Miley Cyrus, Controversy, and the Web

by Bradley Jobling on October 24, 2013

To generate traffic and engagement on the web it seems like advice of the day is to to bring up something controversial or to take a stand the will encourage response. This used to be a bad thing, but it seems to be pervading our culture. I refer to this as the “ick” factor.

Miley Cyrus & friend

Miley Cyrus & friend

Television programs used to be predictable. By the end of the show Jan and Greg Brady would always see the error of their ways They would apologize to their parents who always knew best. Anything that didn’t fit in was swept under the carpet. (Robert Reed died of complications due to AIDS in 1992, something I don’t remember as ever being publicized at the time.) A bit of non-conformity was expected from Hollywood, but usually kept under wraps and mostly controlled as not to upset Midwestern or Southern sensibilities. Elizabeth Taylor and all her husbands was an exception. She could do no wrong.

At some point along the way we graduated to this era of nothing is quite as it seems, a state of “grayness” where not everything makes sense. Dissonance is now good. On television we had a mobster, Tony Soprano, with a moral dilemmas. Tony Soprano must deal with his sense of guilt when it’s obvious to his children what he does for a living. Vigilantism is good, Dexter the serial killer rights wrongs. To make a mark on our ever jaded consciousness we must shock or come up with the unexpected. Is this why we have a naked man in an apron selling us salad dressing on YouTube? It seems now that we can actually comprehend the 50 shades of anything.

It was suggested the a conservative marketing brand think about “medical porn”, or using realistic medical pictures as a way to increase engagement. People are fascinated by these medical insider views not available to the general public until the web came about.

Of course if taken in the wrong way the courting of controversy can all go horribly wrong,but I guess with our short memory spans I don’t think this matters as much as it used to. Shocking with bit of the “ick” makes us remember and share. Still, I am hoping that Kathy Lee and Hoda spare us on the twerking lessons. The thought of two past middle-age “B” celebrities trying to out Miley, Miley would certainly shock, but not in the good way.