MILEY Cyrus's raunchy performance at Monday's MTV Video Music Awards has well and truly dashed her Disney image, and that's why many people are so upset says an Australian academic.
Dr Lauren Rosewarne, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne, says Cyrus's hip-thrusting, foam finger-humping performance was a very calculated move to appeal to a new and very different fan base.
She calls the display a "sexing-it-up rite of passage" in her latest opinion piece for The Conversation.
And this all-grown-up, twerking and tongue-twirling Miley is something Hannah Montana fans, and their parents, still can't come to terms with.
That's why social media exploded over Miley's nude underwear and not Lady Gaga's seashell thong.
"Miley was a child star and that many in her audience are unable to let go of the image of her as Hannah Montana and thus the image of her in her underwear seems particularly controversial," Dr Rosewarne told APN from the US.
"Many people in the audience forget that she's 20 years old now."
Dr Rosewarne, who has written on the subjects of sexual perversion, gender and sexuality and the politics of popular culture, said Miley's on-stage twerking with Blurred Lines singer Robin Thicke will cause havoc for some parents.
"Certainly some people - some parents, notably - want Disney stars to stay forever young rather than having to have a potentially difficult conversation with their child as to why Hannah Montana is stripping on stage," she said.
She believes Cyrus is "cashing in" on the attention and jumping on the sexy pop singer bandwagon. But that's not to say she is trying to appeal to Hannah Montana fans.
"Miley was cashing in on the audience's prurient interest in sexualising child stars," she said.
"The message for audiences is complicated and likely varies from girl to girl. I think a notable takeaway is that Miley is consciously trying to court a very different audience to the one that she held as Hannah Montana."
And what was with those giant teddy bears Miley was so keen to get down with?
"Positioning teddy bears as back-up dancers in a scantily clad bump-n-grind is a gorgeously plush reminder of the prurient appeal of Cyrus: that she's legal. Barely, but still," she wrote on The Conversation.
Dr Rosewarne doesn't call for condemnation or, alternatively, celebration. She would rather recognise the "kink factor" and move on.
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