The singer Miley Cyrus, a person I normally pay very little deliberate attention to, is now back in the news as a freedom-of-expression cause celebre. For those of you who missed the MTV VMA Music Awards the other night, the little darling was wearing a latex flesh-colored bikini, tongue out, and was grinding against a 36-year-old singer named Robin Thicke, who is also someone not on my radar.
I did like his father Alan Thicke, though.
As we descend into what’s left of the First Amendment, the usual On The Right suspects were decrying this performance, which was occuring on one of the 998 Comcast channels that currently stream all sorts of pop cultural goo into my house against my better judgment. Even the most casual channel surfer can see that what Miley Cyrus was doing pales in comparison to what happens on the Final Frontier of the Upper Cable Channel Zone.
I try not to be too much of a cultural prude, being raised in the dripping depravity of the 1960s and 1970s and all, but I do have to say that if one tunes into MTV and sees that the Video Music Awards Show is on, one should not expect to see reruns of Mister Ed and Father Knows Best. I suppose that it’s true that it’s all a question of children being able to access this stuff, which they can do at will anyway, but going after a specific channel or program and wanting to somehow regulate it at this point seems fruitless.
Speaking of Fathers Not Knowing Best, Miley’s father, the country singer Billy Ray Cyrus (Achy Breaky Heart), sent out a tweet telling everyone to chill, and stop being haters, and it’s all cool, OK? Yeah. Since Billy Ray has engineered his daughter’s career since she was a child, of course she can’t stay Hannah Montana forever. Hannah Montana grew up to be a stripper and not a Franciscan nun. Surprise. What makes more money, Daddy Dearest?
As the father of a daughter (and two sons), I have always wanted to protect my kids from this kind of dreck, and it is dreck. Now that they’re in their twenties or almost, my kids are old enough to process this stuff and laugh about it, or enjoy it. Or not. They’re not 6 or 9, they’re old enough to vote. When my kids were growing up, I didn’t have any trouble regulating what was on cable television at all.
We got rid of cable for about 8 years.
It wasn’t so much that I was a stick in the mud, or afraid that they would put on latex bikinis, it was more that we thought that they would best be served by interacting with other children and toys and books. We did rent movies for them. The final decision on getting rid of cable wasn’t made because of anything they picked up that was untoward on MTV (the news broadcasts were happily replaying Bill Clinton’s Monica stuff, and one of my enduring childhood memories of my daughter was her at age 7 saying, “Listen to me, I did not…et cetera.” Yuck). We dropped cable because my NASCAR-obsessed 8 year old son said, “We can’t go ice skating. The Talledega 250 is on.”
The point is that there is an entire universe of things we can censor, and trust me, censorship is good thing.
I just want to be the one doing the censoring, not the government.
So if you see Miley Cyrus doing something you don’t like, turn it off.
Pop in a DVD of Hannah Montana instead, read a book, read The Sacramento Bee, or go watch the Talledega 250.
Now that we have cable again, my 25-year-old son recommends it highly.