14 May 2010

Like Miley Cyrus, We've All Given Lap Dances

"Wait, what? Miley Cyrus? Gave who a lap dance? And what do you mean? I've never given anyone a lap dance!"

Oh, the questions you must have. Let's start from the beginning.

Last year, Miley Cyrus - the cute, precocious teen, celebrity daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus, a.k.a. Hannah Montana, and Disney child star - began slipping into teenage rebellion when she quit Twitter. Yet, Miley didn't just quit tweeting or cancel her account. She also wrote a rap song about it.




Mashable reported: Miley Cyrus deleted her Twitter account this week, citing the fact that tabloids were using the Tweets as fodder for their stories.

Her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus, tweeted: "Miley. You are a light in a world of darkness. You were born 'Destiny Hope Cyrus' for a reason.You can't leave everyone now.We r countin on u."

Miley tweeted: "FYI Liam doesn't have a twttr & he wants ME 2 delete mine w/ gd reason." Moments later, her account was gone.

However, in a Parade interview, she offered a different explanation for the account's deletion: “There has been so much controversy sometimes about what I’ve said or done because I believe there are no mistakes because God is the only one who can judge us. That’s the reason I deleted my Twitter account because I said on there that I believed in gay marriage because everyone should have the right to love each other, and I got such hate mail about my being a bad person.”

Miley joined a few celebrities who were speaking out against Carrie Prejean's support of traditional marriage with these tweets:

• "Everyone deserves to love and be loved and most importantly smile."


• "Jesus loves you and your partner and wants you to know how much he cares! That's like a daddy not loving his lil boy cuz he's gay and that is wrong and very sad!


• "Like I said everyone deserves to be happy."


• "God’s greatest commandment is to love. And judging is not loving."


• "I am a Christian and I love you - gay or not - because you are no different than anyone else! We are all God's children."

Is quitting Twitter really rebellious? Taking back one's privacy from the public actually seems commendable. Putting out a video to explain the reasons are the marks of a singer and actress. But what makes this a bit similar to a very public teenager-door-slamming during a discussion are the various reasons including quitting over the gay marriage debate.

Like any teen, Miley likely wasn't prepared for the backlash she would receive. That's not her fault. Who could be prepared for the amount of venom people can dish?

So, if quitting Twitter could be considered rebellious, Miley's latest video - the title track from her June-schedule release "Can't Be Tamed" - could be considered scandalous:



"Can't Be Tamed" seems to embody the spirit of a teenage girl rebelling against the world:

I go through guys like money
flyin' out the hands
They try to change me
but they realize they can't
And every tomorrow is a day I never plan
If you gonna be my man understand

I can't be tamed
I can't be saved
I can't be blamed
I can't can't I can't can't be tamed  


But examine the words closer:

Well I'm not a trick you play,
I'm wired a different way
I'm not a mistake,
I'm not a fake,
It's set in my DNA
Don't change me 

These sound like positive declarations of a confident young girl. However, lyrics like these lean more towards a teenage rant:

If there is a question about my intentions,
I'll tell ya
I'm not here to sell ya
Or tell you to go to hell
(I'm not a brat like that)
I'm like a puzzle
but all of my pieces are jagged
If you can understand this,
we can make some magic,
I'm on like that


While the song by itself may not be scandalous, the new video pushes past that line with Miley in revealing attires and provocatively performing with both male and female dancers.

What does her daddy think of this video?



Billy Ray, I agree that the video concept and execution are cool. It's a work of video art. As a father of a daughter, that video would be awkward for me. This is likely why so many people are shocked, disturbed, concerned, and have such strong emotions to it.

But this is where we parents may need to pipe down. After all, this is a close family. Many teenage daughters barely communicate with their dad if he is even in their life. Plus, most of us have not nor ever will be in the entertainment industry. Dad and daughter are in that very public venue having all sorts of opinions tossed at them. If there are creative boundaries that neither she or her family are willing for her to cross, who are we to judge?

Finally, while Twitter, songs, and videos may truly be public slices of life...other pictures and videos aren't meant to be. The image below was posted to the Twitter account of Adam Shankman, producer of Miley's latest movie The Last Song.



