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The Reason This Group Is 'Taking Action' Against MTV and Miley Cyrus — and Giving a Strong Warning to Parents


"Some companies are sensitive to negative brand associations."

An education and advocacy organization that works to hold Hollywood accountable for its impact on young people is setting its sights on MTV's annual Video Music Awards show, which will air live on Sunday, August 30 at 9 p.m. ET.

At the center of controversy is MTV's past history of "courting controversy" as well as the network's selection of singer Miley Cyrus — known for unpredictable and edgy behavior — as host of the 32nd annual awards show, according to the Parents Television Council.

"MTV has a long history of courting controversy with its programming, but especially with the VMAs," Melissa Henson, director of grassroots education and advocacy for the advocacy group, told TheBlaze.

Henson highlighted some of the controversial events that have unfolded during the Video Music Awards, including an infamous three-way kiss between Madonna, Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But Cyrus, too, has caught attention for her past behavior during the show.

"This year’s host, Miley Cyrus, made headlines by pretending to masturbate with a giant foam finger and by grinding against Robin Thicke’s crotch during a joint performance," Henson said.

See a current expletive-laden spot being used to advertise the Video Music Awards (caution: strong language):

The Parents Television Council has been reaching out to past sponsors of the Video Music Awards this month to encourage them not to buy ad time, saying that MTV is intentionally bringing raunchy content to young people and that companies should beware.

"If this year’s VMAs are in any way like last year’s, or the previous year’s, and if MTV rates the program as appropriate for fourteen-year-olds despite the presence of adult content, the PTC will be taking action," Henson wrote in a letter addressed to those sponsors. "We will be identifying the companies that helped to pay for that content and urging our members to contact them."

She told TheBlaze that the choice of host, the performers who are slated to appear on stage and the show's promotions all show that young audiences are a key, sought-after demographic for the Video Music Awards.

"Parents need to be aware of the VMAs strong youth-appeal, as well as the fact that MTV pulls in young viewers by using other Viacom-owned properties – like Nickelodeon – to promote the program," she said. "Most children in the U.S. today have TVs in their bedrooms or access to mobile devices that would allow them to stream content."

Henson continued, "Parents need to set firm household rules on media use, and limit their children’s ability to access media content unsupervised."

She said that the Parents Television Council has heard back from some past sponsors who have said that they have no plans to buy time during this years event; Henson expects that other companies are also reevaluating their sponsorship plans.

But not every brand will take heed, she said.

"There are some companies, like Taco Bell, that have demonstrated time and again that they don’t care about what kind of content they are underwriting," Hanson said. "But some companies are sensitive to negative brand associations, and don’t want to be perceived as supporting negative [or] harmful content."

She continued, "And of the companies that don’t pull their support, we hope they will use their unique influence to pressure MTV to keep the VMAs as clean as possible."

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