Does Anyone Care About Miley Cyrus Without the Controversy?

Some eyebrows were raised when it was announced that NBC would air a two-hour special featuring pop star Miley Cyrus’ recent “Bangerz” tour, which has made headlines for her scandalous shenanigans — including copious amounts of nudity and pot smoking — before U.S. dates were postponed due to Cyrus’ allergic reaction to antibiotics. The network special was a tamed-down version of the wild tour that viewers were just not interested in watching, as was evidenced by the program’s awful ratings.

Miley Cyrus: Bangerz Tour only nabbed 2 million viewers on Sunday night, with a 0.7 rating among adults 18-49, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan seen by Entertainment Weekly. While it wasn’t expected that anything airing on a Sunday night of a holiday weekend would perform spectacularly, the Bangerz special was among the least-watched shows on television during its time slot. On Fox, the cartoons Family Guy and American Dad, and on ABC, the poorly rated talent program Rising Star nabbed more viewers than the Bangerz special.

The Bangerz tour gained infamy for stunts that included Miley riding a giant hot dog, dry humping a backup dancer dressed like a joint, stuffing a thong a fan tossed on stage into her mouth, and spreading her legs and sticking her tongue out a lot. To some this represents the impending crumble of society, while to others it’s a delightfully fun bit of camp. But there was no way NBC was going to allow a pot smoking on TV, and without the weed and nudity, who is Miley Cyrus? Apparently not someone people are interested in watching on NBC on a Sunday evening.

“Miley Cyrus’ two-hour NBC special was not the jerking, twerking weed commercial her Bangerz tour often can be on the road,” Rolling Stone said. “But really, it was a showcase that Cyrus can indeed sing and perform outside of (or maybe more accurately alongside) the controversies.”

There was still lots of signature Miley weirdness, including an animated kitten mouthing the words to “We Can’t Stop” while Miley sang to a little person dancer in a joint costume. But the special probably would have been more successful had it aired on a premium channel like HBO, where Miley could be herself in all her profane, naked, stoned glory, which is how her fans would prefer to see her.

Meanwhile, Miley fans were more interested in the debauchery that Cyrus was up to over the Fourth of July weekend, which included getting a matching bizarre tattoo of her late dog Floyd with the Flaming Lips’ frontman Wayne Coyne and his girlfriend at a house party in L.A. Cyrus also appears in the a new short film from the Flaming Lips titled “Blonde SuperFreak Steals the Magic Brain,” which premiered on Rolling Stone.

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