Friday, August 30, 2013

Twerking And The VMAs. Is It The Same Old Culture Shock Rewrapped in a Latex Bikini? by Christine Urbanek

Last Sunday, MTV aired their annual Video Music Awards show and the media hasn’t stop buzzing about it since. If you did not see Miley Cyrus’s “performance” with Robin Thicke, surely you’ve heard about it a hundred times or more by now.

The scenario: Miley clad in a latex, nude-colored bikini, donning an oversized foam finger and thrusting out her tongue in an odd, seizure-like stabbing motion against a backdrop of childlike imagery. She gyrated and slammed into her foam finger and singer Robin Thicke who, in exchange, sluttily rubbed himself against the 20 year old in a suggestive, pseudo-sexual choreography that left many incredulous.

But what is really going on here? And is this really new? Didn’t Madonna shock and disgust viewers writhing around in a wedding gown singing “Like A Virgin”? Doesn’t Lady Gaga continue to stun audiences with her ever-decreasing clothing and overtly sexual lyrics and dance moves?

For my money it is the same old thing, but with one VERY important difference and one we had better start paying attention to--our culture.

Today’s culture, especially with regard to young women, has changed to such a degree that it seems to literally encourage exhibitionism and self-exploitation. It now seems that as long as you are the one exploiting yourself, it’s ok. As long as you are able to grab the media spotlight, regardless of what that spotlight may highlight, you have achieved something. In fact, I would go so far as to say, job well done. It’s that old adage: it doesn’t matter what they’re saying about you as long as they’re talking about you.

These sorts of antics were generally thought of as bad taste and indicative of low self-esteem or even self-loathing, but not now. Someone trading off on the easy and vacuous for a quick stab at the limelight and a shallow existence is lauded. Talent is unnecessary. Art is superfluous. Sensation is where it’s at.

The list is long these days: Kim Kardashian (her family owes her dearly for that sex tape finding its way into the public domain and sparking off the tremendous goldmine that ensued for that entire family); Michaele Salahi (she and her now ex-husband crashed a White House party knowing they would garner global attention and seal a deal to become part of Real Housewives of DC); even wealthy heiress Paris Hilton gained fame and ridiculous popularity from a sex tape gone public landing her a reality series as well as a record deal.

So how do we affect change in an ever-changing culture that is numbing our senses, threatening our mores and leaving us with declining values? It starts at home. Educate. Talk. Don’t proliferate it by buying the rag magazines at the end of the grocery store aisle. Don’t watch vacuous reality shows. Do listen to what your kids are listening to. Do watch what they are watching. Talk to them about it. Teach them about consequences. In this age of internet immediacy and viral everything, let them know that care is needed when making choices because often times there are no do-overs and if you’re not paying attention, everything you thought you stood for can be gone in a moment.

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