Oh, Miley, Miley, Miley

4:10 PMHeather

I have a confession to make.  I can't decide how I feel about admitting this.  Or how you might either?  But I watched the Miley Movement special on MTV.  I simply wanted to hear from her.  Directly.  About what is going on here.  I wanted to quit making assumptions or listening to rhetoric.  I thought I'd hear straight from the horse's mouth. 

I'd love to say that it cleared it all up for me.  But honestly, it makes me feel even more conflicted about what is going on here.  So, I just thought I'd chew on it a bit with you, my dear bloggy friends.  I present to you my confused observations.  Perhaps you can help me to sort it out.

Obvious from the title, Miley wants a movement.  Not a transformation from child star to adult sensation.  No, she says.  Transformation is not the word.  Movement is what she wants.  What does this even mean?  When I hear movement, I think of big, huge, cultural changes.  The feminist movement.  The Civil Rights movement.  A title wave of change that gains momentum and impacts people and brings about new shifts in our culture.  But, the Miley movement?  She is sure about that word.  Yet, I'm not sure she is clear what she wants to move people to or from.  I found myself wishing she had more clearly defined her objectives.  I wanted to understand what her goals are.  It seems maybe she wants to move people to freedom of expression?  A push to be noticed?  An ability to keep up with the most sensationalized music moments of the past?

Because she talked about that, too.  How Britney Spears was her "person" she looked up to as a youngster.  How Madonna was the same for Britney Spears.  How she herself is "that person" for her fans.  That first album they bought.  That first singer that impacts young fans to the point of singing along and going to concerts. So, there are these huge TV moments she referred to with Madonna and Britney Spears that kept everyone talking.  Her VMA performance was such a TV moment for her, she hoped.  She said if she was going to be talked about, she'd rather it be for two weeks than two seconds.  

That made me feel sad.  [Yes, I know.  The irony.  As I am sitting her talking about her.]  I'm not exactly sure why I felt so sad.  I guess because I saw a young girl whose ambition was to be the topic of conversation.  Even if it wasn't positive or affirming.  She seems to want to be sensational and noticed.  For anything--it doesn't matter what exactly for.  And I believe that can be dangerous.  Attention seeking for the sake of attention is rarely a lasting way to make a name for yourself.  I felt as though I was watching a young lady strive to be remembered, to attain some level of pushing boundaries.  To keep up with or outdo those who have gone before her in the music world.  

And I wanted to whisper to her--"That's not real.  That fame and stage and glitz and glamor and magazine covers and being the butt of late night television jokes.  Honey--that's not real.  That never lasts. That's not even you.  That's just what you did."

But, she insists that she has never felt more like herself than now.  She talked about all the years she was told how to dress, what to do, what image to portray, what song to sing.  Now, she seems bent on making her own rules.  This all seems to be about taking control and shoving it in the face of whoever told her what to do in the past.  As if to prove herself. 

And I want to pull her aside and tell her.  You don't have to prove yourself.  You have God given talent.  You have a voice.  An influence.  You've been given a stage.  Don't choose to exploit them.  And don't think you are no longer being exploited.  Because you are.  Even though you think you're calling the shots. 

The truth is that you aren't.  In one segment, she rehearsed all night long, sick as a dog, working like a mad woman, to make it all perfect.  Because she had to make the upcoming performance exactly how she had pictured it.  At one point, she seemed frustrated.  Exhausted.  Throat so sore she could hardly sing. The people on the side watching (including her mom) were quick to tell her, "No, it looks GREAT!  Good job."  And I don't doubt they were sincere.  But, my mama's heart longed for one of them to say, "You can stand on a stage with a microphone in your hand and sing beautifully without all these dance moves and fog machines and such.  Let them take note of you alone.  You can dazzle them just by being yourself in a simple performance.  Go to bed and care of yourself."

Because she seemed nearly frenzied, in my estimation.  That's what I observed.  A girl who gave up her childhood and adamently communicates that this is indeed what she feels happened.  Which seems to be pushing her to be larger than life on her own terms.  She talked about being in control.  But, I saw someone who was angry.  An anger that drives her to a rebellious "I'll show them!" attitude.  A tangle of emotions from all that she has been through in the limelight and all the pressure it has put on her.  And I personally feel it is still controlling her.  Despite her protests otherwise.  

I want to tell her that I have no idea what her life has been like or what it is like now, to live with the pressure of fame.  I don't envy that position at all.  I want to tell her that it's okay to take a step back and gain perspective rather than what appears to be her attempts to lash back.  I'm sure if she read this, she would perceive me as another critical small minded person.  But, truly.  My heart here is not to judge.  My heart is to understand.  As a mom, I am concerned about what I see happening.  And not one ounce of that is concern for her influence on my own kids.  Because, truth be told, they are not impressed.  No, I am concerned as a mom because I somehow feel a tug for her.  I am tired of seeing fame at a young age come with such a huge price.  In our culture of celebrity worship, we build up the latest sensation in one moment.  And then, we sit back to pick them apart the moment they stumble.  

