Miley Resurrected the VMAS in August 2013

Our month-by-month retrospective of 2013 continues with August, when Miley Cyrus's VMA performance brought "Blurred Lines" to another level. 

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The Year That Was, 2013 is far too large of a topic to tackle all at once, even when only focusing on the pop culture aspects. Breaking things down month-by-month feels like the smarter call. We'll be working our way through the year one month at a time, remembering the songs, films, TV, and other fun/horrifying stuff that we may well have already forgotten.

The #1 Song

August's number one song, just like it was for June and July, was Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines." The catchy pop tune had topped the charts and been the source of controversy all summer - a non-censored version of the song's music video shows a handful of topless models dancing around Thicke and featured-singer Pharell, and the song's "you know you want it," refrain makes it sound, well, pretty rapey. But in August, the scandalous single became better known as a vehicle for Miley Cyrus's jaw-dropping performance at the otherwise culturally irrelevant MTV Video Music Awards (8/26).

Miley, wearing little more than an aggressively provocative, tongue-baring expression, twerked across the stage and grinded on Thicke like she'd never heard of Hannah Montana. She prompted a wave of East to West Coast outrage, and quickly became a polarizing star - Miley fans lauding her courage to be sexual but not sexy in the soft, submissive way of most pop stars, and critics describing her dancing as ignorant racial appropriation. Even Sinead O'Conner (eventually) weighed in, with an open letter to the young star.

The #1 Movie 

We're the Millers was August's top flick, beating out The Butler and the much-anticipated dystopian thriller Elysium. The Jennifer Aniston/Jason Sudeikis vehicle—about a wacky non-family stitched together by Sudeikis so he can convincingly stage a drug-smuggling familial RV trip—got less-than-stellar reviews. The Associated Press called it "the broadest of caricatures," but concedes that "as a diversion, one could do worse," which is basically all we want out of a late summer flick.

The Month in TV

Breaking Bad obsession was high in August, so high that actress Anna Gunn, who plays Skyler White, took to the pages of the New York Times to express her shock at the outsize bile directed at her character. She wrote:

“I have never hated a TV-show character as much as I hate her,” one poster wrote. The consensus among the haters was clear: Skyler was a ball-and-chain, a drag, a shrew, an “annoying bitch wife.”

The hatred was also directed at Gunn herself, who wrote that "One such post read: 'Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?'" Hopefully threats on Gunn's life have ceased now that Breaking Bad is over.

Late Show With David Letterman celebrated its 20th anniversary (8/29) by inviting back the show's first ever guest, Bill Murray. Murray, dressed as Liberace, hacks up Dave's stage in pursuit of a time capsule he ultimately finds ("This is from twenty years ago!") and then serenades him with a very Murrayish rendition of "I Will Always Love You."

And Doctor Who fans everywhere learned in early August that the Peter Capaldi will be the twelfth actor to play the Doctor.


People reacted very, very strongly to the casting of Ben Affleck as the next Batman, and the last day of the Electric Zoo music festival was canceled after two attendees died and four were hospitalized after using MDMA.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.