The MTV Video Music Awards has long been known as TV’s strangest awards show and Miley Cyrus lived up to that reputation with a provocative performance that involved twerking and running a foam finger along her body.
Cyrus, 20, kicked off her performance by singing her hit summer single, “We Can’t Stop.” The pop star (who described herself as a “pro-twerker” in the ABC Celeb Quiz) appeared on stage with a multitude of dancing teddy bears while she wagged her tongue out to the cameras and slapped a woman’s butt on stage.
The former Disney star eventually stripped off her bear-inspired ensemble and revealed a nude bikini underneath as her dancers surrounded her with giant teddy bears strapped to their backs.
The weirdness turned into raunchy when Robin Thicke appeared on stage to perform “Blurred Lines.” Cyrus remained on stage to sing backup vocals and ran a foam finger along her private parts with some major pelvic thrusts. At one point, Cyrus appeared to be nuzzling Thicke’s neck. But the most talked-about moment came when Cyrus bent down in front of Thicke and gave him the mother of all twerks.
“Miley better get a damn pregnancy test after all that grinding,” joked comedian Kevin Hart afterward.
With one swift twerk, Cyrus made much of Lady Gaga’s past antics look tame and ignited strong reviews of her performance on Twitter. Cyrus was mentioned 4.5 million times on Twitter, ahead of Justin Timberlake’s 2.9 mentions. Cyrus and Thicke’s performance led in tweets per minute peaks with 306,100, according to The Associated Press.
MTV panned to the crowd during Cyrus’ performance to capture the audience’s reaction. Will Smith and his family sat there with their mouths hanging open.
Many memes and gifs started to circulate showing the reaction of audience members to Cyrus’ performance.
While Cyrus and Thicke grabbed most of the headlines, neither walked away with any awards despite four nominations each.
Here is a sampling of the Twitter reaction to Cyrus’ performance.
— Katie Couric (@katiecouric) August 26, 2013
Miley Cyrus just ruined my day/week/month/year/life
— Connor Schofield (@connorpizza) August 26, 2013
Everything about @MileyCyrus performance was talentless and disgusting.
— Joe Brooks ♔ (@joebrooksmusic) August 26, 2013
Will Smith was so horrified by the Miley Cyrus performance tonight that he moved his entire family out of Bel Air. #VMA
— MMA Roasted (@MMARoasted) August 26, 2013
Miley killed it at vmas! New girl crush http://t.co/LpcXiDwVav
— JWOWW (@JENNIWOWW) August 26, 2013
— Aubrey O’Day (@AubreyODay) August 26, 2013
It’s nice that Miley is comfortable with herself.
— Judd Apatow (@JuddApatow) August 26, 2013
What if miley is just like us and woke up and is like guys what happened last night
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 26, 2013