October 11th, 2010


Someone Tell The Fat Lady She's On In Five....

Miley Cyrus turns 18 next month.

Which means we will FINALLY stop hearing about her.

Proof?  Let's see...Britney Spears...the Olsen twins...Lindsay Lohan...lots of celebrities that shamefully mine that "forbidden fruit" gig.  Then, as soon as they're legal, no one wants them anymore.  Christina Aguillera created an identity as X-tina, and it bombed out.  So, once Miley turns 18, no one will find her interesting and maybe, just maybe, no one will try to shoehorn her bullshit music into my Rock Band anymore.

Miley got her start through the media factory that is Disney.  Was never a fan.  Hannah Montana sounds like Ashley Tisdale sounds like Hillary Duff sounds like....  The music is interchangeable, and is actually deceptively ingenious.  It's a sound and style guaranteed to sell.  Part of that is keeping the singers just a step above the Kids Incorporated troop in age.  Once again, it's interchangeable, no one really notices.  It's music set up to move merchandise, not explore the frontiers of the art form.

Now, I want to emphasize there is nothing wrong with that.  There's nothing wrong with being a crowd pleaser.  But I had higher hopes for Miley.  Her dad was Billy Ray Cyrus, who did one of the most annoying songs ever, Achy Breaky Heart, and saw everything vanish on him.  I thought for sure he would emphasize to his own daughter how transitory the entertainment industry is, and how lucky she was to have something that would set her up for life.  All she had to do was not fuck it up.

But a funny thing happened -- Miley started thinking it was her and not the Disney product that was getting popular.  Disney is a brand.  Parents like to think that they can buy Disney stuff for their kids and not worry about naughty things that will rot their kids' minds.  It's safe.  But that also means control.  Disney keeps a tight rein on the product.  Miley felt that only she could sing songs like the shitkicking rap of "Hoedown Throwdown" and make it a hit.  Here's a little free advice I learned from my days trying to make it as a screenwriter, Miley -- YOU DON'T SCREW WITH THE MOUSE.

Miley's last album came out in April and declared its title to the world -- "Can't Be Tamed".  The video tried depicting Miley as finally ready to spread her wings and take off on her own (considering the song musically sounds like an outtake from Depeche Mode's sessions, that's not exactly pushing her boundaries).  The album has sold only 260,000 copies to date.  She has shot a new video for the song "Who Owns My Heart?", continuing her "can't be tamed message."  She writhes on a bed without pants on, and cavorts with both genders on the dance floor.

The Parents' Television Council has released a statement.  "It is unfortunate that she would participate in such a sexualized video like this one. It sends messages to her fan base that are diametrically opposed to everything she has done up to this point. Miley built her fame and fortune entirely on the backs of young girls, and it saddens us that she seems so eager to distance herself from that fan base so rapidly."  This practically drips of hypocrisy.  First, Billy Ray Cyrus is on the board of the PTC.  Second, there's nothing about the pole dancing at the Nick Kids' Choice Awards.  Nothing about posing in bedsheets for a mag shoot when she was 15.  Nothing about how she performed Can't Be Tamed on Britain's Got Talent, and during the routine kissed a female dancer.  Nothing about the covertly shot video of the 16 year old Miley giving the 44 year old director of The Last Dance a lapdance.  Not one complaint about any of that behavior, but they are complaining about this video.  Is the PTC being used as a cat's paw by Billy Ray?  It seems mom and dad are finally noticing the Lindsay Lohan career path their daughter is taking.

I watched the Hannah Montana concert.  It was really strange to watch.  I'm used to live performances, even those that are heavily DAT'ed, to have some enthusiasm, some excitement, some LIFE from the performers.  I know about the stage smiles and that, but you could tell from the movements of the musicians that this was just a job, they weren't into the music they were creating, they were on the clock.  Given how much I love music, it's harsh to see something so rote and uninvolving.  I don't fault the musicians.  They clearly know this is a meal ticket.  The sad thing is, the one who really needs to heed the lesson, Miley, is tone deaf to it.

This Is What Happens When You No Longer Have The Gong Show

So, my post about Southern Baptist, ying_ko_4  rightly took me to task for violating one of my own rules.  When it comes to religion, I try to remember the church is not its people.  Just because church authorities act one way, it doesn't mean those following it necessarily have those values.  I pointed out in another posting that I know Catholics who support reproductive rights or love their gay children.  In one of the Hannah Singer stories, she explicitly states that the hardest thing to keep in mind is that, just because someone is a particular religion, it does not mean they share those values (note to ying_ko_4:  it's in one of the stories in the sample pack I sent you).  So it is a lesson that is important to remember, but is very easy to forget when the ire shoots into the Red Zone.

Well, ying_ko_4 called me on it very respectfully.  However, my teacher is not so subtle.  She also read the post and the comments, and she decided to remind me of this very simple rule about stereotyping people because of their religious beliefs and give me a Gibbs-smack.  So she sent me a link to a news article.

Music lovers are familiar with the Insane Clown Posse.  I remembered them being signed by Disney's record label a looooong time ago, then the contract got dropped because of how "controversial" they were (I didn't hear anything that bad compared to Straight Out Of Compton, but whatever).  I've heard their stuff every once in a while, most recently because one of my supervisors at the warehouse is a fan, and put them over the PA system so everyone could listen to them as we closed up for the night.  They have their fans, I don't get it, so I just move on. People either really love them or really hate them, there is no middle ground.

So, what did this controversial rap group do recently that has set their fans on edge?

They have announced that they've been evangelical Christians the entire time.

I read the headline, and the first thing I thought of was,  Uh-uh.  My teacher is fucking with me.  Then, I thought, okay, the article is legit, but the ICP is fucking with me.  This is an irony troll.  Is it?  I have no clue.  But reading some of the quotes from them and their attempts to validate their faith?  I'm not convinced this isn't a put on.  Although, if it is true, we have a new mark for how insane Christians can be.

Apparently, the fans ("Jugalos", possibly the trendiest subculture to hate on.  Yes, even more than furries) are debating whether or not this revelation, in the form of a song called "Thy Unveiling", is true.  Does it matter?  People are fans of the ICP's act.  They weren't listening to them for guidance (at least, I'm hoping they aren't).  Back when I was in the Pokemon League, one of my co-workers said she wasn't sure she should let her kids play because "Wizards Of The Coast is owned by hardcore Atheists".  I pointed out people do not play AD&D or Pokemon for religious instruction, they play them to have a good time, whether or not the owners had an anti-Christian agenda didn't factor into it.  I mean, this is one song by the ICP making a declaration like this, and its apparently isolated from the rest of their catalog.  Does it really matter what their religious beliefs are or that they made a song about them?

Religion is a tricky area.  It shouldn't matter what people believe, but it does.  What religion we follow, how we worship, reflects our values.  It's a shorthand.  And people gravitate to others like them.  EQ2Flames had a forum for discussing religion.  People of all stripes, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, whatever, met there to talk.  Then the founder of the board admitted he was Christian.  Participation in the forum dropped.  Nothing changed.  He didn't ban anyone, no changes in policy, the only difference was the awareness of where on the religion map the founder was.  And suddenly, people who weren't Christian left.

Religion makes us do weird things.  Our reactions make us regard people as a checklist of beliefs instead of actual people, and makes it that much easier to regard them as worthless when nothing should change.  Maybe the greatest awareness that can be achieved is not so much gaining consciousness as leaving a defective one behind.