No, That Wasn't Will Smith Reacting to Miley Cyrus

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
Aug. 26 2013 11:51 AM

No, That Wasn't Will Smith Reacting to Miley Cyrus

Smith_reaction_Miley

Last night’s MTV Video Music Awards were full of memorable performances, but by far the most talked-about performance was from Miley Cyrus, who twerked, stuck her tongue out, and stripped down to a flesh-colored bikini for a rendition of “Blurred Lines.”

It was raunchy and race-baiting—New York music critic Jody Rosen has called it “a minstrel show routine”—and the one photo that seemed to sum up everyone’s feelings was Will Smith and his family’s aghast reaction shot:

The still went viral, and sites including BuzzFeed, Jezebel, Us Weekly, and Business Insider rushed to snag it from Twitter and post it. There’s only one problem: They took Twitter as a reliable source. That wasn't Will and Jaden Smith reacting to Miley Cyrus. As you can tell from the bottom-right corner of the photo, they were reacting to Lady Gaga.

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If you want to see plenty of other disgusted reactions that are actually to Cyrus—including a death stare from Rihanna (though the Smiths seem to be enjoying themselves)—you can watch Miley’s performance below.

Update, Aug. 27, 2013: Here, via MTV, is video proof that the still was captured during Lady Gaga.

In fact, they seem to be enjoying her performance, which is just one more reason not to trust stills taken out of context and passed around on Twitter.

Forrest Wickman is a Slate staff writer.