Alright, I’ll take the bait. I wasn’t going to write about Miley’s and Robin’s infamous VMA performance, because quite frankly, I didn’t want to give it an ounce more recognition than it deserves. I realize I live in a world where I can’t walk through a grocery checkout line without learning something new about one of the Kardashians or the latest member of The Bachelor cast. What I haven’t figured out is why I should care about that stuff. But this particular event has crossed the bounds of gossip magazines into even my pop-culturally-ignorant consciousness. And so, since this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge is about this topic, and since I’ve built my platform on the potential for greatness in young people, here I am, adding my two cents to a topic that I’d rather let slip quietly into oblivion.
Miley Cyrus left a mark on the world with her performance that day. She made people notice her and talk about her. It may not be positive attention, but no one can deny that the eyes of the world are fixed on her for the moment. In America’s outrage, they’ve plastered Miley’s twerking body all over the news and in front of my eyes. I didn’t watch the VMAs, and yet I’m still inundated with her tongue-wagging image. But to those outraged at her performance, I have a request.
Instead of pointing fingers at Miley, descrying her poor choices, and constantly reminding me of her lewd performance, point my attention to someone else worthy of my notice.
Show me a young person living the kind of life you want young people to live. Celebrate those individuals making good choices, draw the spotlight to impressive actions, and inundate our news media with the images of young people doing good in the world. Then maybe we won’t have to keep focusing on a young lady who decided to flaunt herself sexually in a very public way.
I hope for better for my teen readers. I hope for more fulfilling goals and more world-changing drive from them, because I know how incredible they are. I don’t want them to think they have to be shocking to be noticed, and yet, that’s the message we send every time we talk again about that VMA performance. So let’s stop talking about it and notice someone else. Let’s take a moment to highlight young people who have done big things and made their marks on the world in wonderfully positive ways. Here are some great examples to get you started. Please feel free to add to this list in the comments section!
- Sadie Robertson, who uses her family’s Duck Dynasty fame to encourage Christian teens in their faith and plans on releasing a line of prom dresses that will be “daddy approved”.
- Zen Hoover, a 14-year-old fantasy photographer taking the world by storm (the image to the right is an example of his work, but check out his flickr account for more).
- Rachel Parent, a 14-year-old teen activist who founded Kids Right to Know and stood her ground in a debate against Kevin O’Leary on genetically-modified foods.
- Teens United Live, an organization founded by two 14-year-olds to help bring funding to school music programs.
- Gabrielle Turnquist, who graduated college at age 17 and passed the UK Bar exam at age 18.
And if you must look to a celebrity as a role model, look to people like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson, and Kevin Durant. All three of these young individuals have not only been noticeably free from scandal in their rise to fame, but they also all strike me as grounded, down-to-earth, and hard workers. They don’t seem so focused on attention that they lose sight of more important things. That’s worth celebrating.
Stop sending the message that obnoxious antics will get the world’s attention and instead start valuing those who are doing right. Give your attention to someone else.
Who do you think we should be looking at instead?
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT, whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE—if anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8