FCC Investigating Complaints of Miley Cyrus Indecency

Image: FCC Investigating Complaints of Miley Cyrus Indecency Recording artist Miley Cyrus. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 04:26 PM

By John Blosser

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The Federal Communications Commission is investigating complaints against NBC and former Disney "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus, which could result in an official condemnation letter or a six-figure fine against the network.

Cyrus, 21, who has swapped her clean-cut Disney image for a risqué music career, has been blasted by viewers for graphic indecency in her July Fourth weekend show broadcast on NBC, "Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour," according to Fox News.

During her appearance, Cyrus, dressed in skimpy costumes, did a sexy dance routine with a dancer dressed like Abraham Lincoln, another dancer dressed as a marijuana cigarette and others like lighters, and she snuggled with several men and women in a huge bed.

Rolling Stone
reported that just three complaints touched off the FCC investigation, including one which stated, "I am offended, appalled, and ready to start taking public action to remove this garbage from our televisions. Now, during the summer evenings when the kids get to stay up late, why would they choose to air a highly controversial 'pop star' who freely advertises that her songs are all about sex and drugs, who wears costumes that would perhaps be more appropriate if she were dancing on a pole in some club somewhere?"

Yet another viewer wrote, "The live Miley Cyrus concert program was borderline pornographic in images and the lyrics to the songs. Open sexuality on a stage bed, male/male female/female homosexuality. Very graphic and disturbing for a Sunday evening 9 p.m. summertime broadcast. Please investigate this and prevent it from ever being shown again."

Cyrus' even raunchier appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards in August 2013 touched off a much more vociferous explosion of outrage with 150 filings flooding the FCC. However, the FCC has jurisdiction only over broadcast television outlets, not cable networks, which broadcast the MTV show, The Smoking Gun noted.

On that show, Cyrus was roundly criticized for grinding suggestively against co-host Alan Thicke, gesticulating obscenely with a large foam rubber finger and performing in very skimpy costumes. One viewer wrote to the FCC, "God help this nation," and yet another wrote, "Where has censorship gone?"

Legal and media experts doubt the FCC will take any substantial punitive action. Michael Overing, censorship and legal communications professor at the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, told Fox, "It is offensive, but indecent? Doesn't seem to be indecent. Offensive conduct alone isn't outside the First Amendment."

Gene Grabowski, with Levick Strategic Communications, told Fox, "NBC and Miley are pursuing ratings. It is fairly obvious that executives knew what would happen when they decided to televise this special. They knew the programming would be risqué and in questionable taste."

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