That was really, really disturbing…That young lady, who is 20, is obviously deeply troubled, deeply disturbed…probably has an eating disorder…That was disgusting and embarrassing…I feel terrible…That was really, really bad. Awkward might the best word I can find to describe her performance, and it only became more awkward when Robin Thicke joined her onstage. Then it became awkward and demeaning. Or when S acha Baron Cohen dressed as a scantily clad angel and landed in a sexually explicit way on Eminem in ?
Well, fortunately many websites have provided us a list celebrating the most scandalous moment at the VMAs, including not just gossip websites like Celebuzz , but more serious websites like the Huffington Post and CNN. The truth is that we love feeling morally outraged by scandals, especially sex scandals. I love to blame celebrities, politicians, and star athletes when they get caught up in these scandals — I especially like to blame them when they are obviously guilty, which is one reason that the VMAs are so popular.
Every year the VMAs provide us with a live, juicy scandal, where guilt, shame, and attempts at sexual excitement are projected on a television screen for all of us to see. Our response of moral outrage is totally understandable, but mimetic theory helps us understand something deeper about these scandals. Scandals are about scapegoating — blaming others for our cultural problems. As James Warren points out in his recent book Compassion or Apocalypse? Sex scandals and blame will continue with each of our cultural rituals.
Who will scandalize us at the next awards show? Who will scandalize us at the Super Bowl halftime show? Whether positive or negative, we all crave attention, which is exactly what Miley is getting from us right now.
Here we see that scandals are always relational and we are each responsible for our role in them: They create a co-dependent relationship between the offender and the offended. Miley needs our attention and we need her scandals to feel morally superior. I hope that Miley and Robin will take responsibility for their actions, but we all need to take responsibility for a culture that breeds these kinds of scandals. I mean, are we really supposed to stop gossiping about celebrities, politicians, athletes, and our neighbors?
Talking about celebrity scandal can seem innocent enough but, like a contagious disease, it will soon spread to other areas of our lives. We will start gossiping about our family members, friends, and neighbors.
And once that happens the relationships we actually care about threaten to be destroyed. Some questions I have: Instead of outrage, is it possible to feel compassion for Miley Cyrus? What would happen if you started feeling compassion for someone who created a scandal in your neighborhood? If you began to love your neighbor as yourself, would you start a scandal?
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