Month: August 2013

Let’s Take Ownership, We Did This to Miley

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So I have, like many of you, read all the critical statements that many have been made about Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs this past weekend.  Yes, I saw the performance. Yes, I was not pleased nor was I entertained. But the truth is Miley Cyrus does not owe me anything.  I am not a tween, I am not her agent, I am not her parent and I am not her personal friend.  In fact, I am inconsequential when it comes to making decisions on how she will perform and what she chooses to do or say through her music.

But that is the problem.

I actually owe her.  I owe her because I am a person and consumer in this society.

I have been, like many of you, a passive consumer of her music. I turned the radio up when “Party in the USA” came on in the car and sang along.  In fact, when I am at the grocery store in the checkout aisle, I always check out her new hairstyle and come across articles about her personal life.  I heard about her as Hannah Montana and her crazed tween following. I think she is talented, smart and ambitious. In fact, I found her 2009 song, “The Climb”, to be so deep and insightful for a girl her age.  I saw and enjoyed all her positive contributions to my day. But like a passive consumer, I continued to see her positive contributions slowly transform into negative manifestations of  the pressure the music industry  was placing on her and did nothing about it. The first time I noticed this, is when she was performing for a kids show and dancing on a pole to her “Party in The USA” song.  At that time I thought to myself, “It has begun.”  Well, I should have done more than just reflected in private.

I am inviting young adults and mothers to stand up for our girls. It is really easy to knock someone when they are down. But attacking Miley Cyrus, Lindsey Lohan, Britney Spears and all other girls trapped in this music industry pressure is not the answer.  Miley Cyrus was a budding young talent who has been now degraded as an artist and the young intelligent woman that she is – on our watch.

I registered my four year old for a theater class this week. As I signed the registration form, I thought about how happy she will be learning new skills and exploring her talents. Our living room has been her stage for four years now.  I see Miley as that four year old. The young girl who loved performances, entertaining her family, talented and budding with skills. I can only imagine the vision and images she had for herself as a little kid. Herself on stage, surrounded by kids and adults who appreciated her.

I am sure, she never imagined herself half naked, with her body parts at the submission of her male counterpart’s penis in front of millions of people. When and how did this happen? Everybody hesitates in pointing fingers and corporate giants, but everyone is pointing to Miley. Wrong.

The VMAs spent millions of dollars in putting on a good show, with detailed rehearsals, the music industry including the producers, the agents, her co-male adult performers all knew what was about to take place.  And yes, the consumers who applauded, swayed and then just gossiped.  We are all to blame, both as passive consumers and those who profited from her.

Yes, Justin Timberlake is correct “It’s the VMAs. You know what I mean, like, it’s not the Grammys,” he said. “We’re talking about Madonna in a wedding dress humping the stage, we’re talking about Britney doing a striptease. This cycle is not uncommon.”  

We, as a society, have seen this cycle again and again and have accepted it. 

The predictable cycle is this: Get a young talented girl, develop her skills, fill her with pride, confidence and ambition. Appreciate her, make money off her and when she comes of age – put her in her place, let her fall from grace. Continue making money off her.

How many times are we going to see manifestations of our moral downfalls displayed back to us on the large screen before we realize we are all connected?  Before we realize that the dignity, respect and honor of every individual is our responsibility?

We allow young girls to fall from grace, we allow women to be treated like sex objects in the music industry and we feel we have the right to criticize the same young girls that need us the most.  

So what do we do? How do we prevent another future Miley from having to suffer this humiliation ( the totality of which she may not even comprehend right now)? We say something the minute we see it.

We write a letters, send tweets and reach out to heads of any consumer driven industry in this case music, to share our disapproval of not how Miley behaved, but rather how the adults around her let her perform for extra zeros in their paychecks.  We call on the male artists and elder artists to be bold, courageous and lead in their reactions when this happens so the next Miley can have a backbone behind her, not a slew of convenient critics.

We need to take responsibility of how we take our role as consumers and start demanding respect for our dollars. We have the power to demand better for others and ourselves.  Behind every corporation there is a person and in every consumer there is a moral compass. Let us reach for what we know as correct as a collective people not just our wallets. After all, what we choose to consume is also  a reflection of who we are.  Let us take a pause when we see an artist fall and do more than pity or criticize her.  Instead, let us show the artist what we think of her.  What we know she has the capacity to achieve. Greatness.   That is HER Place.

As I end this piece, I think back to “The Climb”, when Miley sings:

I can almost see it.

That dream I’m dreaming, but

There’s a voice inside my head saying

You’ll never reach it

Every step I’m takin’

Every move I make

Feels lost with no direction,

My faith is shakin’

But I, I gotta keep tryin’

Gotta keep my head held high

We should all help her to keep her head held up high.

Lastly, let us support our positive artists that lift us.  Here is a salute to all the supporters. I came across this song that I thought was perfect for this situation.