Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Miley Cyrus and Adulthood

You know me.  I must weigh in on the Miley Cyrus debacle at the VMA Awards.

Before I get to her though, I want to talk about me.  And I want to declare loudly to the world that I am so thankful that the Internet didn't exist when I was 20 years old.  Or texting.  Or phones with cameras or video.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

When I went off to college, I wanted to be an adult.  So, I started doing things that I was certain made me adult (and also things that I wasn't allowed to do at home).  I embraced the F-Word like a long-lost friend and celebrated it's versatility.  What other word could be used as a noun, verb, adverb, and adjective?  It had to be the Best Word Ever, so I used it fluently and frequently.  I also added all of the other "bad words" to my vocabulary to round it all out.  In fact, I could speak almost entirely in curse words and not miss a beat.  Why?  Because I was now an Adult.

Here is a picture of me freshman year.  Check out the lack of smile and overall snarky look.  That is what cool looks like when you are 18 in the 80s.  Or so I thought.  And it also screams Adult, no?

One of my other favorite pastimes was drinking excessively.  That is soooo Adult, isn't it?  The fact that I was tiny and completely unable to handle my alcohol was irrelevant.  It was a Coming of Age Thing that made me sophisticated and witty, right?  Sadly no.  It made me stupid.  As I said, so glad that there were no phone cameras back in the 80s.  Kids who shoot for adulthood by drinking and cursing are WannaBes.  Real adults Know Better.

When I moved to New York City and got a job in publishing it was  shock to discover that no one cursed like a sailor on the job.  In fact, no one cursed at all.  It sunk in pretty fast that Real Adults don't actually spout the F-words like a faucet left on full stream.  In order to tame my own language at work, I had to curb it at home.  Serious adjustment.  Why?  Because that is what Adults do.

Other lessons came harder.  People who can't handle their drink (like me) still like to drink.  Especially if they are living in the City That Never Sleeps.  Turns out that if I wanted to be functional at work I needed to sleep during the week.  Ah... but that left the weekends for me to show off how Adult I was.  My friend and roommate had been doing this for one year longer than I and knew where the Good Clubs were.  She even lent me her Club Clothes so that we could go out.

That looked a little bit like this:

I couldn't understand why we would go to these clubs and I would meet these guys who kept getting all Handsy with me.  It was terrible.  The other really bad part of this equation was that I didn't know how to handle it.  I had zero ability to draw a boundary and was unwilling to hurt anyone's feelings by indicating that I wasn't interested.  (This all dated back to my feelings of unworthiness from junior high and high school where people had no trouble hurting my feelings,)  In the end, my friend would bail me out of the Bad Situation by assailing The Octopus with a stream of F-words and he would go away.

After several rounds of this, I understood the common denominator here was Me and The Clothes.  I told my friend I would still go with her, but from this point on I was going casual.  Jeans and a blouse worked for me.  That did indeed solve the problem.  I still met people... just not Handsy ones.  Yeah, I had to act and look like an Adult in order to get treated like one.

I am going to assume that Miley Cyrus put on that performance at the VMAs because she wanted to show the world that she was no longer Hannah Montana, the Kid.  She was an Adult now.  All she proved was that she was Trying To Be An Adult.  Shame on all of the people who are supposed to be helping her make the transition.  Apparently none of them know what an actual Adult looks like either, or that train wreck wouldn't have happened.  The Good News... even people who go through years of bad decision-making, like me, of WannaBe Adult behavior eventually figure out what Actual Adult Behavior looks like.  There's still hope for you, Miley.


  1. Isn't it sad how quickly so many adults forget all the dumb stuff they did at that age?

    Isn't it also sad how much time they spend dissecting a teenager's behavior at an MTV awards show, while they could care less what their elected leaders do?

    Is it any wonder why our country is in the state it is in?

    Everyone makes bad decisions, and I find it hard to believe that I am the only one who still makes them at times in his fifities.

    They help us to learn....and to grow.

    Making bad decisions is not such a bad thing. Making the same bad decisions repeatedly is not such a good thing.

    Larry's $0.02

  2. Just because you were a hottie all dressed up wasn't a good reason for the boys to be handsy. Just saying. :)

    The pictures are great, did you go to Harvard?

