And not for the reasons you’re thinking…
The VMA’s are done and gone. And the ONE thing everyone is still talking about is Miley Cyrus and her performance. Mostly it was angry posts about her being a slut, or her dad being a horrible father (nothing about her mom, oddly enough). Everyone was sharpening their pitchforks and lighting their torches. And, yes, I got into it too. I even posted this on facebook:
I was wrong. Well, partially. I don’t really think any (sane) dad wants to see their daughter shake her groove-thing all over some married dude’s crotch on national tv. BUT…the point I’m getting at is this:
If parenting were taught in college, this would be a masters level class. There are so many layers going on that trying to find a coherent thread is hard because of all the background noise from all the other parenting type stuff going on. I’m not going to go off on Billy Rae Cyrus and his parenting. I’m not going to go off about Miley being a slut…etc. Instead, I’m going to blend Star Trek, Star Wars, and Miley Cyrus into the epiphany I had about parenting.
The Kobayashi Maru
If you know what this is…we are already friends and just didn’t know it yet. If you don’t know what it is, here’s a breakdown:
In the Star Trek universe, there is a test that cadets at Starfleet take if they are on the ‘Command’ track. The cadet’s ship gets called into the Neutral Zone to help a civilian ship called the Kobayashi Maru. If the cadet does nothing, everyone on the Kobayashi Maru dies. If they answer the call, they risk the lives of everyone on their ship as well as risk starting all-out war with the Klingons.
What is a captain to do? Well, it turns out that no matter what the captain does, they lose. It is a classic no-win scenario. It’s merely set-up to test a person’s mettle and see how they handle impending death. Except, there is one captain who managed to win the Kobayashi Maru. That would be Captain Kirk. On his third attempt at the test, he realized it was set up to defeat him no matter what, so he reprogrammed the simulation and saved the Kobayashi Maru from the Klingons, didn’t lose any of his crew, and avoided war. Instead of being kicked out of Starfleet Academy for cheating, he was given a commendation for innovative thinking.
I know what you’re thinking, how does some stupid Star Trek reference link up to Miley Cyrus being a slutbag on tv? I’m getting there. Because like so many parents, I was filled with a sense of outrage when I saw the video. Well, not outrage per se, but it was a pretty visceral reaction. I saw images of Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, et al, bouncing around in my head. It looked like a cry for help. It looked like the final flash in the pan before something big happens like rehab or worse. And I, like so many others, reacted on that.
But, I like to think I’m constantly growing as a person and as a parent. And to do so, I must question myself, my beliefs, and more importantly, my reactions. I have to ask myself if my reaction was right. Was it fair? Why did I react that way? You get the picture. So, when I read an article about the debacle that framed it differently for me, my mind was blown. I looked back on my previous thoughts an feelings and was angry with myself that I wasn’t smarter.
Here’s a link to the article: Chicago Now
It basically states the facts at hand. Miley Cyrus did just HAPPEN to show up that night with a bunch of pedobears and a bad taste in her mouth. (I mean, is there any other reason to stick your tongue out THAT much?) No, this was planned down to the number of Twerks she did. This was all planned, and approved by a whole bunch of suits who are on this very day slapping themselves on the back HEARTILY. Why?
They offered the bait. And we, as a collective, bit. And we bit hard. But why put yourself out there like that? Flagging record sales? Losing the limelight? The word I kept seeing over and over is ‘relevant’. She has to keep herself relevant. Hell, we’ve watched Madonna do no fewer than five total redesigns of her image to keep herself ‘relevant’. (I mean, what’s up with that weird pseudo-Brit accent she’s rocking these days?) So, why not Miley? Oh, and if you tell your kids that they can’t listen to her music anymore…you’ve just guaranteed them another album sale.
Let’s bring Star Wars into this now. Mostly because I haven’t got my geek on lately and this fit. It’s another no-win scenario except it doesn’t have a cool name tacked on it. It’s that moment in Episode VI when the emperor has Luke on his ship, watching the impending slaughter of the entire Rebel fleet. Luke’s lightsaber is right there. He looks at it. The emperor smiles like a cat playing with a mouse. “You want your lightsaber? Go ahead, take it. Strike me down. Use the anger inside you and strike me down.”
If Luke strikes him down, the emperor becomes stronger, Luke goes over to the dark side, and the Rebel Alliance is obliterated. If Luke does nothing, the Rebel Alliance is obliterated, and he gets killed by the most powerful Sith Lord the universe had ever seen. So…what to do, what to do?
See, if you get all emotional and tell your kids, “She’s a tramp and you’re not going to listen to her music!” then you are guaranteeing that, not only will they listen to it, they’ll enjoy it more than they would have otherwise. Forbidden fruit is sweeter, you know. I listened to a LOT of Black Sabbath back in my day. Mostly, because living in a small west Texas town, there weren’t a lot of headbangers around and my parents liked country. Listening to heavy metal just pissed them off and I liked that. The more I was told it was ‘devil music’ and ‘you’re going to hell’…the louder I played it.
But if you don’t do anything at all, your kids get a skewed vision of what being a ‘grown-up’ can be. So, take the time to watch stuff like that with your kids. And then explain the media manipulation going on behind the scenes. Explain the skewed depiction of reality that’s being portrayed. And check for rubber underwear while doing the laundry.
Seriously, the point is this: Use these events as teaching moments. Moments to converse with your kids. You never know what might come of it. By not reacting the way they want you to react, you are reprogramming the computers in the Star Trek simulation; you are sticking to your morals and calling out to an unlikely ally for aid like Luke did. Each time the victor did something they weren’t expected to do.
The thing about no-win scenarios, you react to them differently if you know it ahead of time. So, looking at the Miley Cyrus thing, would people have reacted differently had they known ahead of time everything was geared to piss them off? I know my reaction was different after I realized I was being played like a fool. Next time, I’m just going to assume when the pop-culture machine is in play…they are desperately trying to put us in a no-win scenario. And then, I can get all Jedi-Starfleet Captain on their butts. (Mixed metaphors rock!)
What’s YOUR Kobayashi Maru?