With a nude bikini and a foam finger, Miley Cyrus gave Lady Gaga a run for her money. The two singers were easily the most provocative performers at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 25, 2013.
Last year’s MTV Video Music Awards made headlines for a string of shockingly raunchy performances, topped off by Miley Cyrus’ tongue-out twerkfest on a then-married Robin Thicke and her sexual gestures with a foam finger. So as Sunday’s 2014 VMAs near, the Parent’s Television Council (PTC) is pleading with the network to please keep it clean(er).
But will they listen?
Amy Doyle, an executive producer of the Video Music Awards, was noncommittal when asked about how risqué this year’s show would be.
“The beauty of the VMAs is we never know what’s going to happen,” she told FOX411. “We put the best artists and some of the world’s most interesting personalities in one room, sit back and watch the magic happen.”
Doyle said MTV was planning “quite the show,” but did at least hint that the network is determined to make this year’s VMAs different from the last.
“Every year there is an expectation for unpredictable moments, this year that expectation feels heightened because last year is still fresh in everyone's minds,” Doyle explained. “By design, each year we re-invent the show so it feels uniquely fresh.”
So, will there be another twerk-athon?
“You never know,” Doyle said.
But industry experts argue that, in fact, producers do know, and the VMAs aren’t as spontaneous as viewers may think.
Ralphie Aversa, a DJ for 955 WPLJ who has attended the VMAs every year since 2010, said the network was well aware of what they were doing when they brought Cyrus and Thicke on stage together.
“From what I heard, Miley and Robin had rehearsed all that. None of that was off the cuff, last-second,” he said. “Everything is rehearsed. Everything is scripted. There are very few things that happen on these telecasts that the producers aren’t aware of ahead of time.”
And that’s exactly what the PTC is worried about. Director of Communications and Policy for the PTC Dan Isett said MTV scripts most of the show, which is why the organization wrote an open letter asking the network to keep the show’s explicit sexual content to a minimum and rate the VMAs as TV-MA if necessary.
“Last year’s content, in particular, created quite a firestorm for a number of reasons,” Isett said. “It was rated appropriate for a 14-year-old child last year.”
He said while artists could get on stage and do as they please, that is not the PTC’s primary concern.
“What we’re talking about is not the sort of one-off, people say goofy things when they’re at the microphone. We’re talking about the scripted content that producers know ahead of time.”
So far, MTV has announced performances from Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift and Iggy Azalea, to name a few. Presenters will include everyone from Kim Kardashian to “Orange is the New Black” star Laverne Cox.
Doyle assured the musical acts would be elaborate.
“Every artist’s imagination is working overtime, there are a lot of ambitious ideas that will create quite the show,” she said.
Former TV producer Ryan McCormick said after last year’s antics, MTV would be wise to just focus on the music.
“They reached the peak of what they could do last year,” he said. “It would be in their interest to do something that is a strong show that you can watch with your children.”
But Aversa argued the show needs controversy to make the VMAs what viewers have become accustomed to seeing.
“I don’t think they’re going to consciously make an effort to tone it down,” he predicted. “The VMAs have become pretty much MTV’s biggest single event now of the year, so I don’t know if they need to be as wild as the whole Miley Cyrus incident… but without those buzz-worthy events I don’t think the VMAs will be as successful for them as they have been in the past years.”
MTV declined to comment on the PTC’s statements about the VMAs.