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Don't get your hackles in an uproar
September 5, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
When a co-worker dropped a printed copy of a Washington Post blog on my desk the other day with the word “Steubenville” prominently featured in the headline, I sighed, and prepared to get my hackles up.
Then I breathed deeply and read it and figured it’s not only darned good writing but an interesting point to make. And so, you’ve got a link to Richard Cohen’s Sept. 2 post “Miley Cyrus, Steubenville and teen culture run amok” here today.
About the only thing I peripherally might not agree with Mr. Cohen about is, as I said last week (“No shock to Miley, no more voice from progressive radio,” posted Aug. 26) is giving Ms. Cyrus more than her just due.
While he argues that it’s indicative of a teen culture run amok, I would take it a step further: It’s a culture run amok. Culture, neither adult nor teen.
What she did was nothing more than the crappy objectification of women that takes place in strip clubs from Vegas to the Weirton. And, so long as someone looks and is willing to pop a buck into the g-string, there will be a market for that crap.
Thus, its culture run amok, where the recently squeaky-clean teen is now the mostly naked bad girl on national TV squiggling her stuff. (The fact that there is a word for it, “twerk” is indicative of a cultural shift, again, Mr. Cohen, maybe I am making your case here.)
Yet we live in a culture that will edit songs on the radio but act appalled at the Miley Cyruses of the world, all the while raising them to another level by looking at them as the issue, not as a symptom.
The near-constant community divisiveness during the past year after the disgusting behavior on display in Steubenville as a result of the booze party, illicit sex, phone tape and Internet commentary is part of why I was less than shocked and could care less about Ms. Cyrus and don’t think of her more than an asterisk in the history of a failed culture.
At any rate, Mr. Cohen writes a darned good piece, with a darned good summary of the clearest capture of the whole Steubenville incident and its aftermath as written by Ariel Levy of the New Yorker, who was able to be a lot more objective about just how the story exploded than perhaps any citizen of the town, including those of us on the front lines.
The lesson is that hackles shouldn’t go up until we’ve got clarity.
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