Society continues to send a confusing message

By Tim Sinclair

When something works, people do more of it.

Millions of people buy iPhones every month ... so, Apple continues to make them.

Millions of people watch football games every week ... so, the NFL continues to play them.

Millions of people drink Frappuccinos every day, so Starbucks continues to serve them.

After being blasted for her "performance" on MTV's Video Music Awards a few weeks ago, one might assume then that Miley Cyrus would dial back her reworked (retwerked?) persona. Critics, celebrities and couch potatoes alike said the same thing afterward: "What in the world was that?" The former Disney Channel star's vulgar actions on stage left Will Smith, Taylor Swift and even Rihanna speechless. (And if you can shock Rihanna, that's saying something.)

However, with Monday's debut of Miley's new music video, it is clear things haven't gotten better. In fact, quite the opposite. The former Hannah Montana has taken her risque act even further. A lot further.

But why? Why would Miley continue on a path that so many people are offended by? Why risk being criticized and critiqued by the media and the masses? Why do something that doesn't work? Because we, as a society, are sending an incredibly confusing message.

Miley Cyrus' behavior on the VMA's was so distasteful, so offensive and so across the line that her "Wrecking Ball" video shattered single-day viewing records. Nearly 20 million people watched. Less than two days later, the video had well over 40 million views.

Back in July, when Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was featured on the cover of Rolling Stone, there was public outrage. So much so that Walgreens, CVS and many other stores refused to even stock the issue. Despite the boycott, weekly sales skyrocketed 102 percent, and the magazine's website traffic was up 41 percent from the week before.

As a society we're nauseatingly appalled and insatiably curious at the same time. We publicly condemn culture and then privately consume it.

The Apostle Paul writes in the Bible of a very similar struggle. He says, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." We all wrestle with this. Unfortunately, in today's consumer-driven society, the more we do what we don't want to do, the more we get what we don't want to get.

Tim Sinclair is part of WBGL radio's morning show and a public address announcer for many Illini sporting events.

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