Once again yesterday, I grieved for Miley Cyrus and our kids. I’ve been going through my normal early fall routine as I update and add to all of my youth culture presentations. While clicking in and out of the MTV site, I noticed that a new video by Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball,” had been posted. Then, I watched. My grieving has carried over into today.
Seven years ago, Miley Cyrus became the role model for a generation of young girls through her portrayal of Hannah Montana. Imagine for a minute – very realistically by the way – that thousands and thousands of those young fans were five, six, and seven years old when that show debuted in 2006. If they’ve been following their role model since then, they’ve been treated to all kinds of lessons about who to be, what to believe, and how to live in the world. Those lessons include episodes of Hannah Montana, some creepy Vanity Fair photos taken when Cyrus was only 15, a rather rapid descent into music video vixenhood, the highly publicized duet with Robin Thicke at the recent Video Music Awards, and yesterday’s release of the video for “Wrecking Ball.”
This morning, this just-released music video lament about love lost is MTV’s “most recent,” “most viewed,” and “most commented.” It’s got traction. It’s also got Miley Cyrus straddling a wrecking ball in the buff, along with scenes of the role model fondling and licking a sledge-hammer that, in reality, clearly represents something else. I’m guessing that those viewers who are looking at this “most recent” include those five, six, and seven-year-olds who are now finding their way through adolescence and into the rest of their lives at the impressionable ages of twelve, thirteen, and fourteen. . . . and they are learning a lot.
I wonder if the transformation of Cyrus is now complete? You can see her here in 2006 as the relatively innocent and youthful role model known as Hannah Montana. And, you can see her in a still that I carefully chose (yes, she’s clothed in this frame) from “Wrecking Ball.” You can view the video if you’d like, but I’ve chosen not to post it here. If the transformation’s not complete, I wonder where she will go next? And, I wonder how her transformation reflects the transformation of our culture, while it maps out the road to transformation for a generation of kids?
Following the recent Video Music Awards, bloggers were all over Cyrus and Thicke. As expected, many Christians seemed to write Cyrus off as beyond redemption. On the other end of the spectrum, other believers took a “who am I to judge” stance and were quick to cast blame on those who were quick to cast blame. Both extremes lack good Gospel sense.
As I pondered the spectrum of responses I was reminded of the need to strike a healthy God-honoring balance between law and grace. On the one hand, we need to remember that Miley Cyrus is not beyond redemption. Thankfully – for me, first and foremost – the grace of God is amazingly deep, wide, and generous. For that reason, we must humbly pray for Miley Cyrus. On the other hand, we don’t want to have to be reminded by folks like Bonhoeffer that there is a crisis of “cheap grace.” We are called to exercise deep discernment, humbly pointing out brokenness wherever we see it, while promoting the shalom that reflects life in the will, way, and Kingdom of God.
I thank God that the Gospel is big. I thank God that we can talk about this stuff with our kids.