Alright, alright, alright, enough of you dear folks have written to me asking me my thoughts on Hannah Montana…err Miley Cyrus’ MTV VMA stunt on Sunday that I felt I really ought to address it. Truthfully, I have put it off all day, mainly due to the fact that I am about to defend Hannah…err Miley and that is not something I have ever wanted to do.
Sunday night, for those of you that missed it and/or are too lazy to click on the above link, Miley Cyrus, instead of personally accepting her MTV VMA award for her video Wrecking Ball, sent a 22-year-old (homeless? formerly homeless? this was never made clear) gentleman on stage to accept the award on her behalf and make a speech challenging viewers to join Miley in championing the cause to care for homeless youth in LA. On her Facebook page she encourages folks to donate with the incentive to enter a lottery in which there is a chance to win a trip to Rio with her.
Truthfully, my first thoughts when seeing this and learning of the contest were, “oh brother, this was so clearly a publicity stunt, if anyone falls for the idea that this is coming from her heart they are a moron.” And you know what? I still kind of think that. (I’m sorry, I drank the Miley haterade after last year’s VMAs and that’s very hard high to come down from.)
But the reality is, whether from her heart or not (and I mean honestly, I have never met the little twerker, I have very little right to judge) thousands of people got a glimpse of this young man’s story and whether they chose to ignore it or not were challenged with his bold and powerful statement, “The music industry will make over $7 billion this year, and outside these doors are 54,000 human beings who have no place to call home,” which is very, very accurate and something worth considering when deciding where to put your dollar.
I don’t believe Miley executed this perfectly, it annoyed me that she sat on the ledge and cried into the camera, that felt a little gross, but if I’m being honest, I don’t believe that her actions at the VMA’s are all that different from yours or mine. In our most truthful moments we would all have to admit that we have done things that even if not our total intention, have been spurred on by our desire for praise — and heck, she raised a ton of money and spread awareness in her wake.
Truth be told, this concept is one that I worry about quite often. I am constantly in fear of writing about my experiences here on Skid Row for any benefit anything other than that of these folks I serve. I am afraid of crossing that fine line and exploiting people that I really care about and I am terrified of the idea that any person could ever read what I write and walk away thinking that I am showing off or get the impression that I am doing/saying any of this for applause. But then I hear stories from friends and readers, I get asked questions and dialogue begins and I am reminded that this is advocacy.
Yes, sometimes advocacy looks like humbly and quietly donating money to a cause you believe in- there is certainly a time for that. But other times advocacy needs to be a little louder, it needs to looks like running a marathon and begging your friends for cash. It needs to look like posting a facebook status standing up for what you believe in, even if met with opposition. It needs to look like speaking up to defend “the other,” even when it’s not favorably met. Sometimes it even needs to look like dumping ice water on your head, all in an effort to scream “I AM IN THIS WITH YOU.”
You will be met with opposition. People on the other side will be mad and argue that you’re wrong. But please my friends, please press on, we need you.
And in return, I promise to do my best to put aside the hipster cynicism that runs through my veins. The part of me that questions people’s intentions and balks at efforts that look different than mine. The part of me that thinks nothing popular could possibly be effective or the part that is simply arrogant enough to think that if it wasn’t my idea, it wasn’t a good one.
I think we still have a long way to go in this thing, but I believe that something good is happening.
So thank you Hannah Mon…dammit, Miley. (I will get this sooner or later.) Thank you for dumping the proverbial bucket of ice water on your head in the name of our homeless brothers and sisters. Run along now and grab yourself a towel before you meet up with your dad to twerk to Achy Breaky Heart.*
*Dear lord in heaven Miley, if you ever actually do this, please do not post a video of it, I simply will not be able to defend that.