Feminists are decrying the media for trashing Miley Cyrus for her embarrassing performance at Sunday night's Video Music Awards while giving Robin Thicke a pass for his part in it (at the same time ignoring Kendrick Lamar's and 2 Chainz's contribution in tastelessness, but for the sake of this article, we will too).
Just like a "pimp" is portrayed in our culture as hip and "hoes" are considered trashy, so their argument goes that Thicke strutting around scantily dressed women is celebrated while Cyrus stripping down to her undies is ridiculed. There is some truth to their argument, but the real reason for the media bias isn't sexism but rather the age-old question of "Who's Your Daddy?"
Miley Cyrus' dad is Billy Ray Cyrus, the one-hit wonder behind the redneck anthem "Achy Breaky Heart." Twenty years ago, country folk were line dancing at honky tonks to the mulleted marvel's crooning. City folks laugh at this song.
Billy Ray then mostly disappeared from our consciousness except for a brief appearance as a trashy pool-cleaning Romeo in the David Lynch movie Mulholland Drive. Then in 2006, he popped back up on the Disney Channel's Hannah Montana, where he played his real-life daughter Miley's dad and is now hawking a memoir titled Hillbilly Heart. Though he's an unlikely supporter of Barack Obama and seemingly cool guy IRL, most noncountry fans do not equate the Cyrus name with class.
Meanwhile, Thicke's Dad is Alan Thicke: actor, talk-show host, singer (of the theme songs for Diff'rent Strokes and Facts of Life). But most famously, he was Jason Seaver, the dad on Growing Pains. Sure, one of his kids (Tracy Gold) wrestled publicly with eating disorders, another is the go-to star for preachy Christian movies (Kirk Cameron), while the third (Jeremy Miller) just made headlines for his battle with alcoholism.
But to Jason Seaver's credit, he did take in a homeless Leonardo DiCaprio and seemed to straighten him up good. But most important to a generation that came of age in the 1980s and now largely makes up the media, Jason Seaver, AKA Alan Thicke, personified what an upstanding father should be: long on patience and quick with one-liners. He always knew what to say to point his children in the right direction. And so when Robin walks down the stage, the spitting image of his father, we can not help but see him as a wholesome guy having a little fun for the evening.
Miley also stands in her father's seeming shadow, but that shadow is one that colors her as a whacked-out, ignorant, wannabe twerker.