Miley shows the world her roar!: In other news, brilliant local Time photojournalist featured at Butler Institute of American Art

Shock! Horror!
The entire world was brought to its knees this weekend by a controversial and groundbreaking performance by Billy Rae Cyrus’s daughter at the MTV Video Music awards!
Sex! Music! OMG!
The whole of the connected world was stunned, frightened, empowered and aroused by the sight of the feisty young lady, who used to be on a Disney TV show or something, performing her new song with suggestive and explicit dance moves!
She’s making headlines today, some saying that her performance gave all human beings between the ages of 8 and 80 an “Achy Breaky Heart”!
There was backlash from some groups — probably about the cynical sexualization of a former role model, or something.
I for one, (support/condemn) Ms. Montana for the performance. By expressing (her own/her record companies idea of what is her saleable) sexuality, she has shown the world — nay, the universe — that she is (an independent and strong person/a crashing bore) and that this year’s VMAs (belonged to her/were entirely redundant and irrelevant to the lives of most people).
What’s more… it’s a hard industry in which to… inappropriate… MTV… 2013…
Sigh.
I can’t do it. I can’t make myself care. I’m aiming for sensation, but I keep running into tepid indifference.
Maybe I’m out of touch. I mean, I am a bit older than the ideal demographic. It wasn’t meant for me, was it?
Let’s take a look at my weekend. On Saturday, I met with my bank manager to discuss mortgages. Later that evening, I rented “Hotel Transylvania” and watched it with my kids whilst eating Doritos — the ranch ones. I liked it just fine.
On Sunday, I went to an exhibition at the Butler Art Museum. The Butler is featuring the work of Time magazine photographer and Youngstown native John Wendle. Brilliant. You should check it out.
Oh, and I went grocery shopping.
So yeah, I probably am a bit out of touch with the “youth.”
I’ve been aware for a while that as the years pass, my perspective is slowly shifting further and further away from the bright-eyed optimism of my teens and twenties.
I miss the naiveté sometimes. It would be nice to go back to being sixteen and seeing the world as a playground again, with MTV as my guide to what was worth paying attention to.
But would my 16 year-old self buy into all of this? I’m not convinced. I think that even me at 16 I would have wrinkled my nose and called it nonsense. MTV taught me about Nirvana and Mudhney and, like, disaffected cynicism, you know? Whatever. MTV was raw then. It meant something, right?
And I’ve noticed a distinction between what I’ve read online about the Miley Cyrus performance and what people are actually saying about the Miley Cyrus performance. Google searches provide me with Sensational! Vapid! Headlines! but when I hear people speak about it in real life, the consensus is a shrug.
So was anyone really shocked by it? Or are we being told we are shocked by it?
There was a period of my life when music meant everything to me. I thought The Answer could be found in a Hundred Reasons lyric sheet, or a Dashboard Confessional chord change.
I thought I was aware of when I was being manipulated. I was suspicious when the TV told me to care about something that I thought was silly.
Here’s the rub. Despite my perceived integrity then, and my awareness now, I still buy into it all subconsciously. And so do you, probably.
Here’s why.
I should have been writing about John Wendle’s photography at the Butler, about his evocative, emotional portrayal of conflict that brought home some stark realities of violence and calm and survival in Afghanistan, a nation I will never see with my own eyes. But instead, I found myself writing about this.
My opinion is that I’m disinterested and embarrassed to be speaking about it. But that’s still having a conversation about it, no?
So I’m buying in, MTV. I’m talking about it. You win. I clicked on the video. I watched your ads and I watched your content. And, in the same way I watched your programming when I was a kid, I remain your greatest asset. Because whether I love or hate or am indifferent to the circus of your industry, I still watch and comment, which means that I’m still there when the ads roll.
Advertisers will pay a lot for that sort of attention.

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