Popeater reports last June the producer posted a photo of Cyrus on Twitter, showing the actress provocatively posing in a make-up chair. Shankman tweeted: "Miley is a sweet angel who works tirelessly and endlessly, and is allowed to have fun in the make up room!" Shankman later said in defense of the photos. "Lighten up or no more behind the scenes pics! She's my little angel sister."

Then comes the lap dance video:



Well, technically, it's Shankman grinding on Miley and she on him. It's shocking that this is happening between a 17-year-old girl with a 44-year-old man. But you're likely missing the justification: he's openingly gay.

This justification hasn't been publicly made but why else would a family-oriented, well-grounded, mega-celebrity, Christian teen pose provocatively with and be grinded on and upon a man almost her father's age?

Parents should note this is how many teens, even Christian teens, are dancing today and they're being fueled by what their friends are doing and today's media. But does that make it ok?

Billy Ray Cyrus defends his daughter again saying, "It's what people her age do" and that she was "having fun."

Because everyone else is doing something is not acceptable. But that's the point, to be accepted. To fit in. To be cool. Plus, it feels good. It's also a little dirty. There's nothing wrong with Miley being at parties and she certainly didn't know she was being taped...but isn't that the point? One never knows who's watching or listening.

Maybe she has no issue with this video. She likely considers Shankman a friend and since he's gay he's "safe" in a sexual way. But does that still make it wise to express her sexuality around him?

Let's face it, every teenager goes through some form of rebellion. What's key is if their family and faith foundations can withstand the "earthquake." Let's examine Miley's documented faith for a moment. At 15, Miley's faith appeared focused on Jesus Christ. In a YouTube video episode of "The Miley & Mandy Show," Mandy Jiroux, Miley's best friend, reads a question from a fan who asked if the girls were Christian.

They both offer a resounding "Yes!" Miley continues, "Yes! We love Jesus! Happy Easter, by the way. He died for our sins. That's how awesome He is. Jesus rocks! That's why we do what we do," the Hannah Montana star adds. "She (Mandy) dances for Jesus. I sing, dance and act for Jesus! ... Now that I think about it, I do everything for Jesus. We make the YouTube videos for Jesus. We’re all about it."

These comments come at 6:10 into the video below:



Miley credited her family and faith for keeping her grounded in an interview with TV presenter Barbara Walters that aired for the Oscars:

“Some people don’t have a family to fall back on, like I have, and that’s when something greater than even that comes in – and that’s faith and that’s what I have for me,” Cyrus told Walters. “That’s what keeps me strong.”

In an appearance on Oprah last year, Cyrus had also mentioned church as the source of her strength.

However, two years later, Miley seems distracted. In an interview for Parade Magazine she says, "The one thing I’m really strong about regarding my religious beliefs is that you should know a little bit about everything before you define your own beliefs. I think all religions have a good practice in them. Liam and I have been reading about Buddhism lately and it’s all about hope and love. To me, faith is about having a clean slate and a clean start.”

The Parade interview continues:


“My faith is very important to me,” she says. “But I don’t necessarily define my faith by going to church every Sunday. Because now when I go to church, I feel like it’s a show. There are always cameras outside. I am very spiritual in my own way. Let me make it clear, though—I am a Christian. Jesus is who saved me. He’s what keeps me full and whole. But everyone is entitled to what they believe and what keeps them full. Hopefully, I can influence people and help them follow the same path I am on, but it is not my job to tell people what they are doing wrong.”


Is it hard being openly Christian in Hollywood?


“People are always looking for you to do something that is non-Christian,” she answers. “But it’s like, ‘Dude, Christians don’t live in the dark.’ I have to participate in life. If I wear something revealing, they go, ‘Well, that’s not Christian.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to go to hell because I’m wearing a pair of really short white shorts.’ Suddenly I’m a slut. That’s so old-school.”

...