    The Miley thing really blew up. I like your take on it. I'm a mom, so I can't help but wish for something better for her, but I know maybe that's what she wants too... so, here's hoping she stays safe.

  3. LC ~ Yes. I agree that people need to take more of an interest in what is happening in government. Those decisions play out in our every day lives. So, in some ways the "crazy" things that young people do is relevant and worthy of dissection simply because it is a reflection of where we are as a society. No, the country is a mess. Surprised more people don't realize it. Making mistakes is part of learning. Making the same mistake is a pattern. The learning comes when you figure THAT out.

    mail4rosey ~ I am not saying that a man should ever get Handsy with a woman. I am saying that dressing a certain way sends a message and does seem to invite behavior that you don't necessarily want. If you aren't very clear on what you are willing to do with that unwanted behavior (I wasn't) and good at setting boundaries (I wasn't), then you are headed for trouble. No, I didn't go to Harvard. It was the Cool Thing to own sweatshirts from different Universities. I still have my Princeton one. Ha! I do hope that Miley figures out that walking around half naked and sticking out your tongue, while make lewd gestures with a foam finger doesn't make you a Grown Up. Just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

  4. I guess she watched Brittney and Bieber take the adult plunge and like a lemming followed. Yeah, it was trashy, but she's young and stupid. Hopefully there are some good influences in her life.
    I didn't drink much in college, but my roommates were known as the Beer Elves. They flunked out rather quickly...

  5. Miley has been doing this sort of thing more and more and more. I think this goes beyond simply trying to prove she's an adult. She's acting more and more like Britney Spears did before she totally went off the rails and ended up with a shaved head and a doctor giving control of her assets to her parents even though she was over 18 because she was legally crazy. I think Miley is taking serious drugs. I don't think she has the slightest clue how stupid she looks to the rest of us because she can't think clearly, not even child-level clearly.

  6. I loved your take on your life and making mistakes. Your honesty and insight are refreshing, and I know exactly what you're talking about. After my first divorce, I roamed the NYC party circuit for a while, too. Biggest waste of time ever.

    I don't think people are giving Miley enough credit. Let's look at a few facts. She's not a druggie or a regular on the party scene, flashing her undies (or lack thereof). Her father was a one-hit wonder - hit it huge from one song and then faded from sight as many singers do. Who makes it really big and stays for album after album? The ones who create buzz and publicity. Madonna, Britney, and Gaga. Miley knew exactly what she was doing and it worked. Everyone's talking about her. Her phone will be ringing off the hook with talk shows and personal appearances and maybe someone will give her her own reality show soon.

    FYI, Myley's managers and stylists work for her, they don't tell her what to do. In Britney's VMA 2007 barely lucid performance, her stylists laid out a corset-like dress for her. She refused it and wore a black rhinestone bikini smaller that what Miley wore. I'm sure she would have "twerked" if she hadn't been busy trying not to fall down.

    One last fact: On the red carpet before the VMA's, Miley said, "We've got better in store for you guys, it's going be even crazier than the kiss [the infamous Madonna-Britney kiss]," she declared, going on to note that her brand-new single, "Wrecking Ball," was already tearing up the charts. "This is just the beginning of my movement. Today the pre-order came out and I'm already #1 with my single that no one had heard until today. It's already #1, so I'm already so excited. It's a part of a movement that I'm about to create, and my fans have been really important in it."

    She knows what her pre-orders are on the day her single comes out. She knows she's going to top the Madonna/Britney scandal on the same day. Planned? Obviously. She refuses to fade away like Dad, and she knows kids love scandal. She's not a poor teen crying out for attention and love; she's a businesswoman in a very hard (and creepy) business, and she's doing very well.

  7. Very insightful. And I think you're absolutely right. I'm glad picture-taking cell phones weren't around in the sixties, either.

  8. I just can't believe anyone, literally anyone, is applauding the behavior. There was nothing "sexy" about her performance, nor was there any talent displayed. I'm sure it's all about divorcing herself from her past entertainment persona, but what she did was put her vocal abilities in the backseat and invite trashiness to ride shotgun. Now will people ever let her live it down should she decided to make a course correction?

