(Image: JStone / Shutterstock.com)

Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards was definitely a feast for the senses, but one of its most surprising moments was Miley Cyrus’ acceptance speech for “Wrecking Ball” as Video of the Year.

In fact, it turned out to not be Miley at all. It was “Jesse,” a 22-year old self-described homeless man who said he was accepting the award on behalf of the 1.6 million runaways and homeless in the U.S. who are “starving, lost and scared for their lives.”

Camera cut to Cyrus, sitting off stage on the sidelines with a wistful look and tears streaming from her eyes. At the same time, Cyrus’ reps were unveiling a fundraising campaign via social media for My Friend’s Place, an LA based organization that helps the homeless.

People who donate are entered into a lottery to win a chance to be Cyrus’ guest on her upcoming tour in Rio.

It didn’t take long for the Twitter sphere to light up with praise. One fan even called her a modern day Mother Teresa. That’s a far cry from Miley’s gyrating “twerking” routine at last year’s VMAs that sent shockwaves throughout the entertainment community and literally caused a global uproar.

People couldn’t stop talking about her risqué routine for what seemed like an eternity, so much so that Time Magazine even considered her for its coveted “Person of the Year.”

But watch what happens.

The actress and singer, once vilified for being too racy and sexually suggestive, has set the PR pendulum in motion. You never know. Cyrus the “twerker” might soon become known as Cyrus the philanthropist. Stranger things have happened, right?

Of course, Cyrus insists it’s not a publicity stunt, but just the beginning of a long-term campaign against homelessness.

Stunt or not, Cyrus has developed quite a penchant for changing her image in the media, from demure Disney star to the Queen of Twerk, and it’s clear on Sunday she didn’t want to be upstaged by anyone, especially the heavy hitters on that VMA stage, from Nicki Minaj and Arianna Grande to Iggy Azalea and Beyonce.

Clearly, Cyrus’ publicity team has had its wheels turning.

According to The New York Times, a representative said Cyrus modeled her acceptance speech on actor Marlon Brando’s decision to have a woman named Sacheen Littlefeather accept his Best Actor Oscar for “The Godfather” in 1973 to protest the movie industry’s treatment of Native Americans.

Whether this is a more mature and compassionate person on the road to social activism or a carefully planned and scripted PR stunt, smart move for Miley. Way to make that twerk disappear.

 

By Kuae Kelch Mattox