08/30/2013 08:17 am ET Updated Oct 30, 2013

Miley Cyrus and the Death of Talent


A lifetime ago, when I was writing about rock'n'roll for a daily newspaper, I had to watch and then write about the very first MTV Video Music Awards.

And the scandal of the night? The fact that then-newly-minted star Madonna bumped, ground and otherwise humped the stage while singing her hit of the moment, Like A Virgin.

The outrage was such that you'd have thought she performed a ritual sacrifice of kittens onstage, instead of merely dancing suggestively.

Yet here we are, more than 50 years into the sexual revolution sparked by the invention of birth-control pills -- and that Puritan ethos still holds incredible sway when it comes to popular entertainment.

Was I shocked at Miley Cyrus's VMA performance? You're damn right I was. I didn't watch it live (I had something urgent to attend to, like plucking unsightly hairs from my ears) and only read enough to get the gist of what she'd done. Then I tracked down a link to her performance and tried to watch it.

But I couldn't stomach more than 30 seconds before I had to turn it off. Shocked and appalled, I thought to myself:

Why is this minimally talented, mildly attractive young woman a star?

This commentary continues on my website.