Human Papilloma-Cyrus

The public reaction to Miley Cyrus‘ performance at the VMAs is surprising.  Though I haven’t spent much time, if any, searching for opinions on her antics, a mere glance at the nightly news, Twitter feeds, Facebook, and internet news sites alerted me to the buzz her performance generated, most of it negative.   The public, it seems, is shocked by her sexually-provocative dancing with the juxtaposition of her being prominent on the Disney Channel a few years ago.  The thought goes, I assume, that little girls will be influenced by Miley’s grown-up behavior and act in a similar manner, much to the chagrin of their helpless parents.  My view is a little different.

What happened on stage is merely a symptom of an underlying virus in our society, what I’ll call the Human Papilloma-Cyrus.  Treating the symptoms (the twerk-heavy dance number with foam finger bonus footage) with gasps and declarations of how shameful the performance was seems shrill and counterproductive.  It’s akin to treating cancer with an aspirin.   There is a larger, underlying virus at work in our culture at large, and until it is eradicated we will continue to see this type of behavior and worse.

As these types of discussions often have political undertones I feel I need to make several disclaimers.  I am very conservative on some issues and equally liberal on others.  I am not a persnickety old person who is constantly whining about the youth in America.  I like sex and an occasional glass of wine, maybe two.  I am a Christian.  I consider myself a true feminist, and I believe a free-market, capitalist system, though imperfect, is the best.  I have a daughter who is a month younger than Miley Cyrus.  Obviously none of these things grant me expert status on whether a specific dance move is racist or what types of anti-bacterial product is the best for cleaning foam fingers, but I stay informed with what is happening in popular culture.  I am especially familiar with Miley since my three children watched the Disney Channel throughout all the years she starred on Hannah Montana.  One last disclaimer….I am not a conspiracy theorist.  Of course, that is usually the final remark made before someone in an aluminum hat spouts off his manifesto from an underground bunker.

The “virus” that I think is at the heart of Miley’s performance is the attempt to switch the roles of children and parents, a kind of Freaky Friday scenario for American culture as a whole.  Generally speaking, the dad is the butt of every joke, always the dumb, clueless buffoon who can’t tell his shoe from an antelope.  This is especially true in commercials and on popular television shows and a little less so in movies.  It makes for good comedy, sure, but–make no mistake–kids pick up on this and act and treat their own parents accordingly.

The same thing is done with daughters and their mothers but in a slightly different way.  The mothers (the ones who should be acting like grown, sexually active women) are flitting about in Winnie-the-Pooh or Mickey Mouse sweatshirts, cooing over things tweens and teens should be interested in.  Their daughters, on the other hand, have been given free reign since the age of nine to text, Google, wear, watch, tweet, or listen to anything they want.  What they want is to have the privileges of adulthood without the responsibility, and that inevitably expresses itself in a sexual way.

The not-so-much-a-conspiracy part of my argument is this:  Who gains from this role-reversal?  I can’t begin to point out all the possible answers to that question, but I believe it wouldn’t hurt to look in the profit margins.  Little girls, even more than boys, who are given a blank check to satisfy every whim are a target for companies who see a money-making potential.  More accurately, the wallets of the clueless parents are the targets.  If no profits were to be made from these things they would not happen.  To put it another way, if Americans changed their spending habits and chose not to shower their daughters with material things and opportunities best reserved for responsible adults, this behavior would at least decrease or be less visible.  And, yes, their attitudes and resulting material desires result from what they see in the people who they look to as role models and idolize.

As an aside I believe the official video of “We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus is far more alarming than the VMA performance, and this video represents exactly what I’ve been discussing in a dark, rather disturbing way.   The obligatory youth rebellion theme is prominent, albeit in a grammatically-deficient way (“We run things, things don’t run we”), but the mixing of the child-like and the adult is insidious.  View the video at your own discretion.

