Change vs Stagnation

Confession time: I did not watch the Video Music Awards on MTV. There are a number of reasons for this. Chief among them is the fact that I am a grumpy old man who is completely out of touch with anything that is going on in the world of entertainment so I just don’t watch awards shows.

None of them.

I don’t watch the Oscars or the Emmys or the Tonys or the Grammys. I don’t even watch the People’s Choice Awards. The odds are that I will not have seen or heard the vast majority of stuff that is nominated, so really, why bother?

Honestly, the closest I have come to an awards show was watching a recording of Zoe Bell being interviewed outside of the Saturn Awards.

There are other reasons I did not watch the VMAs. One of them is that I never watch eMpTyV. I was at the perfect age for Music Television to come along. I spent hours watching my favorite bands cavort and pretend like they could act their way through their songs. Then somewhere along the line
2 they stopped playing music and became the drunk moron network3. During the one hour and forty-five minutes that they actually show videos, they are showing people I can’t stand.4

Which leads us to the primary reason that I did not watch the VMAs, I am not fifteen years old, so I really don’t give a crap about who won the award for whatever.

That being said, I do not live in a cave. Just like everyone else in the world, I have been exposed to Miley Cyrus’ twerky gyrations. Apparently nothing else even remotely news-worthy that happened Monday because that was all I saw or heard about on the news.

Not that you asked, but I do actually have an opinion.

I honestly don’t give a fuck about what Miley does.*

She’s a pop singer. Do you know what pop singers do? They make annoying pop music. They make annoying pop music videos. Then they perform the songs from those videos live during ridiculous awards shows. For crying out loud, it is not like this is the first time anything remotely risque happened on MTV. Look at the rest of their programming. Look at damn near every VMA in the history of the channel.

It seems to me that a lot of the uproar has less to do with the general crapulence of the song in question (yes, I have been exposed to Miley’s music ) or the fact her tongue kept lolling out like an addict starting to come down and more to do with who she was and is now. A lot of the news stories I saw played up the “Former Disney actress” or “Former Hanna Montana star” angle. It seems that most of the outrage has to do with the fact that Billy Ray’s girls done got all grown up.

Attention world: Get the fuck over it.

That’s where that asterisk comes in to play. I don’t really care about Miley, but I wish everyone would shut up about how different she is from who she used to be. Not to go all Chris Crocker
8 on everyone, but Miley is a performer. She’s an entertainer. This is what entertainers do folks. They play a role for a limited amount of time and then they move on.

This is one of my all time pet peeves. I can’t stand it when the public attempts to limit the range of an entertainer by pigeon holing that individual into one role. This goes for actors, musicians, and (or course) writers. How many great actors have shied away from roles in horror, science fiction, or fantasy because they were afraid of becoming type cast? How many great villains have we missed out on because the actors were worried about how their pubic would view them after the role? Conversely, how many actors were never given a chance at brilliant roles because it was outside of how the public already viewed them.

The same goes for authors. There are brilliant works of fiction which explore complex topics and comment on the human condition which are overlooked because the plot of the novel takes place in the realm of speculative fiction? Fortunately, this seems to be lessening, but there is still a distinct line between SFF and “Lit Fic.”

What about the author who has written a successful series but wants to move beyond it? Should these individuals be forever constrained to writing about the same characters forever?

I will give you a wonderful example of this. I first fell in love with
Cherie Priest’s writing when I read the Eden Moore series9. After this trilogy of gothic horror set in the South, Priest moved on to explore the steampunk genre. Her Clockwork Century novels are absolutely brilliant and are a welcome change from the typical gaslight and London fog material that one expects from the genre. Priest’s novels are set in the United States during the Civil War which has raged on long past its actual end. This is the rationale for the technological advancements which appear in the novels. She also does an amazing job of hypothesizing how the US would look if the Civil War had gone on for decades. The characters, from all different parts of the map, all feel real. They have a history in their own area, be it the South, the North, Texas, the wild areas of the Northwest. Still, she has not rested on her laurels, but has instead created another YA series and some stand alone novels, all of which are just as entertaining.

I guess the point that I am trying to make is that while we would all like our favorite entertainers to live forever in the worlds that they have created, that is not always the best idea. By limiting them to specific worlds, we run the risk of having their creative work grow stagnant. More importantly, we are limiting their ability to grow. By forcing people to live purely in the roles they have inhabited in the past we may be robbing ourselves of even better material.

1 As I have mentioned in the past, we don’t go out to see movies in the theater all that often. When we do it is usually something along the escapist end of the spectrum, the kind of thing which does not usually win awards. The majority of the television we watch is non-network. We go to the theater less than we go to the movie house and pop music is right out.

2 After an unfortunate writer’s strike opened the door for reality television.

3 A description which can now be applied to numerous networks including those who were originally tasked with education.

4 Now get off of my freakin’ lawn before I shake my cane at you.

5 Yep, I’m gonna share it with you too. You lucky bastards.

6 What’s with the asterisk? Don’t worry. We’ll get to that.

7 The very first VMA show featured Madonna writhing around in her wedding gown/honeymoon night outfit to “Like a Virgin.” Four or five years later Andrew Dice Clay would be banned for life for performing some of his nursery rhyme skit.

8 You know who he is. Don’t make me link to “Leave Britney Alone.” Remember Britney? Former Disney star? Any of this sounding repetitive?

9 Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Wings to the Kingdom, and Neither Flesh Nor Feathers.