The best lack all conviction, William Butler Yeats wrote in “The Second Coming,” while the worst are full of passionate intensity. He was talking about postwar Europe, but he might as well have described the world we would inherit a century later. Probably, Yeats’s claim is always true. You don’t get to be the worst without great confidence in what you’re doing, and the same qualities that makes the best better encourage them to doubt themselves. Today is Friday, and jerks continue to operate without a moment’s doubt. Won’t you waver along with me?
Let us assume that Miley Cyrus did what she did at the Video Music Awards on purpose. Certainly, she put on a one-piece swimsuit and danced with enormous teddy bears while slapping her previously unacknowledged vagina on purpose. But let us assume that she was purposeful in the effect she created, too. Specifically, let us not proceed from the assumption that she tried to do something really sexy and failed. Instead, I propose we take it as a premise that Miley Cyrus did not believe twerking teddy bears would be unequivocally hot, nor did she think sticking her tongue out as far as possible would be a sublimely coquettish gesture. I propose that we assume artistic intent, and think about her VMA performance as if she wanted it to be really weird.