Miley Cyrus has been announced as the lead performer at the 2013 American Music Awards, topping the massive list of 19 artists scheduled to play the live show. The provocateuse will be hitting the prime-time television stage for the first time since her controversial MTV Video Music Awards performance, and on all eyes will be on her, her outfits, and whatever her pelvis decides to do.
Being that her AMAs performance follows up the performance that could possibly be her career-defining moment, what can Cyrus possibly, and legally, do to top herself? The natural place to look might be television's law enforcer, the Federal Communications Commissions' regulations on indecency, obscenity, and profanity.
Here's how the FCC defines these terms:
Indecency - "Language or material that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory organs or activities."
So: She can't show more skin than she already has, no simulated intercourse or bowel movements. Probably the best for everyone.
Profanity - "Language so grossly offensive to members of the public who actually hear it as to amount to a nuisance."
So: No swearing, no slurs, no outrageous rants, and (the joke a lot of people would make about Cyrus) no singing, period.
1. "An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest ("prurient" means interest pertaining to sex);
2. The material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and
3. The material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value."
So: Plenty of average American folks would check off all three requirements to qualify Cyrus's VMAs performance as outright obscenity, but thus far Cyrus is left untouched by the FCC.
With all these things in mind, we came up with a brief list of things Miley Cyrus can do to top her VMAs performance, in accordance with the law.
1. Focus on the music - Tone down the moves and the outfits and bring attention to her talent. This may be the most shocking option on our list, given that people are probably expecting Cyrus to go off the deep end. Even more shocking would be the fact that she is actually a pretty great live singer.
2. A-list wow factor - Have an outrageously amazing, wholly unexpected gaggle of surprise guests perform with her. The guests would have to be among the likes of Beyoncé, Mick Jagger, Daft Punk, Christopher Walken, President Obama, etc.
3. Moving duet with her dad, Billy Ray - All would be right in the Cyrus family's world, at least for one song.
4. Get meta and bring those memes to life, girlfriend! - Any funny, self-referential jabs are always entertaining. Example: grind on the real Beetlejuice onstage.
5. Three words: SICK SPECIAL EFFECTS (one more word, STUNTS) - Cyrus can harness the entertainment power of technology, death-defying feats, and explosions to blow out her performance with an impressive visual display that tantalizes eyeballs in a different way. Could include riding a giant disco-mirrored wrecking ball, swinging precariously over the audience with nominee Robin Thicke inside, probably against his will.
6. Straight-up break the rules - Whether it's a genuine accident like Janet Jackson's Super Bowl wardrobe malfucntion, or a deliberate move à la M.I.A. flipping the bird (also at the Super Bowl), Cyrus could just slide in a brief act of defiance during her performance and face the morality firing squad head-on. Also, clearly she needs to be on the Super Bowl half-time show.
7. Not show up. Cyrus could just bail out and leave while she's on top. She may never reach that insane level of fame and scrutiny again as she did with her VMAs performance, so why ruin a good thing? A disappointing performance could be worse than no performance at all.
Overall, looks like Cyrus can’t move forward on the indecency front without incurring hefty fines and possible jail time. So her only options are to scale way back and focus on her singing, or take a more traditional approach to entertainment with flair, flash, and famous people. Then again, if the government shutdown persists until the show's air date on November 24, the FCC will be limited to "performing duties that are immediately necessary for the safety of life or the protection of property."