A little over a week ago I was on one of my trips to or from work (can't remember which) and a song came over radio. It was a typical pop song that music elitist will instantly and snobbishly reject and criticize, before tossing out band names and artist that they know to be musically superior and untarnished by the trappings of commercialism. [These are also the people who proudly tout their hybrid vehicles or their outstanding gas mileage - proud of their green lifestyles – but never recycle...irrelevant and disingenuous...just joking...sorta]. The vocals surging through my speakers were raspy – or were they husky? – and with a slight hint of southern twanginess. And I have to confess I actually enjoyed the song and so I turned up the volume and gave the song a little more attention. Who was singing?...Miley Cyrus.
I was surprised too.
I can’t say I’ve never seen her show, because before my sisters were college bound they often left the family TV turned to the Disney channel. So I’ve seen parts of her show and of course I’m not ignorant so I’ve heard of her, but I couldn't’t really tell you anything. And despite my assumptions I was actually impressed.
From that point I’ve paid attention a little more, especially when I hear that she’s dedicating her youtube clips to Jesus and making other bold open confessions of faith (more than I can say for any previous pop princess…Jessica Simpson having a former Baptist youth pastor for a dad doesn’t really say anything in and of itself…)
I know my niece Halie loves her and I’ve perused the young girls clothing sections in search of Hannah Montana gear (not something I plan on doing again without a female buffer…you get strange looks from shopping mommas).
And because she’s been known for her strong role model status in a current culture dying of role model dehydration I’ve even prayed for her and her family, knowing that our media has a way of chewing up and spitting out individuals in pursuit of the all important American dollar.
So I find it disheartening today to find her having to apologize for indiscreet photos taken. I don’t make it a practice to post photos of topless 15-year-olds on this blog, but after some deliberation I assumed everyone who reads this probably has already seen it or would find it easily.
And I don't know who it is that I'm upset with. Miley for the poor choice. Her parents who were at the shoot and allowed the photo. Vanity Fair for printing/posting it. Or Annie Leibovitz for talking/coercing Miley into and taking the photo.
Now certainly these don't excuse her other mishaps on her myspace, but I don't seem to really blame her for having the naivety of a 15-year-old. She's making poor adolescent decisions much like every adolescent I know, her's are just made on a national stage.
I met another 15-year-old this week who told me that she was just coming back to church and that she had recently gotten herself into trouble. Later I found out that as her parents were going through a separation they found out that she was trying certain drugs and sexually active. So I'm not quite worried about Miley yet.
Personally I think the above photo isn't very attractive. To me the photo portrays Miley as one of Heath Ledger's Joker cronies from the new movie (the red lipstick I think). But I'm not stupid enough to believe that Annie Leibovitz, Vanity Fair and whoever else involved with the photo wasn't trying to sex up the Miley image no matter how many times they try to say it was an artistic attempt.
And this "artsy" attempt, at least to me and even in light of Annie Leibovitz's distinguished career, feels to be just as much exploitation as what the we have seen from a west Texas compound.
I feel like I'm rambling. I suppose what's tumbling and turning in my head tonight is that this young lady has some serious pressures in her life. And the students I interact with on a weekly basis are under the all kinds of pressures and expectations as well...
...and my only answer is to pray.
I'm not really sure what to pray for, but I'll keep on.