Prurient

Defined:  1. Inordinately interested in matters of sex; lascivious.  2.b. appealing to an inordinate interest in sex.  ADJECTIVE  (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language,)

Well, quite recently, this fits Miley Cyrus’ performance on MTV’s awards show. Let’s test it.

“Appealing to sexual desire,” according to Merriam-Webster.com‘s definition of prurient.  Check.  Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged defines prurient as “exciting or encouraging lustfulness”.  Check.  The Collins dictionary also defines prurient in psychological terms as “unusually or morbidly interested in sexual thoughts or practices”.  Check again.  But this time maybe the term applies to the audience.

To be honest, my first thought when this performance appeared on the news channels the next day was why this guy was dressed up like Beetlejuice.  (I had to Google Robin Thicke.) My next thought was “What the heck is the issue here?” Oh, right!  This was Hannah Montana, Miley CyrusDisney persona half naked and  twerking (had to look that up too).  At least that’s who the audience saw center stage channeling  Gene Simmons and making out with a big foam finger. But in all actuality, such a performance by Miley Cyrus is not surprising (as I found out).  Not anymore.

The viewers’ reaction to Ms. Cyrus’ prurient performance had more to do with their own perceptions and biases than it did with the performance itself.  They indeed saw the embodiment of the character Hannah Montana in Miley Cyrus instead of seeing the performer Miley Cyrus.  I think they care overmuch about a stranger’s self-expression, perhaps revealing their own “unusual interest in sexual thoughts or practices”.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Definitions

1. having or characterized by lascivious or lustful thoughts, desires, etc.
2. causing lasciviousness or lust.
[1630–40; < Latin prūrient- (s. of prūriēns), present participle of prūrīre to itch]

(Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.)

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