You had a tough week or so. This will all be forgotten soon. We have a situation in Syria. But, here are some closing thoughts before the fallout fades from the headlines.
Yes, it was the VMAs. Things were expected to be shocking. Yes, you both wanted to make history.
We get that. You both wanted to get people talking. So, let's talk.
Here's the problem: It seems you don't think anything about this "Blurred Lines" cycle is a big deal. You are a husband, a father, and appear to be a decent man. However, harm isn't always caused by people with the intent to injure. Harm is often facilitated by people indifferent and complacent to the negative culture to which they contribute. To be fair, it's certainly not just you doing this. But, what happened was very striking and worth discussing.
Let's recap your inadvertent, albeit major contribution to rape culture.
Recently, Justin Timberlake took some heat for his work. He admirably apologized for how his new song "Take Back the Night" affected survivors and activists.
Justin promptly showed class and empathy. You haven't yet, but many are hoping you will.
There is a masculinity crisis in this country. Through every stream of media it is reiterated that male power equals domination, ownership, and exploitation of women and girls. Female empowerment only seems to exist in some type of hyper-sexualized extreme. Women are still not seen as whole human beings with sexual, spiritual, and intellectual dimension.
Miley is shedding the limiting good girl image and speeding to the other extreme. We don't have a culture yet where women and girls can exist freely in a whole and complex way. Is this dynamic anything new? No. Are you responsible for it? No.
Are you contributing to it? Yes.
From the song to the performance, you played the extreme card this year when you didn't have to. Misogyny is still common in pop and hip-hop. It was peculiar that you jumped on the bandwagon of exploitation, because you seemed to be better than that. I'm guessing it was fun for you to create a persona. Yet, that persona is very upsetting for those of us battling misogyny and date rape in this complicated culture.
Basically, if the role model dad is going to perform these songs, then sadly our uphill battle just got steeper.
Your life as a devoted family man is something to be admired, respected, and emulated. Curiously, you seem to want to run in the other direction from that beauty. As an artist, it is understandable to play with your image. With respect to the song, did you need to create a persona indicative of an entitled frat boy using date rapey antics to impress his buddies? If so, then why? It was neither interesting nor sexy.
It was lame.
With respect to the performance, I'm not saying Miley necessarily was a victim. But, when comparing, you appeared to know better. You took advantage of some pretty obvious immaturity. You're a grown up, she is figuring herself out. When she is 10 years older she'll understand how maybe that wasn't the artistic precedent she wanted to set for herself.
But, what will you do?
What if you had a daughter and she decided to become a singer just like you? What if some insecure crooner in his late 30s wants to feed this faux persona and solicited her to pull a Miley onstage with him? How would you feel?
How will you explain this to your son if you have the talk with him about respecting women? Will you have that talk with him? Will you unknowingly teach him to say "I know you want it" to a girl who may not want it? Or will you teach him to ask, "Hey, is this okay with you?"
I hope you can step out of your New York/Los Angeles industry bubble and think of the message your work sent to the average viewer. It didn't make you look cool. It made you look creepy and insecure. If in your next public appearance you express compassionate awareness of what rape culture is; it would speak volumes. It would be even more compelling if you acknowledged how your recent work accidentally contributed to it.
Macklemore gave a stellar performance and had something brave to say to say about homophobia in our culture. What did you have to say exactly?
If you really want to dress up like Beetlejuice and croon like an immature frat boy, could you at least edit the lyrics and dance with someone old enough to buy a cocktail?
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