Jim Geraghty sums up two of my favorite hobby horses: the loss of any sense of age-appropriateness when it comes to sexual content and how boring & predictable it’s all become. Nothing will make me yawn as much as yet another cliched attempt to shock the bourgeoisie. Wanna impress me as an artist? Fling feces on the Prophet Mohammed instead of Jesus.
A Few Words About the Birds, Bees, and the Boring, Clichéd Miley Cyrus
Permit me to offer a criticism of Miley Cyrus one notch off from the consensus.
Yes, it was tawdry, sleazy, grotesque, debauched, wince-inducing, exploitative, horrifying, gross, slimy . . .
It was also . . . clichéd.
Come on. We’ve seen this schtick before. Madonna. Britney. Janet Jackson’s breast at the Super Bowl. Heck, it looks like Miley used the same backup singers as that infamous halftime show.
Yes, people like sex. It’s how all of us got here. It’s a very big part of Hollywood’s formula for success, and it is the primary subject matter of a big chunk of the Internet. (I see the Huffington Post is starting to slack on its wardrobe malfunction coverage.) Pop stars have traded on their sex appeal since Josephine Baker, Jean Harlow, Mae West, Bettie Page . . .
But our music industry has built, and refuses to stop using, a paint-by-numbers conveyor belt designed in the 1990s: Find some cutie, cast her on a show on the Disney channel; then as she hits the teen years, move her to slightly edgier teen programming and an album full of songs about love that might kinda-sorta allude to sexuality. After she’s 18, put her on the cover of Maxim, and then showcase every legally-permitted bit of flesh in a big debut on MTV’s Video Music Awards. It’s as if some sinister Powers That Be have decreed “ordinary” grown-woman sexiness — take your pick: Dolly Parton, Susanna Hoffs, Chrissy Amphlett, Shakira — is now insufficient, and that really sexually exciting material requires a starlet whose previous work is still in reruns on the Disney Channel.
This phenomenon marries two of our culture’s worst traits — the reduction of people to objects and the celebration, worship, and obsession with youth.
I could go on for hours about the negative side effects of the blurred lines — no pun intended — between images of girlhood and sexual images, and the societal train wrecks that ensue when you start defining the prime years for sexual attractiveness as comparable to the age range of the prime years of an Olympic gymnast.
But allow me to speak to the self-absorbed, image-obsessed Masters of Our Popular Culture in terms they can understand: Eventually, even you will age out of the ‘young, sexy, hip and exciting’ demographic.It’s in everyone’s interest if attractiveness can last beyond the year when you’re old enough to rent a car by yourself, because most of us are going to reach that age. (Some of us might even like to think that bloggers can remain dashing and attractive beyond their late 30s.)
Wrap it up for me, Ace: “It’s like a Super Bowl halftime show if the two teams vying for the championship were the San Francisco Schizophrenics and the New York City Exhibitionists.”