Why I Love Miley Cyrus: A Dad’s Attempt at Advocacy

Sharing is nice

“Following the broadcast, which again enjoyed huge ratings, Elvis was burned in effigy by angry crowds in Nashville and St. Louis. The popular press was also critical of his style and movements. Rock and roll was increasingly attacked and there was growing opposition to its supposedly negative influence on America’s youth. The more the establishment pushed back, the more Elvis’s support grew from millions of teenagers.” –EdSullivan.com

imgres-1

Now if the blog title doesn’t say all you need to know, I’ll put it plain: I’m not a Miley Cyrus “fan.”

Actually, I’ve just become more of an obsessed groupie.

What else would you call a dad who suddenly saw from the other side of the screen what parents have always seen and feared?

Up until a couple of days ago, we were the family who dissed Hannah Montana. She was right up there with WalMart, McDonald’s and minivans. Anything flaunting such shameless corporate branding had to be evil, right? I’m pretty embarrassed about this image-consciousness, this deep fear of being judged as “low class.” But woop, there it is.

Cynical cool hipster parents were we, or at least what we wanted to be, so it isn’t without a bit more shame-face that I have to admit to being really personally offended by Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs.

Who even knew the VMAs still existed?

The stills from the performance are enough to make any parent crazy. Where’s one of those MIB memory erasers when you need one?

But maybe you recall an artist who calls himself Eminem.

And when someone did this.

Then there was that other thing that happened and this and that and oh yeah, this.

And are we not entertained? 

images-1

I just read that “it is when we deny our bodies and refuse to embrace our flesh that we become broken.” How poignant and true for us here.

And maybe offended isn’t the word, really. It’s more like aggrieved. Grieved, honestly, that’s how I felt. And as I watched it on the replay at whichever news outlet was running the clip on constant loop for our naval-gazing society to tsk at, I just kept thinking She’s right. Doggone it, she’s seen through us and she’s 100% right.

It’s not a new statement she’s making. Our confused moral standards are continually being pointed out and challenged. George Michael made a statement about his supposed “offenses” and defending his “freedom” with his album titled “Listen without Prejudice” back in 1990.

If we took the time to listen, could we hear what Miley’s saying? Maybe we are afraid. Whether she’s right about us being jealous hypocrites or not, we do get pretty uptight and afraid.

I think she’ll be fine. Enough people have found a way through the public eye. But I still want to hear her and face what she brings up:

Authenticity.

It’s what I’ve dedicated my life to. It’s why I’ve always been a misfit in the Christian culture, the one that requires certain things to ensure it’s safe before considering whether its biblical. It’s why I’ve been branded a misfit. I don’t gain acceptance or approval in the safe crowd, the one not talking about drugs, and sex, and the fact that abuse and rape are scandals the church covers up, and everyone knows some folks who prefer to stop their ears and sing, “be careful little ears what you hear.”

So be it. I’m gratefully disillusioned.

And now as a dad, I’m not giving up on Miley. I can’t. A kid her age is just being who she’s been made into and if she’s going to finally learn to sing like herself, she needs advocates, not stone-throwers. She’s not being this way just to be offensive. She’s not being selfish to get a rise. Though it may certainly look like a nice side benefit and no one on “team Cyrus” is sad about the album sales spike this will cause.

But look how offended people can get! It can be really funny.

images-2

The trouble lies in the one taking offense. I love the word “umbrage” because it conjures exactly that big, throat-clearing chin-wagging scowl we’re all doing. We have got to fight past moral outrage if we want to save our kids. But the problem is, when we’re offended, we’re blind to it.

I wasn’t going to talk about Miley Cyrus because, come on, if we’re scandalized, get the kids off the Internets already. I knew my opinion (we all know what opinions are like) would offend, dismay, concern, and basically freak out many people who want such things back in the box. But Miley’s not going back in the Disney box, folks. And from that angle, her VMA performance was refreshing. If there was any doubt about what she was doing up there, let the “poor, misguided” thing speak for herself.

But oh, the humanity!

What did we think the song “We Won’t Stop” is about?

“It’s my mouth, I can say what I want.”

“It’s my body, I can do what I want.”

Let’s maybe consider why’s she even saying this. Pause and think about it. Is she saying it to God? Who’s she saying it to?

Maybe we shouldn’t be so quick to condemn someone to hell.

Do I wish she had a better way of expressing that? Of course. Do I feel it’s my duty to tell her? Of course not. What is my duty here?

The video has 160 million views in just over 2 months and it’s garnered the most even split between thumbs up and thumbs down you’re likely to ever see. So I’m going to be willfully me on this one and say what everyone’s thinking: boy, it’d be nice if everyone could be that free in their own private space. But the truth is, we know better. We’re older now and while we know Holden Caufield eventually grows up and realizes it isn’t just his body and his mouth but his wife’s and his kids’ and his boss’s and his mortgage’s, whoever thinks pop music should celebrate any of that is smoking Molly. (I don’t actually know what that means.)

Go ahead and shoot the messenger, but I’m both the strong-willed rebel and the shy piano player, and I have to deal with both so I hope you can too.

America, come on. You’ve seen this kind of thing for so long! Have you forgotten how much of a thrill they get shocking you? You put people in boxes and then whine when they lash out. You cover your mouths while being secretly jealous, angered that someone still knows what it’s like to feel so uninhibited and alive. The devil’s rock n’ roll doesn’t fry kids’ brains, it fries parents’ brains.