Back to the show. At one point her mom is interviewed.  She makes it abundantly clear than when critics ask where her mom is during all this ruckus, she says, "I'm right here.  I've been right by her side through every step of this."  That seems to be true.  I don't question the validity of that.  And goodness knows, I do not know the whole story or have a clue about their relationship.  But, here's my observation based on what was shown during the documentary.  I never saw her mom taking the lead on her daughter's behalf.  

I don't know that we ever outgrow the need for our moms to lead us at times--to take a step ahead and to intervene for our welfare.  To make that move from being right beside us to lovingly being ahead of us and anticipating our needs and nurturing and tending to them.  She would probably vehemently argue with my assertion.  She may, in fact, have been doing that all along.  But, all through this "special," I saw a young lady who seems overcome by the need to be in charge.  I wanted someone to wrap her up in their arms and let her unravel.  I wanted that someone to be her mom.

It's all strategic.  It's all planned out, Miley says.  This is not some girl gone crazy.  It's a young artist taking control and strategically making a name for herself.  

Indeed she is.  But, I wonder.  As Britney Spears seems to be gaining some perspective (based on a recent press release) on "being sexy" now that she's a mom, will Miley follow suit?  Someday, she might be a wife.  And a mother.  And we all gain wisdom with our life experiences.  Is she so caught in the moment and being noticed that she isn't seeing the long term here.  Is this the name you want for yourself?  Because I personally find it hard to appreciate her real giftedness when she insists on flaunting her "assets."  This goes for all in the music and film industry, really.  True talent and a beautiful heart and character tend to get lost in the smoke and lights of our oversexed society.

As I close this rambling, I have to be sure and point out the climatic moment for me as I watched this documentary.  Throughout the entire show, I saw a young woman insisting how in control she is.  How she is more herself than ever.  She is planning it out.  She is in charge.  She is calling the shots.  She is working toward a movement.  


But, when her planned entrance to the VMA Awards in a police car goes awry, she is anything but in control.  It unravels her to a point that I found disturbing.  She lost her noodle, as my friend Terri would say.  She is seen screaming into the phone, screaming at handlers, blowing her top.  Her mom sits behind her, seemingly speechless to this over-the-top reaction.  In that moment, I wanted her mom to comfort her.  To help her work through it.  To take control for her. I wanted to tell Miley that no one knew what she had planned--it would not be seen as a "mistake" to anyone.  Only she knew.  But, I don't think she would have listened.  Because she was completely beside herself.

And then, she finally decides to jump out of the vehicle after shouting numerous times that she was not going to get out.  And turning on a dime, she puts on her public face, with tongue hanging out.  The emotional switch was so sudden, it alarmed me.  I saw a depth of anger and frustration that can be dangerous.  Then, she suddenly stuffed it all like nothing had just happened. 

Perhaps my social work background is fueling an overly active imagination.  But, that moment showed me a girl who was anything but in control.  I saw a girl so hanging by a thread that the littlest thing brought a big reaction.  I saw a girl losing it, while a mother sat back with no comfort offered--at least on film.  I saw a girl so striving to live up to a public image, a self-projected personae that she is actually quite fragile. 

And it made me sad.  People weren't made to be worshiped.  It's too much pressure.  When people are placed on a pedestal, the only way off is down.  When people are subjected to insane pressure and publicity and their every step is scrutinized, it's problematic.  When I think about celebrities with staying power, I think of those who have chosen to leave the Hollywood scene.  Who ground themselves in reality and work to keep it all in perspective.  

I don't think that seeing this television special about Miley cleared anything up for me.  In fact, it made it all that more muddy in my mind.  I felt sorry for her.  I saw her as a perfectionist, striving, working, running.  At one point, she was upset when her new single debuted on iTunes at about 182 upon it's release.  She said she wouldn't be satisfied until it hit number 1.  Even when it did reach number 2 (which appears to be later in the same day), she is seen saying on the phone, "if you aren't number 1, then you're last."

Oh, Miley, Miley, Miley.  I want to tell you that the Top Hits chart is ever changing.  Perfection is impossible.  No one ever stays at number one.  What is the content of your life in between your number one hits?  Just striving for the next one? Rest and relax in who you are.  Quit trying to prove yourself.  You are good enough, just as you are.  No latex outfit or sensationalized performance or fodder for conversation and attention can define you for the long term.  

And as for that t-shirt you wore that said, "only God can judge," I have something to say about that, too.  I want you to know that God alone can satisfy.  All else is chasing after the wind.  I'm so grieved that you seem to see God as the judge.  Because He is really the lover of your soul.  And it's beautiful and priceless to Him.  Without all the hype and glitz and dancers and choreography.  Plunge in His mercy.  Drink of His grace.  There you will find hope.  And meaning.  And it will have nothing to do with what others say about you or write about you or how your songs sell.      

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