  9. Alex ~ Unfortunately, since Madonna assumed the throne, the adage about all being publicity being good has held true. Madonna was the Queen of Reinventing herself. Maybe Miley plans to follow in those footsteps. In that case, I have this all wrong and we will see numerous publicity stunts all designed to keep the audience guessing. Lady Gaga has proven that (most) of the public loves the outrageous. Oh... and about college drinking, I obviously didn't drink enough to flunk out or even allow my grades to slip badly. I just drank more thank I should!

    Memphis Steve ~ I don't know anymore. Is this WannaBe Adult behavior? If there are drugs involved, that could also be thrown in as WannaBe Adult behavior. "All the cool people are doing it." These stupid, tragic mistakes are often made because people want to be something they aren't. Now if Lexa's right (see her comment below yours) than we are both wrong.

    Lexa ~ If this is a well thought out business decision to use the media to reinvent herself over and over again to stay in the spotlight (see Madonna as the role model), then no publicity is bad publicity. It says worse about society than it does Miley if lewd behavior like what she exhibited actually launches careers instead of breaking them. It means the populace really is operating at the most base level possible and Miley knows how to work that machine.

    Susan ~ Yeah, big relief. I look back on those days and do an all over body shudder.

    Steven ~ I don't think anyone is. However, as Lexa pointed out above that horrible show has only landed her interviews and rocketed her song to #1. That says more about society than it does Miley's exhibition. (Everyone, except maybe the teen set - which is a whole other level of scary - think it was terrible, but the media lends it credence by lining up the interviews. And the kids buy the record like its going out of style.) Here's the thing... if you did something that had everyone talking, landed you tons of interviews, and pushed your record to #1, would you change course? Or would you act like Madonna and constantly reinvent yourself so that you were always splashing around in the media pool? Yes, this is me suggesting that maybe I was wrong. Maybe this wasn't a WannaBe Adult move. Maybe this was a calculated publicity stunt intended to be vulgar and shocking with the intent of boosting record sales.

  10. I'm with you, so very, very thankful! My saving grace was growing up in such a strict family environment and being a control freak I was never a drinker and swearing wasn't lady like. I've been called Victorian - okay - I accept that. I never even said a swear word until my thirties. I'm weird, but yes, I still managed to make a lot of poor decisions, and don't honestly know how these young women figure there way through a world gone mad!

  11. How "adult" of you to see your past choices in full color. We are all responsible for our choices and often young people make choices that harm us later in life. Miley made her choice and she'll have to live with it or change it, I guess.

  12. What did Miley do?

    Whatever it was, it wasn't enough to get MY attention because, seriously, I have no idea what this is all about.

    Timothy Leary said: "Turn on. Tune in. Drop out."

    Me, I never turned on or tuned in, but I dropped out a long time ago.

    Color me pleased to be clueless.

    I has a TV.
    I only turn it on
    seconds before I put in a DVD.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  13. Yolanda ~ The world is crazy for sure!

    Manzanita ~ You are right. We get an opportunity to make a different choice every single day.

    Stephen ~ I didn't actually watch the VMA Awards either. I just HEARD about it the next day everywhere. Finally, I watched Miley on YouTube. I am not saying you should do it. It was one of the worst displays I have ever seen. As a friend cautioned out to me before I watched, "Don't do it. You simply can't unsee something." He was right. You will want to scrub your eyeballs, but the memory remains.

  14. From what I've heard from several of my friends, it seems that you went through a fairly normal thing in asserting yourself as an adult. 'Normal' families always get that tug and pull thing with their kids and then most people reign it in themselves when they see how silly they are for acting out. It's a process as I understand it and believe me you want the ability to feel free enough to go through this stage. It's not good or healthy to skip it.
    However, this behavior with Miley does remind me a bit too much of some of the stuff that people in not so healthy families do when they are acting out. And then things can get out of hand really quickly. Let's hope that this is just a phase and that we won't see the poor girl in jail or rehab anytime soon. I like to joke that I come from a long line of crazy and that I chose to step out of the conga line just in time! Let's hope Miley can do the same!


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