One of the challenges of raising a child is having to explain the behavior and actions of celebrities. Sure, we can try to shield them from things on TV, but things are a lot different than when I was growing up.
This is where I go waxing all nostalgic on how “back in the good ol’ days” we only had four channels, no Internet and no cell phones or iPads.
If Mama told me not to watch something, I didn’t. That woman had eyes in the back of her head and would find me out anyway.
But now, even when I make conscientious choices to change the channel or just turn the TV off, my child comes in full of questions that I am not necessarily prepared to answer.
“Mama,” he began one day, “what happened to Miley Cyrus?”
“I don’t know. Has something happened to her?”
This question came a considerable amount of time after last year’s music award brouhaha – which was immediately turned the second it came on, even when people were discussing the aftermath of it. I hadn’t even seen the whole hot mess on a biscuit.
“Well, yeah. Why has she started going around sticking her tongue out like that? I don’t get it. And why did she do that to that teddy bear – that was just wrong.”
I couldn’t tell him why she was sticking her tongue out – maybe she had dry mouth or an abscess. Or maybe she was trying to catch flies. I wasn’t sure about the teddy bear. What did she do to a teddy bear?
“Where did you see this, Cole?”
“A friend had it on their iPod and they showed us. It was quite disturbing. I am not sure if that is what I am supposed to consider entertainment when I grow up or not.”
I was worried about what else this friend had on their iPod.
“It’s not entertainment to me either, baby,” I replied.
Although sadly, I did like a few of Miley’s songs. Lame, I know, but I also have a Britney Spears CD in my car somewhere.
“Was she really Hannah Montana before she had this – what’s that word you use – exi-something?”
“Existential,” I offered.
“That word. Before she had her existential breakdown?”
“Yes, she was Hannah Montana.” Cole had never watched Hannah Montana, he was more of an “iCarly” kind of guy, appreciating Sam Puckett’s mean spirit and love of meat. And, I think my son is partial to sassy blondes.
“Then what in the world happened? She went from Disney to … there’s no word to describe what she is doing. Mama, she was naked. On a wrecking ball.” The disgust in his voice was heavy.
How do you explain a young woman being naked on, well, a wrecking ball? It was bad enough when I had to explain those dance moves to my Mama after I got a text asking me what twerking was, did I do it and should she start. I think it ended with: “Would it keep me from losing bone density?”
I still shudder when I recall that conversation. Maybe the age guidelines on some of these shows should be no one younger than 18 and no one older than 60.
“Cole, do you remember that episode of ‘Victorious’ where Victoria was being made to do all those silly, outrageous things for that record label? So it would keep her in the media spotlight?” He nodded, recalling the episode. “That is what is happening here. Miley Cyrus wanted to shake up her image, cast off her ties to Disney and get more attention. People are still talking about that video award show and it was a year ago, so she’s getting what she wanted. She’s laughing all the way to the bank.”
Cole shook his head. “I think it’s wrong. I still saw things that I can’t unsee!”
Me and him both.
“I understand, monkey. But, don’t let what a celebrity does get to you. It’s all just part of their image machine.”
He still was disgusted.
“I wouldn’t want to have that job then if I had to do that kind of stuff. It’s not right and it’s gross. I don’t care how much money they are making. Even if it’s gazillion billion dollars, it’s gross.”
I hope he never loses this moral compass. People have done worse, for less. But that was probably another conversation I wasn’t quite ready for either.
Before I couldn’t explain any further, my phone buzzed with a text from Mama. She just saw something about a highly anticipated movie coming out.
“50 Shades of Gray – what is that about exactly?” she wanted to know.
I sighed. Speaking of conversations I wasn’t ready to have.