Miley Cyrus, Really So Offensive?

At the risk of adding to the already ridiculous amount of blogger buzz about Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s, I feel I must say something. Nearly every post or tweet or review, that’s shot across my screen this past week has all but crucified Miley for her gross/disturbing/offensive performance. “What happened to innocent Hannah Montana?” “What happened to our culture?” “What happened to the music industry?” Everyone shouts.

But let’s take a step back for a moment. Let’s set aside our judgments about Miley’s twerking, gyrating, and foam fingering (and, yes, even the foam finger creator has apparently spoken out in disapproval). And ask ourselves are we really so offended?

I am Second recently launched a beautiful film about young artist Moriah Peters who was kicked off American Idol for not having enough edge, for saying she wouldn’t kiss a boy until marriage. While not a stand everyone needs to make, its a #beautifulstand that should be celebrated, but instead was punished.

MTV would gladly show videos of cute kittens chasing yarn and little kids eating ice cream cones, if we’d watch. Sony would gladly sell records about abstinence, walking old lady’s across the street, or any of a thousand more wholesome topics, if only we’d support their decision with our dollars. The point is, we don’t. This doesn’t let entertainers and industry execs off the hook for promoting material better left in the editing room, but it does remind us that we too have a place on that hook. We get what we ask for. She did what she knew would sell records, gain followers, and generate buzz.

Perhaps, Jesus said it best. We get so upset about the speck in someone else’s eye (and nobody is denying there’s not a speck) that we forget the two-by-four in our own. We gladly deride public offenders, those whose “sins” everyone can see, but forget that Jesus reserved his harshest judgment for the secret “sinners,” that group of people whose chief offense lies in denying they have anything to deny.

To the upstanding citizens of his day, Jesus said “sons of hell,” to the guys with all the answers he called “blind guides,” to the religious judges he called “hypocrites.” I long pondered why? Was he exaggerating to make a point? Or did he really think that upstanding decently good people who had the habit of not admitting their mistakes were worse than prostitutes, drunks, and thieves? Call me literal, but I think he was being serious. I think he would much rather have someone openly offensive than someone in denial.

So if you must judge Miley Cyrus, then go for it. I wasn’t a fan of her performance, but I don’t she cares what I think. I’m not going to stop you from speaking out and, apparently, its the cool thing to do this month. Doing so will likely grab you a few new followers. But before you do so let me give you a warning: you have a plank in your eye.


Doug Bender is a writer for I am Second and author of best selling books “I am Second: Real Stories. Changing Lives.” and “Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First”. His  story about self-esteem and friendship is featured at

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