At last summer's Teen Choice Awards, Miley danced on an ice-cream cart and appeared to pole dance. Many voiced their opinions of disapproval. Miley's response:

“My job first is to entertain and do what I love, and if you don’t like it, then change the channel. I’m not forcing you to watch me. I’m not forcing you to talk about me. I would do that pole dance a thousand times again, because it was right for the song and that performance. But, dude, if you think dancing on top of an ice-cream cart with a pole is bad, then go check what 90% of the high schoolers are really up to. It’s funny. I don’t know if a lot of parents remember what they were like as kids. But I’m like, ‘Dude, as if you were an angel!’”

She sighs. “I’ve learned I can’t live for what people are going to say. People are so judgmental—especially parents. You can say what you want about mine,” she says, “but I think the world of my mom and dad. They are the best. I am not afraid to tell them anything. Sometimes they’ll say, ‘Miley, we’re not completely stoked about your decisions,’ but at least they’re not worried at 3 in the morning, wondering where I am. It’s all about communication. I don’t care what stories are written about me or what other parents think, because I know how close I am with my parents.”

In fact, Billy Ray Cyrus did not have an issue with the pole dancing routine. “I always tell her to love what you're doing and stay focused for the love of the art and not worry so much about opinions,” Cyrus says.


“You don’t have to say, 'Well, I’m already a bad person so I might as well go ahead and do this other bad thing.' It’s about knowing sometime that what you did wasn’t always the best choice but you now have the chance to start over again. That’s the biggest thing to me about my faith: you don’t have to live tallying up all the things you’ve done wrong. It’s all about forgiveness. If God who created the world can forgive you then you can forgive yourself.”

One only has to listen to the wisdom from her grandmother to know where Miley stands:

"It's a God thing with her," said Ruth Ann Cyrus's grandmother and the mother of Miley Cyrus's father, country singer father Billy Ray Cyrus. "God has blessed her to do as good as she does. She's a good Christian girl. That's mine. I'm so proud of that."

It's so easy for people to lose sight that this girl is a teenager who will make mistakes. Lots of them. Parents made mistakes as teens but did not have their every move photographed, videoed, and shared with the world.

God doesn't tally up our wrongs. He doesn't keep score and nor should we. Yet, we do and often with no effort. We should live and love life...be in the world but not of the world. And that's really where things get fuzzy. How can a Christian enjoy life and this world without falling trap to its sin? It's a daily process that's simple...stay focused on Christ. Spend more time thinking about...praising...praying...living a Christ-centered life and everything will have its priority.

Yes, it's that simple and that hard.

There's a fine line between loving and supporting someone and approving of their decisions. Too often, many feel that to love someone is to approve of their actions or choices. This is the "love the sinner, hate the sin" part that many don't understand. I agree with Miley that everyone deserves to love, be loved, and be happy. Jesus loves everyone. But Jesus did not and does not approve of everything we do. So, I can love someone who chooses to be gay without approving of their choices. I can love a gay couple without approving of them getting married.

While it's not Miley's or any Christian's job to point out the wrongs of others (some of us do this too freely), there are times when standing up to sin is necessary (some of us do this too little) even if it's awkward and uncomfortable. Our maturity and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is tested here, because often there's a better time or way to confront the sin than the time or method we want to use. Sometimes, the time and manner are sound but fear keeps us silent.

Bottomline, I think Miley's pushing boundaries while working her faith. Unlike many of us who settle within comfortable boundaries and have our faith defined by preachers and books.

Again, the difference is a foundation of family and faith. Many celebrities don't have this foundation or have one that's been devastated with divorces and affairs. Miley appears to have a strong family foundation as portrayed in this scene from Hannah Montana: The Movie which not only captures a musical father and daughter's love for one another but also captures so much of who Miley is:



So, beyond not worrying about the splinter in someone else's eye (Matthew 7:3) and ignoring the plank in our own, my advice is simple:
  • Accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
  • Grow in that faith.
  • Love and pray for your family and friends.
  • Before we judge someone's actions (especially someone with whom we have no contact), pray for them.
Yes, we all have "given a lap dance" in our lives. Often many times over. Something we've done or said has caused regret or conflict. Ideally, we and those around us have grown from the experience. Growing up is hard...in life and in faith. But in both we can enjoy the journey.