MTV Asks Miley to "Get Wild," Is Then Forced to Censor the Results

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 11 2013 10:24 AM

What Miley Cyrus Did This Time

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Miley Cyrus onstage during the MTV EMA's 2013 at the Ziggo Dome on November 10, 2013 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for MTV

Miley Cyrus opened last night's MTV Europe Music Awards with her latest attention-seeking rendition of We Can't Stop, a live performance that included what the Associated Press is accurately if somewhat hilariously describing this morning as the pop star "gyrating her buttocks in the move known as twerking." If that's where things ended, there's a decent chance no one would be talking about the 20-year-old pop star this morning. But Miley doesn't take such risks. And so, later in the show while accepting an award for her music video for Wrecking Ball, she pulled out a joint and proceeded to smoke it on stage to the delight of the crowd.

By the time MTV broadcast the Amsterdam-hosted show stateside last night the moment in question was gone, edited out by the show's producers, who left in its place a noticeably stunted and joint-free acceptance speech from Cyrus. The FCC doesn't define smoking in itself as indecent behavior (while it was widely and rightfully assumed that Cyrus was smoking pot, that fact went unsaid), and even if it did cable channels aren't typically subject to FCC regulations. So MTV's decision to censor Cyrus was likely more about curbing a backlash from advertisers and advocacy groups than it was about about avoiding a fine. Of course, you don't invite Cyrus to a party and then complain about the PR heachache she leaves you with in the morning. Or at least you shouldn't if you spent the days leading up to the show running promos asking: “How Wild Will Miley Get At The EMAs?

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This post has been updated to include video and to include more information about the relationship between the FCC and cable stations.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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