to be able to control their breathing when they are exerting energy so that it doesn’t affect their voices when they sing.  Pop stars are so bad at this.  She is way flat and I don’t think Robin Thicke was in the same key as the band.  Almost all pop stars suffer from this.  They should take musical theater classes.  Respect the craft, yo.

4) The performer is simply too inexperienced to take command of the stage.  (And kindly don’t write to me and tell me how she’s been performing for years and I shouldn’t call her inexperienced.  Performing repeatedly without improving is simply practicing bad habits and making them harder to break.) To some extent, stage presence is an innate, special something that can’t even be taught.  Well, I know someone at The Florida School of the Arts who can probably teach it.  But still, it’s pretty illusive and difficult to come by.  It’s what makes you worthy of being a star.  There are performers who can own a stage without having to even move.  There are performers who can captivate an arena of people with ease.  But it takes time and skill and experience to get there.  And if you don’t have it, you can feel that you don’t have it and there is a tendency to overcompensate.
As a live performer, Miley Cyrus is not particularly graceful, she’s not particularly sexy, and she doesn’t know how to command a stage so she desperately clings to our easily-diverted attention by clumsily dry-humping a foam sports finger.  (In Miley’s defense, Judy Garland tried that in her early days as well but then she worked with masters like Ray Bolger and Danny Kaye and she became a legend.)

I know I’m being a little silly and a little snarky.  But, truth is, when I close my eyes and imagine Miley, I see a little girl in mommy’s lingerie.  She’s gotten in to mommy’s make-up as well and she’s put on too much and it looks garish and clown-like instead of pretty.  She’s wobbling on mommy’s heels and trying to look older and more sophisticated than she is.  It’s adorable if she’s 6 and a little bit heartbreaking when she’s 20 but it isn’t so unusual at either age – trying desperately to be something you’re not.  It’s just that not every 20-yr-old has been put in the position to make that coming-of-age mistake in public on the VMAs.

Still, whether she’s 6 or 20, you mostly just hope someone catches her before she falls.

 

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