Miley Cyrus controversy makes us question our values

By on September 3, 2013

By Sawyer Schmitt—

Throughout the week, we’ve had a few things going on in the world.For example, we discovered that chemicals were used to slaughter hundreds in the war in Syria, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, and more. Since this apparently rates as relevant news now, we also had Miley Cyrus’ fluffy-sex nightmare occur at the Video Music Awards, known as the VMAs. Would you like to guess which one of these events blew up on the internet? Which one generated ridiculous sums of money through ad traffic?

Not the story about major change in our country, or the mass deaths in Syria. No, it was the story of a deluded pop queen who managed to ruin the innocence of teddy bears by practically having sex with them and possibly every member of the audience as well.

CNN, a major news network that has been a household name for years, made this story of Miley Cyrus their front page article on their website. “The Worldwide Leader in News,” as CNN’s slogan claims, also included a few sub-articles and videos, getting viewers to jump from one page to the next, drinking in the drivel. And as tweens across the country clicked link after link, CNN watched the dollar bills stack.

I can’t begin to defend the act of placing this “event” above the other stories of the week. I can’t even defend them for paying attention to its blatant worthlessness, but what I can do is defend them from a logical standpoint. Money is the bottom line of the world today, and those videos had more ads stuffed in them than Billy Mays had under his beard, er, belt. The “shock and awe” articles had advertisement after advertisement coasting alongside of the text as it was read. From a purely economical stand-point, CNN took Miley Cyrus’ bear filled sex-capade all the way to the bank.

But the fact that it turned out so well for CNN doesn’t only reflect poorly upon them, but on us a people.  After all, someone was clicking all of those links titled “Miley’s Stunning Moves” or whatever other variation of those words you can think of that resembles superficiality and fake astonishment. As a society, not only did we watch a washed-up child star sexually harass multiple teddy bears, but we watched her do it again and again and again. And then we read about it. Then, we obviously had to look at the pictures of it. Afterwardscame the tweets.

We fed the gnarly machine of useless information—and I use that word in its lowest form, as this barely counts as information—until it was full to bursting. And the people that didn’t have an interest in it? Well, they were forced to, as every news company and Facebook status regurgitated it and force-fed it to every single one of us. All of this really amounts to me just wanting to ask something:

What has happened to our sense of priority and perspective?

This isn’t the first time important events have been overlooked while more trivial and vain things basked in the limelight. This was just so over-the-top that I felt such a profound sense of sadness for our country. We sit as a nation divided over many things: foreign policy, economy, those in office, gay rights, and many other things. So while these problems sit by the sideline, we have enough time to indulge in the meaninglessness of a hip-hop parade gone south. The world outside our borders is still forming, there are countries in civil unrest, there are people dying and there are people changing lives as this happens, and that’s not even mentioning what’s happening here. As a larger power in the world, I believe that it is our obligation and our privilege to take advantage of and use this information for the better. Yet we toss all of this aside to focus on the asinine?

What happened to the appreciation of art, philosophy, literature, moral upstanding and diversity? We have crafted stereotype after stereotype to avoid accepting other people and ideas today, but we revel in the tragic American tradition of glorifying incompetence under the guise of celebrating a fake individuality. This is a crippling and embarrassing problem, and it all starts at the rootswith the consumers.

We are the consumers, and we have to change ourselves and our children before this problem makes a mockery of our country. When was the last time you heard a child say, “I want to be the next Steven Hawking”? Showing our children the value of contribution to society makes them eager to do so, and each will do so in their own way. Individuality is not a bad thing; in fact, I believe it to be one of the most important aspects of being human. But when we take that idea so far that it flips on itself and begins producing clones of irresponsible role models, it loses its core value. I love that our culture can make fun of and speak openly about sexuality, but I find that tasteless representation and encouragement of gluttonous lust supersedes this beneficial ability. Reinforcing some traditional values does not equal loss of progress. We study history to learn from our mistakes, and I say it is time we learn from the ones we are making now.

I know that some people, possibly a lot, won’t care about my rant here, but I’m writing it for my classmates for a reason: We are the future. And as awfully cliché as it is, it’s true. We will have the chance to impact the world for the rest of our lives, and some of us will impact the next generation after ours through our children.

I believe we can instill a sense of perspective and a sense of pride. I believe that we can encourage open-mindedness, and that it will change our culture, our nation, and our world for the better. I believe that we can save our moral compass and inspire forward thinking. All it takes from us is time, passion, and the ability to aspire for better things.

 

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