With the world abuzz about Miley Cyrus, her tongue and her twerking, I’ve been thinking about all the Blurred Lines between who she is, what she does and what people are saying about both.
If the saying is true, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity,”
then Miley has excellent PR.
She is the toast and roast of the nation, the topic on every radio station and any day now, the cover of every magazine at the check out counter. Suffice it to say, we’re going to see a whole lot more of her bootie. This one’s come a long way from Butterfly Fly Away, from Break Out to her upcoming BANGERS.
I’m having a hard time getting upset with her, though.
Sure, her stage show offends and repulses and all that, but entertainment is a consumer driven business. We have kind of created this new Miley Cyrus.
We adored her when she was Hannah Montana, that pre-pubescent do-gooder who was so popular, she nearly became a Billionaire. The problem is that Hannah Montana grew up. She isn’t a pre-pubescent do-gooder anymore. Remember when that happened to you?
The point is, Miley is a young woman growing up in a really strange, almost artificial, world where her feedback loop includes us. Standing around being a twenty year old isn’t going to keep her on top in the business that you and I have created. Let’s face it, in 2013, a girl’s gotta twerk.
I think that Miley is doing what young adults do, exploring the blurred lines between who they used to be and who they are going to be. Since I write from a “churched” perspective, I feel that it’s alright for me to say:
Now is the time for the Churched to shut up and draw close.
No one is confused as to the content of her material. We don’t need to comment. We need to do what Jesus would do and draw close. The woman at the well lived life in the blurred lines between who the culture demanded a woman be and who she was, broken down by multiple failed relationships, probably at the hand of some loser men that used her and kicked her to the curb. Jesus drew close. Yeah, he told her who she was, but that was only so that she could move on and become who she was going to be. He got all up in her blurred lines.
Blaming an entertainer for being entertaining (even over the top) is like the Romans blaming gladiators for the Coliseum. To do so is to misunderstand entertainment as a completely consumer driven model.
Miley is growing up with her fans.
This should tell us something. I think she’s brilliantly keeping pace with her fan base. They are growing up, too. They are asking the same questions, surfing the same waters. Miley is staying relevant with them.
One of the really unfortunate and debilitating modernist hold outs is our need to make people stay the way they were when we first started to appreciate them. How many times in the church do we get angry with the youth because they aren’t acting like the children they used to be when they were in our Sunday School classes? As children grow up, be honest, we stuff them into smaller and smaller boxes – in an effort to make them…what? More like us.
And so we lose the twenty year olds, because you can’t become twenty in a box.
We have some things to learn from Miley.
1. When people grow up it’s messy, complicated and uncomfortable. It can even be unattractive. We can worry and sigh. We can blog and talk about it on our Youtube channels. But at the end of the day, we miss everything that way. I thought that grace was the art of drawing close to the unattractive things. What happened to that?
Jesus is the Kahuna of Blurred Lines. Not Robin Thicke’s version, but real gray areas where grace can make a real difference. Jesus was not afraid of blurry, he walked into it, he created it. The story of Levi is a case study on Jesus blurring the line so that someone could become who they were meant to be.
"Mile, if twerkin woulda been invented…. And I had a foam finger…. I woulda done the same thang you did." – DAD
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) August 28, 2013
When young people have questions about who they are, somebody has to answer them, to lead them. In this case it’s the machine behind Miley, telling her that a foam finger is good idea.
I think that if Jesus was at the VMAs he would have run it down like this:
Jesus: ‘Sup Miley?
Jesus: That was really interesting. What was your favorite part?
Miley: I don’t know. My swim suit was too tight and the guy in the Teddy Bear is a real perv. What was yours?
Jesus: I liked the part when you were the most yourself.
Miley: When was that?
Miley: Are you mad at me?
Jesus: I’m crazy about you. Not so much about the foam finger, though.
Miley: I know, but they gave it to me and I thought that if I didn’t use it being all crazy, it would just look stupid.
Miley: It was stupid.
Jesus: Hey! Want to go grab a $500 latte and talk about the dreams that make your guts twist all up? Hope that keeps you awake at night?
Miley: I can’t, I have this…thing.
Jesus: Cool. I’ll be here tomorrow and the day after that. Just remember, the person you are tonight, that’s who you are closest to becoming.
Miley: Everybody expects me to be somebody…
2. The Gospel used to be shocking and offensive. Every so often, maybe it’s good to be shocked and offended, so that we remember that the meaning of the message we submit our lives to needs to twerk the soul, more than a little bit.
Like all of us, Miley is on a journey. She needs encouragement and love that is safe and intelligent. And that makes her no different than the girl her age that lives next door. Or the one you work with. Or the one you sit next to on the bus. Or your waitress. Or your students.
Jesus raced into blurred lines. Not to affirm them, or condemn them for that matter, but to provoke a move toward a grace filled, redeemed and restored future.
I think we ought to do the same.
After all, we know everything there is to know about standing on the sidelines and criticizing.
How’s that been working for ya?