Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Actually, You Can Care About Miley Cyrus and Syria at the Same Time

This week, two very different topics of discussion have been fighting for dominance over our society’s apparently single-minded attention span: possible U.S. action on Syria and Miley Cyrus twerking at the VMAs.

Some observers advocated that one of these topics is more important than the other, so then this website was created:

While that blog is humorous, others point out that the sentiment behind the blog’s purpose is misguided.

Yes, Miley Cyrus at the VMAs and innocent civilians dying in Syria are nowhere close to being in the same category...but they both carry significant weight in terms of current social significance. Viewing it from an American perspective, the discussions on Miley Cyrus are looking inward at our own flaws as a country, while Syria is looking outward, at how our government’s proposed actions resonate throughout the world.

As this discussion ( on Jezebel explains, the actions of Miley Cyrus during her VMA performance were racist, and her performance perpetuates a history of white performers exploiting black music for their own profit. Publicly criticizing and discussion what Miley did not only calls out the racism of that particular performance, but will hopefully also further the discussion of the harmful effects racist imagery in pop culture continues to hold over already marginalized people. With the death of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his murderer still hanging heavy in the air, the conversation about this performance at the VMAs, and the harmful stereotyping that came with it, is definitely a conversation worth having.

The conflict in Syria is just as important, if only for different reasons. The pictures of dead civilians, including children, are devastating and unfathomable. They raise the many questions, mostly on the topic of what will happen next, especially in regards to U.S. military action. Will we invade? Will we bomb? If so, what will be the lasting outcome? Will this become another invasion and occupation, like our actions in Iraq?

Discussions of Syria are also important conversations worth having, but there’s no reason we can’t talk about both at the same time. Frankly, it reeks of elite snobbery, of saying “Look at me, I’m a better person than you because I care about Thing A over Thing B”.

But really, who cares if you care? Will your reading of a news article on Syria have any effect on the actions the President makes? Will seeing the photos of the dead children somehow stop more children from dying?

Of course it’s important to be informed about world events, especially if our nation is considering military action on another country, but caring about it doesn’t make you a morally superior person. A well-informed person, maybe, but not a better one. If anything, you’re co-opting one type of pain to dismiss another type of pain in order to paint yourself  as “holier than thou”. That definitely doesn’t make you a better person.

If you don’t want to care about Miley twerking, that’s fine, but stop acting like you have moral authority over other people’s attention spans.

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