Actress/singer Bette Midler has leaped to the defence of controversial pop stars Miley Cyrus and Rihanna, insisting their saucy dance moves are harmless.

The Beaches star admits she was shocked when she first saw young female singers 'twerking' in their pop promos, and feared standards of decency had fallen too far.

However, she was subsequently watching 1980s music videos online and realised the booty-shaking dance moves are tame compared to past performers.

Midler tells U.K. Tv show Loose Women, "The twerking, that's actually kind of an old thing... (The 1980s dancing was) way beyond what they do now. What they do now is whitewash, it really is. The first time I saw it I was really, really depressed - it's like, what is the world coming to? But, you know, the world has been around for a long time. A little twerking isn't going to kill anybody."