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Slices of Life - A slippery path

September 13, 2013
Jill Pertler - Columnist , Dysart Reporter

I realize this is old news and I am way behind the times, but what's new? I've always been a little late coming to the party; I've been wearing the same jean jacket since the 1990s. Thank goodness they are making a comeback.

But, this isn't about the latest fashion trends.

My old news is in reference to the hype and chatter revolving around Miley Cyrus. Many people have expressed strong opinions about the subject, and about Miley. There's just one catch. I believe most of us are focusing on the wrong issue.

People are complaining, spouting and expressing outrage about Miss Cyrus' performance on some TV show I didn't watch and wouldn't have been aware of it had it not been for all the media hype: "Live at five: We'll have full coverage of Miley's derailing debacle."

Like everyone else who didn't know or care about the awards show - and never claimed to be a fan of Miley Cyrus - all the publicity piqued my curiosity and I did a quick search on the Google. And, yeah, I didn't like what I saw. But in my opinion, the issue at hand has little to do with the artist formerly known as Hannah Montana.

Oh, sure she was up on stage doing things I didn't think were appropriate for a television program aimed at young viewers, and she has to take responsibility for her behavior, but the issue is much larger than one 20-year-old or one TV show. Unfortunately.

It's about us. You, me - all of us and what we have become and what we are willing to recognize as acceptable public behavior. It is about a society that creates words like sexting and twerking; where blurred lines between good and bad - moral and immoral - are getting fuzzier by the moment; where being a bad girl is often more profitable and more desirable than being good one.

Before I go any further, I know with complete certainty there will be those who adamantly disagree with me. These good folks believe it is their right to watch Miley or whomever shake her booty and engage in the new dance moves that would have been previously censored on prime time TV. To them, people with opinions like mine are prudes who deny the beauty of the human body and the athleticism of twerking. They say if I don't like what's on TV, I can change the channel, because they have a right to do what they want, say what they want and watch what they want.

They can't stop and they won't stop, and that has me scared. Not for myself, because again, this isn't about one person. It's about all of us. Together. Going down a road that may feel good at first, but is bound to harm us in the end.

If I am uncomfortable watching a prime time television show with my children, I believe there is something inherently wrong with the situation. The proponents of Miley's performance, and others like it, tell me (again) to change the channel, because they have a right to watch what they want. We are becoming a society where feelings of personal entitlement trump the rights of others - including families. Without the basic family unit, a society will crumble.

The complete downfall of an individual or society doesn't happen overnight or with one controversial performance or act. It's a gradual process as our perception of what is acceptable evolves based on what we see and do. Our experiences shape our future and they can desensitize us over time. Right now, the alleged importance of claiming the personal right to do what we want makes us oblivious to the negative impact it may have not only on us, but families and society in general.

I wasn't bothered by the performance during the awards show, because I wasn't watching. But I am bothered by what it represents. TV carries over to real life, don't kid yourself. How far are we willing to stretch our definition of what's acceptable before it breaks? Before we - or our children - are broken? Before we have traveled so far down this slippery path that we are lost and unable to find our way back?

I don't have all the answers, but I think it is time for all of us to start asking the questions. In the meantime, I'll be changing the channel.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, playwright and author of "The Do-It-Yourselfer's Guide to Self-Syndication" Read more at the Slices of Life page on Facebook.



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