By guest blogger, Victoria McCaffrey, student at Hillsdale College
Any onlooker courageous enough to brave the VMAs subjected herself to some of the most distasteful entertainment in our society. I believe Miley Cyrus’ appalling 2013 performance is no exception. After a few years of stardom, Miley has joined her fellow song artists in their typical debauchery, complete with onstage twerking, grinding, and stripping. However, the most dismal aspect of contemporary entertainment, such as the VMAs, is not derived from the entertainers themselves, but rather stems from the eager anticipation of fans who accept this form of entertainment. Despite the “shock” factor experienced after a particularly raunchy debut like Miley Cyrus’, the audience not only absorbs the entertainment but also hungers for something even more racy. Indeed, this must be the case, as the entertainment culture has progressively worsened over the last fifty years, each decade proving more decadent than its predecessors.
So when, you may ask, did this downward spiral occur? While every genre of music (yes, even classical) has had critics, the openly sexual behavior characteristic of modern entertainment would have been banned in previous generations, let alone deemed inappropriate for children’s viewing. Miley Cyrus may be gearing herself towards more “adult” audiences, but as she began her fairly recent career entertaining children, her audience still includes both children and adults. However distasteful this may be, inappropriate entertainment and song lyrics are not new phenomena.
Modern pop-culture derives its origins from the rock ‘n roll movement, and contemporary music has not forgotten its history. True to its roots, modern “artistry” continues to shock, scandalize, and influence impressionable minds, particularly those of children. As each generation ages, however, entertainment worsens by demand, for the audience can be entertained only by something more scandalous than that to which it is accustomed. The worst part is that the audience generally includes young children.
Whatever happened to presenting an audience—particularly children—with lovely, harmonious music? While it might not be immoral to expose children to rock ‘n roll, there remains so much beautiful music in the world that it seems tragic to subject them to anything else. Plato noted in The Republic that the most important part of education is being exposed to the beautiful, and this is, perhaps, the wisest course to make with music and entertainment choices. The problem with modern entertainment? Beauty ceased to be a priority five decades ago.