For those not inclined to subject yourself to the video, a verbal description is provided for your convenience:

Grill (the mouth type), weird facial contortions, smoke from a man’s nether-regions, writhing, eating a money sandwich, lip gloss, French fry skull face, tongue, more tongue, twerk, swimming pool, gum-chewing, more pool, combination writhe/gum-chewing, chopping off fingers and bleeding Peptol Bismol, dancing teddy bears, writhing, scary mask, writhe, tongue, teddy bears, mask writhe, exercise bike (physical fitness is always good for you), alphabet soup, twerk, exercise bike, pronouncement of how only “God can judge ya”, taxidermy, an awesome coat that would make PETA angry, a reference to getting cocaine in the bathroom, making out with a doll, pool, dancing, “U-C-K”, dancing that could be hard on the neck, more smoke from the nether-regions, pool, thumb-sucking, pool, tongue, lying on a bread bed, teddy bears, scary mask, teddy bears, unitard that is uncomfortable apparently, pinata filled with hot dogs (I think), twerk, teddy bears, really strange tongue, sunset or sunrise, “Dope” onesie, wrestling in pinata droppings, contemplating life’s deeper meaning in “Dope” onesie, tongue, writhing in world’s biggest shoes and gum-chewing, tongues, gold fingernails, Guinness World Record for ugliest image at end of a music video.

Picture from popdust.com

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/miley-gap/#comment-234598

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Writer’s World

I write.  I may be here, but I may not be present.  I am not always going to notice the things that other people notice or the things you want me to notice.  You may look at me and think I’m being unproductive, but I’m actually hard at work.

And I work hard.  I don’t romanticize what I do.  I write sentences and I re-write sentences, hoping to end up with something that appears as though I have crafted sentences.

Please forgive me, my friend, if I don’t remember birthdays or notice your new hairstyle.  I hope you can look past my failure, dear family,  to clean up behind myself or to be a normal parent.

But I do notice things.  I realized, dear friend, you changed your hairstyle when you brushed your hair to the left side of your face, and as you did your white, manicured nails fell beside your ear where big rings of silver dangled, landing finally on the side of your tanned neck.  I meant to compliment you on your hair, but I forgot to mention it once I was distracted by the mosaic of white, silver, smooth, blonde, and brown that was happening around the area of your left ear and upper neck.

Please don’t think I consider my work noble.  I write not because I am trying to save the world.  It is the moments of life in this world I want to save.

I overhear a child say something that could mean one of a million things.

There is a cupboard in the corner of the antique store that is at the breaking point with its stacks of porcelain plates, but one plate looks out of place.  I can’t move on to the next area until I find out why…or at least create a reason why.

A thought occurs to me about truth, about existence, about life.  It is so beautiful, so important, that I have to stop time and put it on paper before it disappears forever.  And I can’t betray the profundity of the thought by messing it up with my words, the way I do so often.  I must sit here and keep going so that you and everyone else can see the heart-stopping wonder, pain, grace, horror, loveliness, and aching that is this world where we live.

Football and Quantum Physics: Spooky Sports Action at a Distance

I wrote an e-mail similar to what’s below to my daughter last football season, but it seems especially appropriate today with Tebow’s departure from the NFL:
Sports these days is becoming a sore subject.  I am at once happy and sad about Peyton’s success on the field Monday, as I also am concerning the Jets’ win.  If I were the type of person to appeal to a sports deity I would definitely say he/she has some sort of controversy with me right now.  Not believing in the power of my fan-dom in the first place in that it has any effect on the outcome of games or even who is put into the game for longer than two snaps, my inclinations are only confirmed in the fact that NOTHING is going the way I would choose in the perfect JJ Stone’s-World-of-Sports scenario.
I should have seen this reality rising to expeditiously smack me in the face since in that very same world the following truths exist:  I run marathons; John Elway’s team never wins; Michelle Beadle is on SportsNation;  Tebow plays quarterback, free safety, kicker, special teams, coaches, and announces every football game, although I’m beginning to tire of hearing how he’s wanted to be quarterback since he was a little boy; I have a black belt in karate or some other Asian-sounding thing; you go to the Olympics in boxing but none of your blood is ever spilled forth from your beautiful face; child #3 wouldn’t have a torn ACL; child #2 would still be playing baseball; Daddy would admit that I’m better than him in basketball.
So you see, I’m in quite a quandry.  My biggest sports “victory” this week was that child #3’s fantasy team pulled out a come-from-behind victory going into Monday Night Football with Eric Decker’s good game for the Broncos.  His bench outscored his starting lineup because he benched Aaron Rodgers accidentially (who had 39 fantasy points) and played Andrew Luck (who had a whopping 5 fantasy points).  This all begs the question….when your greatest satisfaction in sports for the week can be attributed to your son’s fantasy team victory, how many standard deviations from reality does that make you?  Sports inhabit the entertainment realm in the first place, and now we have fantasy sports on top of that?  With all these extra dimensions of reality maybe string theory is truly that unification model physicists are searching for.