What do we think Reality TV is about? They’re showing us we’re all hypocrites and we like it. Tori Amos, Trent Reznor, Madonna, Marilyn Manson, Avril Lavigne, Lady Gaga have all tried to get you to face this. And as a PK, I’ve got to apologize for my position on this because when I felt judged, I didn’t need someone to point out my sins, I needed someone who understood the anxiety and anger of being judged. Arguably, many rock stars have imploded under the pressure, including the King of Pop. Some have killed themselves. Others have become sad imitations of their once relevantly-polarizing acts. We all know it’s the lack of a dad, a lack of love, a lack of seeking how God sees us, and yet what do we throw at them? Disapproval, dismay, outrage, pity, and all sorts of unhelpful words that only increase their awareness of the impenetrable cage around them.

And we wonder why it keeps happening?

So don’t take offense. Let’s leave that pointless offer on the table. And instead of picketing or boycotting, can we grow up and realize that our reactions create the behavior we don’t like and that our attitudes reveal what’s in our hearts? Someone’s got to be the adult, the bigger person, the more loving one, and I think that begins by being big enough to look on this creation and this world as it is with compassion, in all its beauty and horrors, its stink and sacredness, its filth and its fullness, its decay and majesty and for once and for all say,

I LOVE YOU. I see you. I embrace you.

Can we? Oh, let’s stop talking about it and do it! Let’s stop trying to be okay with this and do what we know was done for us.

I believe the fate of our own souls lies in the balance.

Sharing is nice

7 thoughts on “Why I Love Miley Cyrus: A Dad’s Attempt at Advocacy”

  1. Whew- Mick, you said a mouthful. And after viewing the clips over the last few days of Miley, I saw an eyeful. I haven’t really been following her after she left Disney. My girls and I watched Hannah Montana all the time, and we love “The Climb” too.

    My reaction to the eyeful, is a pit in my stomach. A lovely young woman, brimming with talent and heart- flipping off the world- or Disney, or her Dad, or God, I don’t know who. Maybe it’s the rebellion that she’s been saving up- the kind that every kid is supposed to do in the safety of a loving familial relationship- except that rebelling would mean breaking a contract, and it would be in front of millions of people. Adolescent kids are supposed to get that rebellion done at home, where the consequences are relatively light- grounded from the car, and from the school dance, etc.
    So, maybe she’s doing it now. Now, Miley’s rebellion is branded, sponsored, filmed and glorified. She’s got a lot of resources to self destruct.
    So like yours, my reaction is parental. I’m sad as if one of my daughter’s friends was about to self-destruct and we just had to watch it happen.

    So what can I really do about it, anyway?

    First, and maybe the only thing, is to handle Miley Cirus with care when talking to my daughters. Because when they see what she’s doing now, my reaction will be paramount. Maybe they’ll see her antics as admirable. Maybe they’ll secretly envy her freedom of expression. Maybe they’ll like her stage clothes, her make up and her shoes. It would be a mistake to shame them for thinking she’s attractive, or appealing, or even admirable. It would be wrong to shame them for finding Miley’s new gig interesting, and addicting, in a pornographic sort of way. I’ll have to work hard at not shaking my head, and saying something like, “How truly revolting!” Not that I don’t think Miley’s new gig is truly revolting, because I do. But if I judge her as revolting, my daughters will internalize my judgment into themselves.

    A part of all of us identifies with Miley’s new gig. My daughters may identify with the attractiveness of her uncensored, unrestricted expression of sexuality. If I judged Miley with my words, my girls would undoubtedly eat that judgment as their own- why? Because they identify with her.

    So I’ll probably say something like this to them, “She has no idea how special she really is.” And something like, “I hope to God, that you do.”

    I don’t mean to hijack your blog, Mick! Your post sparked something.

    1. Michelle, I think we could all use a bit MORE of your wisdom. YES. Exactly that.

      Judgment is the pernicious stink in the sauce. I hear her loud and clear saying, “judge this!” Who has created this atmosphere of condemnation if not do-gooders with the mistaken idea that it’s up to any of us to save someone from something they don’t deem destructive?

      A friend of mine says the knowledge of good AND evil leads to death and I see it there in the desire to do good which is actually evil. Right motives don’t automatically lead to right actions.

      I want to DO something, but that, I recognize, can lead to more problems if I’m not patient and waiting on higher wisdom.

      Thank you for helping me think this through more. Love your mind!

  2. This is so much more in line with my thoughts on the Miley-VMA-apocalpyse than the open letters to her I’ve seen. What I saw on that stage definitely did not look like a cry for help. That girl is not lost; she is unrestrained and rejoicing in it. I have no idea what her motivations might be. I don’t know if she has that Beyonce/Sasha Fierce thing going and actually doesn’t live anything like the show she was putting on. I don’t know if maybe she does live like the show she was putting on. It just doesn’t matter. She doesn’t care about our wrath – except that it brought the desired attention – or our pity and definitely not our preaching.

    We are hypocrites, it’s so true. And I think you nailed it with the “secretly jealous” thing, too. Truly, don’t we all want to be that uninhibited? I certainly do. And we are – that’s the beauty of it – we’re totally, completely free. How we use that is up to each and every one of us. Let’s not waste our freedom, judging hers.

    1. Serenity! Great to see you. You sound like someone who understands being judged. And in that case, I hail you, my sister in the wounds. ;)

Discuss...