August 29, 2013

Miley’s Fall From Grace: A glimpse at what’s in store for TVs future if the networks get their way

Written by Hysen Sisco, MIM Intern

Today, Britney Spears’ gyrating hips and bare abs, once shocking the nation at MTVs Video Music Awards, now seem quaint and appropriate in comparison to the recent antics of fallen Disney star Miley Cyrus. At the 2013 VMAs, the media, parents and even her fan base reacted in shock and disgust at Miley’s on-stage performance. She humped, stripped, twerked and grinded against fuzzy bears, other women and Robin Thicke. She was a grotesque caricature of young, female sexuality. I saw nothing innately strong, capable or intelligent about her performance, though I’m sure Miley was told she was being all those things.

Performances by Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Madonna now seem tame in comparison. In 2000, Brittney Spears stripped down to a “nude” costume which, today, just looks like an outfit. In 2003’s infamous kiss between Britney and Madonna raised some more eyebrows as the provocation escalated. Madonna’s role as madam to her virginal prostitutes suggested an increasing influence of pornography. In her music video and the subsequent VMA performance, Miley Cyrus became the epitome of a porn star: embodying a world where women have yet to discover pants/bottoms and they are frozen in subservient/masturbatory poses.

One parent, Kim Keller, wrote a post on her personal blog that echoed the concern of parents across the country. Written as an open letter to her daughter, Keller writes:
Dear daughter, let Miley Cyrus be a lesson to you.
Yes, this is what happens when you constantly hear everything you do is awesome… This is what happens when no responsible adult has ever said the word “no.”
You probably know girls who will emulate this behavior at the next school dance. Don’t do it with them. You are far too valuable to sell yourself so cheaply. Walk away. Let the boys gawk and know in your heart that they see only a body that can be used for their pleasure and then forgotten.

The shock of seeing someone their children grew up with become a sexual object is hard to take. While this is the trend in Hollywood, it seems we haven’t witnessed someone so aggressively sexualizing themselves.

In a 2010 report from the Witherspoon Institute, it is made clear that today’s society is “arguably more sexually coarse, explicit, confusing and risky.” The “modern trends in pornography consumption and production [and] sexualized media” have created a “world more sexually distorting, daunting and aggressive.” Children are being exposed to such materials much earlier in development. It has also been found that adolescents exposed to this sexualized media are more likely to see women as sexual objects, regardless of gender.

In the world of broadcast television, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) guards against such sexualized media. And even what little regulation there is may be further diluted. The FCC is reviewing its policies on investigating profanity, nudity and any other forms of indecency. Doing so would allow content as or more provocative than Miley’s show to air on broadcast television. The networks are pushing to decrease the quality of content, in spite of consumers’ wishes that they be maintained, even strengthened. More than 100,000 Americans have written to the FCC urging them not to lower the current standard.

As for cable, it is much more difficult to get cleaner content. Providing consumers the choice of which cable networks they want to receive in their homes, instead of the current bulk options, would at least give more power to parents to choose what their children watch. The Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 aims to provide à la carte cable packages for consumers who don’t want to pay for the channels they don’t watch and fund programming, such as MTVs award shows, with increasingly provocative content.

WRITTEN BY HYSEN SISCO

Hysen graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a degree in English. She is from Tokyo, Japan and enjoys reading, biking and analyzing movies and other people’s relationships.

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