Last Wednesday I went onto Twitter and everything I read was about Ariel Castro: “Cleveland Kidnapper Found Dead in his Cell.”
And I cringed, because I’d rather not read about how a man killed himself with a bed sheet in his jail cell; in fact, I’d rather not read anything ever about a man who attempted to destroy the lives of innocent girls turned women. A man who makes parents everywhere fear the safety of their children and put overprotective practices into force. A man who did something so horrible it’s almost unfathomable. And here he is now, trending on Twitter, right below #HappyBirthdayBeyonce.
Suddenly Ariel is no longer just the little mermaid, and Castro isn’t just a former president of Cuba; together these words connote something much darker, and together these words have become infamous.
And maybe it’s naïve to ask why, but I’m asking it nonetheless.
What’s the point of celebrating his death, and in turn making his name known, when we could be instead celebrating the lives of the survivors?
We could be celebrating the lives of any survivors: from kidnapping victims to cancer patients. From sufferers of depression to addiction. Our world is crawling with survivors, but all we want to talk about is the evil. Or Miley twerking.
And I’m asking again: why? Why are we so obsessed with evil? And with Miley twerking?
If you haven’t seen Miley’s Video Music Awards performance, you’re not missing anything, aside from maybe an acute understanding of today’s “troubled” youth.
The quick-to-go-viral video didn’t just receive some backlash, it sent the Parents Television Council, and the country as a whole, into a frenzy. The day after the VMAs aired, Miley Cyrus was the only thing the Internet wanted to talk about.
Then the controversy around the performance became controversial, because why were we all harping on Miley, but not Robin Thicke, who played his part in the performance? Because Thicke is married? Because he has a child? Because he’s just an innocent guy who got dragged into Miley’s antics? (Doubtful. I mean, have you seen the “Blurred Lines” video?) Or maybe it’s because Robin Thicke didn’t used to be Hannah Montana.
Miley can claim all she wants that it’s not her job to be a role model to children, but I beg to differ. Her paychecks aren’t signed by Disney, but rather by the parents of children who wanted Hannah Montana dolls, season DVDs or Halloween costumes. So do these parents have a right to be angry that the leader of the crop top trend, Miley, just exposed their children to explicit imagery far beyond their years?
Miley is screaming (and/or singing) at the top her lungs: I AM AN ADULT. TREAT ME LIKE AN ADULT. The noise of Miley’s antics are construing the message we should be hearing. Singing about cocaine and ecstasty doesn’t scream adult to me. What I’m hearing is that she needs an adult. But instead of letting her disappear to get the help she needs, we keep pushing her to the top of a pedestal where any breakdown she may have can be witnessed by all.
In not so appropriate words, Miley has admitted that she’s messed up– that she’s had a messed up life. Performing, to her, is evidently like a form of therapy, but why are we entitled to witness this? Until the days of reality television, listening in on someone’s therapy session was pretty unheard of. There was this thing called confidentiality. Privacy. A personal life.
Our conversations about Miley aren’t springing out of concern for her or concern for the generation that’s being influenced by her; no, we’re talking about her because she’s an easy punch line for a joke. And maybe that’s the punishment you get when you go on national television wearing nothing but a barely-there plastic “outfit.” But is it really a punishment?
After the performance, everyone was talking about how Miley’s management must be furious and her PR must be working double. Really? Did Miley just sneak past her management when she booked this gig? Doubtful. Miley is getting what she wanted. Attention. Twitter followers. Views on her psychedelic “We Can’t Stop” video.
Miley wanted to make history, and because we all can’t stop chattering about it, she did just that. She’s not going to stop her crazy behavior because she’s getting exactly what she wanted: attention.
It’s a journalist’s job to report the news, I know, but just because “twerking” was added to the Oxford Dictionary, doesn’t mean it’s the only thing we can talk about.
Is our world so sad and shallow that our conversation topics have to alternate back and forth between evil acts and crazy celebrities?
I like to think not.
But I also think that the media gives us what we want. And as long as we’re asking for the sad, shallow and evil, that’s what we’ll get.
We’ll see the photo of terrorists on the covers of magazines, and we’ll watch the names of murderers spread like wildfire across the blogosphere. Can’t we assume though that like in the case of Miley, we’re just giving them what they want—infamy.
So this morning I deleted perezhilton.com, a site that I shamelessly procrastinate on, from my browser, and instead decided to spend my time reading about more productive and happy things. Was it easy to do? Embarrassingly enough, no.
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, sometimes even travel around the world looking for it.”
I think the same goes for positivity.