I'd like to apologize to Miley Cyrus on behalf of All Adults.
I know this seems grandiose, or inappropriate, but I'm going to do it, anyway, because I see people issue class-size apologies all the time, plus this is my blog and stuff.
Now, this next paragraph is so blindingly obvious, so stunningly simple, I almost deleted it. But then, I told myself, apparently it's NOT so obvious, because we, you know, don't do it:
Adults are supposed to protect young people. Adults are supposed to refuse to treat young people like little gods, put them on pedestals, and parade them on stages. But adults do it, anyway, and our culture is just dumb, and just numb, enough to act like it's perfectly normal. Turns out, as we've always known, celebrity messes with people's heads, particularly the young.
A few years ago, I remember talking about this on my radio show.
Me: I'd never, ever let my kid be a celebrity. And not because of a few anecdotes, but because it messes with their heads, teaches them narcissism, and skews their view of the world.
Callers to the show: But Brant, a good Christian family can raise a celebrity. And kids NEED great role models from strong, Christian families, like, you know, the Cyrus family, or the Biebers, and...
No, actually, kids don't need other kids as role models.
Kids need adults.
And adults are supposed to step in before their children, say, inhale poison. But, as safety-obsessed as we are, we won't do that. So kids, we've polluted our cultural atmosphere - now take a long, deep breath. Just make sure to wear a helmet.
We're supposed to step in, too, before you humiliate yourself imitating our own sickness. We're supposed to say things, impossible-sounding things, like "No." We know you're not going to like us; but we're adults, and adults protect. Kids need adults.
But kids might even want to be celebrities! They might even like the attention! - but kids need adults. Adults who say, "This is not what life is about, and we're not doing this." This isn't a pile-on for the Cyruses, by the way. Miley's father has already voiced his deep regret. Honestly, I feel horrible for him. I simply can't imagine much more humiliating, for a father, than... whatever... that... was... on the VMA Awards. He's already said what I'm saying: His daughter's celebrity was a horrible mistake.
Am I making excuses for a 20 year-old? Maybe. Or maybe just explanations. I think, were I a child celebrity, I would have a profound lack of perspective, too.
Miley's just doing what she likely suspects she needs to do in her business: Shock people. She's grown up watching, say, Britney writhe with a snake on the very same awards show, so it's hard to blame her if she's surprised by the universally negative reaction. She's doing what she thought we wanted.
The problem, this time, is that our society feels like it knows her, knows her backstory, knows she's someone's daughter, and isn't able to forget it. Other women, like the ones on stage with Miley, the ones no one is complaining about? Well, we can sexualize them, reduce them to toys lacking a story, but this girl? We know her dad!
Kids don't need more kids. They know plenty of them. Kids need adults, actual adults, adults adult enough to reject a culture that is so bored, so dead, that it can only feel alive if given one more jolt, one more shock. And it's hard to shock, anymore, but Miley hit that mark.
MTV has largely been about sex since its beginning, and Miley's performance was almost a brilliant parody. It was a beautiful young woman, very scantily-clad, parading in front of millions, and it was... well, repulsive.
Which brings to mind what Mike Yaconelli once wrote, "The more pagan a society becomes, the more boring its people become." And I, for one, can't help but notice:
MTV, you're doing the near impossible. You're making sexuality seem boring.
Anyway, adults aren't supposed to make kids into celebrities. We're not supposed to let kids just "follow their dreams" without regard to how foolishly tragic said dreams might be. We're supposed to step in. If other grown-ups are creating a toxic cultural atmosphere (uh, no Britney pun intended) we're supposed to at least inquire about the emotional health of those grown-ups, while separating you from them, until you're older and wiser.
But we didn't. Now, after handing you the keys, the car, and a cliff, we stand around and wonder, "Wow! What happened? What a strange girl."
Kids need adults.