This week I have been amazed at the combination of horror and self-righteousness in response to the gross performance put on by young pop singer Miley Cyrus during a televised music video award programme last weekend.
Days later outraged parents are still appearing on nationally televised talk shows expressing their shock and disgust.
Well, on the one hand it was shocking in its blatancy and certainly disgusting, I have to agree. But on the other hand I personally am kind of shocked that other people are so shocked! Good heavens people, what do you expect is going to happen in a society where sex has pervaded the lyrics of so many of our popular Top 40 songs in recent decades and where those explicit sexual acts are implied and more so in more and more music videos? We have been surrounded by this crap for years now with apparently little ability or serious interest in swinging the pop cultural tide in a more refined, less sexually explicit direction, so why the freak out now? Live television just seems more graphic in its sexual depictions without the air brushing and dim lighting of music videos.
Dear Miss Miley was simply acting out those lyrics and implied lifestyles in a lower class way than older artists like Madonna, who was not that classy in her sexual acting out to start with. Miss Miley was simply scraping closer to the bottom of a very deep barrel.
Last night I watched an interview with an outraged mom of a couple of younger teenaged girls. She was livid that her daughters had been subjected to that performance. She "wants her children to be able to listen to the music they love without having to see such a display". So, it is okay to listen to sexually explicit song lyrics as long as the kids don't also watch them being depicted on live television? Help me understand this. What is wrong with this picture?
We dress our little girls like budding hookers, we let them listen to sexually explicit song lyrics and the accompanying pounding music and yet we are outraged when a beautiful young woman humiliates herself on live tv by dressing like a hooker in full bloom and acting out the same lyrics our kids hear every day?
Sorry, but I am not buying our indignant reactions. We are just mad because in a sense we have "been caught out" in how we have been ignoring the influences of our kids' generation, hoping they would just all go away and not cause any problems for our own children. We have been caught with our own pants down around our ankles over the way we have allowed our kids to think and behave and be influenced by a lot of immorality in what they listen to and see on television. Now that we have been forced to admit we allow our kids a lot of access to pop culture we are embarrassed and responding like we had no idea pop culture has become so depraved, o me o my.
I think it is time we took a good hard look at ourselves as parents and stop taking the lazy way out, throwing up our hands in the face of how our immoral culture is effecting our kids and shrugging as if to say, "O well, what can you do, right?" There are some things we can do. I had my own struggles as a parent with the culture surrounding my son when he was growing up. Helping him understand what was going on in his popular culture of the day, how participating in its worst arenas could hurt him, was very difficult and not always successful. It always is for every generation of parents. I didn't do everything right, that is for sure, but to this day he realizes he has to consider what is helpful in his present culture and what is morally, emotionally and physically destructive.
Parenting is one tough job and I don't put down any parents as they try to struggle through the maze of outside influences on their own kids. However there is no point in maintaining an air of outraged naivety about what is influencing our kids these days. Few North American parents with a child over the age of 7 can say they aren't aware of what is happening to pop music and music television programming. Miley Cyrus hasn't done anything new or more immoral than what our kids hear and see every day. She has simply pointed out, like many a performer before her, how far down the Path To Tawdry we are allowing our children and ourselves to go.