There was one particular moment during the 2013 MTV European Music Awards that viewers in the United States missed. When Miley Cyrus accepted the award for Best Video, which she won for “Wrecking Ball,” she lit and smoked a joint on stage. That was cut from the US telecast though, with a rather awkward edit.
The EMAs went down in Amsterdam, where the law is far more lenient about marijuana than the United States, so it’s nothing too scandalous. So why bother censoring it? It shows how impossible it is to draw a line between what is and is not acceptable on TV.
While Miley smoking a joint gets cut, a show like “Breaking Bad,” which dealt with the production of crystal meth, is one of the most popular programs in recent memory. There’s also no end to the violence and sex shown on TV. Of course, that’s all fictional, so it’s not a perfect comparison.
What about other shows that air on MTV, though? “The Real World” has regularly documented its cast members drinking entirely too much alcohol, even using it for story line purposes. Add to that shows like “Girl Code,” which aired right before the EMAs. It features funny women discussing female issues, often times with rather explicit language. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it helps illustrate how bizarre the line of what is and is not appropriate is.
Even Seth Rogen and James Franco smoked a “fake” joint on the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, as an ode to that year’s “Pineapple Express.” However, MTV’s camera cut to a wide shot once they realized what was happening, while Rogen joked that the two weren’t “really smoking a big fatty joint from this giant bag of fake weed live on television.” They definitely were.
In the year 2013, 20 US States have at least some form of medicinal marijuana laws, while 14 have taken steps to decriminalize the drug. Washington and Colorado became the first states to outright legalize the drug in the November 2012 election. In fact, a recent Gallup poll showed that more Americans than ever support the legalization of the drug, with 58% of those polled saying it was time.
As for whether or not that sort of thing is allowed on TV, it definitely wouldn’t be the first. Two notable instances would include HLN showing video of Snoop Dogg smoking something during an interview and Zach Galifianakis lighting up during an episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher.” Maher and Galifianakis later claimed it wasn’t a real joint, but one of the guests on the panel of the show smelled what he lit and said it was real during the show.
The irony is that during the EMAs themselves, MTV aired a comedic sketch in which “Anchorman” character Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) ate a hash brownie at a local coffee shop.
At this rate, the question becomes why censor Miley when it doesn’t really need to be done? At no point during her acceptance did she actually classify what she was smoking as marijuana and if she did, is it any worse than some of the other stuff MTV airs on its network?
For video of Miley and others smoking joints on TV, check out the collection of clips below: