The actress danced around the pole atop a moving ice cream pushcart on the Fox award show, which attracted 4 million viewers, prompting many to claim it was a striptease-inspired act.
"Pole dancing on top of an ice cream cart is not 'hot,' it's left many of us 'cold,' " said Amy Jussel, founder and executive director of Shaping Youth, a nonprofit consortium dealing with the influence of media and marketing on kids.
Miley, who seems trapped between her Disney show image of an innocent teen and her desire to become the next Britney Spears, has been through this before. A 2008 Vanity Fair photograph of her draped in a satin sheet, her bare back and shoulders exposed to the camera, triggered similar criticism from parents.
"She's entitled to grow up. Some do it more gracefully than others," said Gwen Billings, editor of Cynopsis Kids, an e-mail trade publication that covers children and entertainment. "It's really hard to know who's making those decisions. I can't imagine something like this [performance] gets all the way to the stage because a teenager says this is something I want to do. Somebody's got to provide the pole."
Get more: Los Angeles Times