Miley Cyrus: Ink Blot

Miley Cyrus, former Disney child star, turned in a shockingly slutty performance a few days ago at the Video Music Awards on MTV. Talk shows and cable news responded immediately. Some people are calling for censorship. Parents are outraged. Feminists are baffled. Celebrities are laughing.

Anaïs Nin once said, “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” That video is like a Rorschach test for America. If you didn’t see it, here’s a glimpse of the talent.

Here’s Miley advancing her career at the recent VMA Awards.

Miley is twenty years old

Here’s another shot for the family album:

Miley 2

On the Today show, Matt Lauer and Star Jones were trying to tell Mika Brzezinski that this is what girls think they have to do to make money and have a high celebrity profile, and that’s the saddest part of the whole thing. Mika, whom I like, was too busy ranting to hear that message, wanting only to have the performance banned or censored – I am not really sure of her point, she was so upset and everybody was yelling. I mean, it’s MTV. What did she expect?

Anderson Cooper posted a smirky essay about how boring Miley’s performance was, in that there was nothing new and she’s banal. Which is true but also kind of scary. What’s a girl singer going to have to do to get attention in the future? Film at the zoo?

Some were angry that nobody’s angry at Robin Thicke, that we’re all a little too quick to criticize Miley and not him. Okay, I’ll start.

What’s with the outfit, Robin? Channeling Beetlejuice?


Some people have expressed compassion for Miley, because she apparently was raised by wolves and doesn’t know any better. I was surprised to find many erotic photos of her on the web, going back a few years. Well, very few; she’s only twenty. But anyway, you’d think she was a porn star, not a little girl who sings.

Some have mentioned there’s a feminist aspect to this. That Miley is a grown woman, and she should be able to do what she wants with her body, even if what she does sets us back a million years. But then if we’re going for equality, I say Robin Thicke should be wearing a g-string instead of assuming the power position while Miley approximates Downward Dog.

In my opinion, which matters only to me, they’re both kind of trashy, but it’s what the public pays to see. I’m trying to think of what to tell my granddaughters. “Yes it’s true that in 2013, Miley Cyrus had a net worth of $150 million. She has yachts, houses, cars, and the very best in health care, but nobody respects her, and she is really a very sad person.”

I don’t want my granddaughters to grow up thinking society only values them for their girly parts, but if they manage to overcome that in this sick culture, it’ll be a miracle of good parenting.

As an Adult American, how do you see this?  What do you think?

X-rated Reasons I’m Happy to be a Boomer

It was never easy. Dating, having sex with a new flame, figuring out the protocols. Now there’s a new reason for being happy you’re old: you’ve figured out sexual navigation. Not like the kids. They’re all screwed up. In Frank Bruni’s latest column, The Bleaker Sex, he says,

Young women are trying to feel the whole liberation thing by having the same meaningless, indiscriminate sex as men have always had.

Bruni quotes Ms. Lena Dunham, director of a new HBO series called Girls:

…modern cultural cues exhort her and her female peers to approach sex in an ostensibly “empowered” way that she couldn’t quite manage. “I heard so many of my friends saying, ‘Why can’t I have sex and feel nothing?’ It was amazing: that this was the new goal.”

This is why we burned our bras? Okay, nobody ever really burned bras – that’s an urban legend – but I was hoping that Women’s Lib was about being true to yourself, not imitating men.

But to my point, and I did have one: Thank God I’m no longer young, and embroiled in the sexual turmoil of dating and all that follows. If you’re ever tempted to feel bad about being old, consider this: apparently, the abundance of high-def pornography is tricking the brains of young men into preferring their online “relationships” with porn stars over that of their girlfriends. A 41-year old lawyer, single, describes the shift:

I don’t like to believe that porn is replacing anything I have with my girlfriend,” he says, “but she asked me recently why she always has to be the one to initiate things. And she was right; I guess I’ve been fading from her. It’s like all that time with these porn stars was subduing any physical desire for my girlfriend. And, in some weird way, my emotional need for her, too.

Imagine being a young woman, intrigued by a new man, and finding out the first time in the sack that he’s overcooked rigatoni, and then your girl buddies tell you that it’s happening to them too.

It turns out that being twenty or thirty-something, with taut, smooth skin and thick hair isn’t enough. Now young women are expected to compete with porn stars.

Here’s what you’re up against, according to Bruni:

…the buffet of fetishistic porn available twenty-four-seven has made age-old sexual practices seem unexciting. Insufficient, somehow.

Every now and then you see a letter in the advice columns written by a lonely wife whose husband comes home from work and spends the evening in front of his computer screen, checking stocks. (That’s probably code for “pants around socks.”) He’s addicted to porn, the wife laments. How do you compete with that? In my day, porn was found in magazines, and later, the adult section of the video store. Men were happy just to have someone to go to bed with. Now they expect – well, I can’t say it. This isn’t that kind of column.

However, in researching this issue I learned that there are real men out there, guys who are sophisticated enough to know the difference between a real woman and the screen version. (I also bookmarked this website – it’s geared toward young men, so for me it’s like spying on the other side. Fun!)

So here’s my question: have you heard of this new preference of young men for digital girlfriends as opposed to the living, breathing, real thing? Do you think it’s just young men, or is it Boomers, too? What do you think?

The Zeitgeist as Depicted at an Airport Newsstand

I’m standing in the Cincinnati airport after a weekend with the lovely folks at Writer’s Digest (which writer, I wonder?) and I notice that you could do an anthropology paper from just reading the headlines on the latest magazines: Most of the women’s magazines are about  IMPROVING YOUR INADEQUATE SELF. Cosmo, of course, screams about sex (bad girl sex, the sexy ass workout, sexual panic, Megan Fox’s body). Then for the slightly older girls: “When He’s Turned Off By Your Body In Bed.” Honestly, does that ever happen? Then for the rest of the female demographic there’s Readers’ Digest, with the headline, “Don’t Be A Victim! Crime Fighting Tips That Could Save Your Life!” (I picture my 84-year old Mom flashing a Buck knife.)  Then in the Porn for Paranoids section: Time’s cover features “The Tragedy of Detroit”; Newsweek “The Mind of the Taliban” featuring the requisite hawk nose, unibrow over haunting dark eyes, and The Atlantic (“Torture…”) – calling my flight. Got to go.