I’m no prude.
I always try to be a good guy, a good father and do the right thing. But I don’t think of myself as the male version Dana Carvey’s “Saturday Night Live” character the Church Lady.
When I see popular television shows and hear musicians trying to sell music, I don’t think the game is any different than it was when I was a kid – and we all turned out well enough.
Did you ever listen to Prince’s “Purple Rain” album? You won’t hear a few of those songs at Sunday School. Did you notice that when his music wasn’t capturing enough attention, he changed his name to be just a symbol to stay interesting?
Don’t you remember Madonna singing “Like a Virgin” while writhing on the stage in a white wedding dress at the Video Music Awards 29 years ago – when there was actually a channel that played music videos?
I know my sons will see and be influenced by pop culture. I just want to be able to adequately dispel the pop culture fantasies for my boys.
I’m not so worried about Dawit yet. I will have plenty of time to worry about him.
But as he moves from “Thomas the Tank Engine” to “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” my fears are not aroused. When he watches “The Guardians” and hops around like Peter Rabbit for the rest of the week, I’m not so concerned.
Where I worry is my 9-year-old wanna-be-teenager.
Blake is a smart kid. He can get on any Mac product or even my Android phone and find a game to wile away the hours.
But the problems come when he starts watching YouTube videos that he finds funny and then finds music he likes, and suddenly what happened at Sunday’s Video Music Awards becomes relevant even though no one in my family would waste time watching it.
I don’t care if Miley Cyrus is still having emotional issues from being the real life daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus and imaginary Disney star Hannah Montana.
I know she is just trying to make the step from child star to real star and gain hope of not becoming the subject of comments that begin with “remember when … .”
She’s just following the formula. Being a good girl just doesn’t sell very well after you’re 14.
So you grab a foam finger and proceed to go on stage to stroke the naughty parts of the son of that dude who was Kirk Cameron’s dad on “Growing Pains.” Of course that is after she revisited the dance craze called twerking. Don’t be overly shocked by Cyrus breaking away from daddy’s line dancing to some booty-shaking twerk moves.
A lot of Andover, Kan., students took up twerking last year and started a Twitter campaign where the twerk team tried to get then Superintendent Mark Evans to give students an extra snow day with all of the tweets hash tagged #willtwerkformark.
This is nothing new.
The fact that she twerked with giant robot teddy bears was nothing but a desperate person trying to hold on to fame.
But how do I convince Blake that 10 million Elvis fans can, in fact, be wrong?
I want him to be attracted to girls for the right reasons. I want him to be drawn to friends who help make him a better person. I don’t want him falling for tricks and hanging around with people who only want to use him up before they move on to their next victim.
There are always going to be those who compensate for inadequacies with outrageous behavior. Anyone can get attention. But is it the kind of attention you really want to get or even the kind of person you want to give your attention to?
If you want to stand out at the grocery store, get a tattoo on your face. People will notice you. But that might not be the best way to get noticed.
Women who are willing to titillate a crowd with lewd behavior always get recognition. Miley Cyrus knew it because she watched Disney stars turned pop vixens Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera do it. They knew it because they watched Madonna. Madonna knew that Marilyn Monroe was a famous actress, but her fame didn’t come from acting.
You may never be a good enough singer to earn your way onto the stage at the VMA’s, but if you can flail around a bit and howl a few choruses, they will let you on stage. The catch is you have to share that stage with giant robot teddy bears and pretend to be an awkwardly-shaped stripper. If you are willing to grope the singer of another song, they will even keep you around for a duet.
We won’t be the generation that changes the fact that sex sells. We won’t change pop culture to recognize talented people who are fascinating with their clothes on singing lyrics with a positive message.
But we can make sure we have the conversation with our kids that it is sad that someone has to behave this way to cling to fame. We can build their self-esteem so that when faced with the choice, they choose to be less popular and hold on to their character.
The reward won’t be fame or fortune, but it will be worth it.
That’s the message. We have to deliver it.
Kent Bush is publisher of the Augusta, Kan., Gazette.
Kent Bush: Dispelling the pop culture fantasies
I’m no prude.