Miley Cyrus' VMAs Performance Was Embarrassing for Everyone

It's officially become uncomfortable to watch the pop star try to put her Disney image behind her

Nobody at the MTV Video Music Awards made a bigger impression than Miley Cyrus -- and that's not necessarily a good thing. The 20-year-old singer performed her party anthem "We Can't Stop," then brought out Robin Thicke for an unexpected duet of his "Blurred Lines." Sounds like a pretty standard VMAs performance, right? Until you actually see it:

We expected the twerking, even though it's getting old. The teddy bears were a little nightmarish, but whatever. The really disturbing thing was Miley herself. She spent half the performance sticking out her tongue, then the other half making obscene gestures: grabbing her crotch, molesting a dancer's butt, grinding aggressively against Robin Thicke, even suggestively sucking a foam finger. It was like she'd just read an eHow article called "How to Act Sexy." It was so, so awkward.

As embarrassing as it was to watch Miley's performance on TV, it was even worse watching it from the audience. How do we know? From the looks on these celebrities' faces:

Jaden and Willow Smith were dumbfounded:

Rihanna was seriously unimpressed: 

Harry Styles
and the rest of One Direction did not find it sexy:

kept his head down and waited it out:

So, yeah. Basically, that performance was the epitome of Miley trying way too hard to lose her Disney image. The real problem is that Miley's overnight transformation from country-pop sweetheart to weed-smoking ratchet girl is still giving us all whiplash. It seems so forced, so out of line with everything that came before. And frankly, it's uncomfortable to watch her appropriate a culture that she so obviously knows nothing about. It just contributes to the impression that nothing about Miley is authentic anymore.

Then again, has Miley ever been authentic? Her teen-idol image certainly wasn't. Looking at the audience reaction Sunday night, there was a clear vibe of "Who does this girl think she is?" Obviously, she really doesn't know. And neither do we.

Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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