I’m annoyed with Miley Cyrus’ MTV Video Music Awards performance – but it’s not for the reason you might think. While her cringe-inducing “twerking” in a flesh colored rubber bikini was fodder for hundreds of internet memes and TV morning show outrage, I really wasn’t all that surprised – it’s MTV, home to Snooki, The Real World, and countless videos featuring nearly naked women prancing around rock stars and rappers. It was another of those awkward, eye-rolling MTV moments and I am sure that Cyrus is thrilled with the attention she’s received – after all, isn’t that what she really wanted?
An informal polling of my 20 year old niece and 16 year old neighbor revealed their indifference to Cyrus and her behavior – “She’s pathetic,” and, “She totally embarrassed herself – who cares,” they said. This is a generation that’s grown used to what the media deems outrageous behavior – as my neighbor’s friend said, “You can see worse stuff on [the social media site] Vine,“.
So why am I annoyed?
The watershed moment of the show was almost completely overlooked. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ gay rights anthem “Same Love” won the award for “Best Video with a Social Message” with an incredible performance featuring Mary Lambert and Jennifer Hudson (neither wore rubber bikinis or other bum revealing outfits but looked spectacular nonetheless).
This is the second time that a song supporting gay rights has won this category – Lady Gaga won two years ago for “Born This Way”. Could it be that this teen and twenty-something generation is more aware, more tolerant, and more accepting of LGBT people and different lifestyles in general than past generations have been? Hallelujah…it’s about time! Isn’t this the news we should be proclaiming – not the fact that another performer grabbed her crotch and gyrated on screen (um, hello, Elvis!)?
Let me clarify that I’m not a huge fan of pop music overall, but my 10 year old son is. Every time we get into the car he asks me to tune the radio to the Top 40 station – and Macklemore’s “Same Love” is one of his favorites. He raps the lyrics right along with the singer and mumbles over the ones that he doesn’t know. But more importantly, the song has opened the door to discussion about homosexuality, human rights, and how being cruel and hurtful towards people who are different than you can be can have disastrous consequences.
I hope some of this is sinking in – and I hope it sticks. This time next year he’ll be starting middle school – a time when hormones and machismo start to rear their ugly heads. And I remember my own middle-school days when sayings like, “That’s so gay” were casually tossed around. Although the saying had almost no conscious reference to homosexuality – thirty-five years ago, homosexuality was rarely, if ever, discussed with kids – but regardless of the intent, expressions like that can, and do, hurt – deeply – especially in the murky pools of adolescence acceptance and awareness.
Just as one generation of teens and young adults are unfazed by a former Disney-princess attempting to ditch her goody-two-shoes role (yawn, haven’t we seen this before?), perhaps another will naturally have a more tolerant and accepting attitude towards all people and be willing to speak (or sing!) out for their rights.
Until then, we can just keep talking (and rapping) for all our sake…because no child should be crying on Sunday.