Tag: Nabokov

Miley, the Pope, and Nabokov

feminism in Yamhill contrast

(I have used this picture before – probably 2 years ago – and I found it again this week and it’s the only thing I can find to punctuate this post)

Stop expecting celebrities to be models of behavior for your children.  Stop expecting celebrities to be better than you expect  yourself to be.  I get that if the Pope were to be caught getting a blow job in a bathroom or if he suddenly broke into an explicit Rhianna song – grinding his hips suggestively – that he would be open to some deserved criticism.


When a person sets themselves up as a leader of morality and invites everyone to follow their righteous example they open themselves up for criticism when they get caught being human.  Because they proclaimed to be more moral and perfect than everyone else.  That’s a stupid thing for any human to do, obviously, but we’re not talking about stupidity today.

Most celebrities are performers of some sort.  Even the Kardashians who I don’t find the least bit engaging couldn’t have made celebrity status unless a lot of people found them entertaining.  You may not, and I certainly do not, but a lot of people DO.  They aren’t what I would call artists, exactly, though as I’m writing this I think they must be included in the branch of art that is both high and low entertainment.  They have the power to transfix people’s attention on them.  They have taken their lives and exposed themselves and have given the American public what it apparently WANTS.

The Kardashians give a lot of people the opportunity to feel better about themselves.  And the public doesn’t feel complicit in this exchange.  It doesn’t occur to them that they have enjoyed a spiritual blow job and are now shaming the people who made them feel such pleasure and such superiority.  The public argues that if the Kardashians don’t want to be judged and shamed – they shouldn’t put themselves out there like they do.  They shouldn’t act so stupid or make sex tapes.  They virtually invited all the hate that comes their way.  Right?  Just like a woman who wears a short skirt is begging to be raped.

Listen up – celebrities are performers who are there to entertain and have done it so well that they are “celebrated” widely by the public.  Performers are here to push the boundaries of what we think is acceptable.  To engage us in cultural debate.  To make us laugh, to make us cry, to make us dance, to make us think.  Artists, writers, musicians, film makers, comedians, photographers, and, God help me for saying this, even mimes: they are all performers and all of them show us some part of ourselves.  They reflect our culture back to us.  They force us to look at ourselves through different mediums, with different voices, with different perspectives, different backgrounds.  They push us forward and reveal our vulnerabilities, our ugliness, our bigotry, our hunger, and conversely our light and capacity to love.  They show us different truths – often uncomfortable.  They take us to our primal roots – tapping into our sexuality, our drive for survival, and the drumbeats of our oldest bones.

Artists and performers have never set themselves up to be moral leaders of civilization.  They are the people that traditionally question moral standards.  They are the part of our civilization that questions authority, religion, war, atrocities, and sexuality.  They are the people who expand our understanding by pushing boundaries.  Never has the artistic community agreed to be good moral examples for your children to model themselves after.  Always they have been the ones to encourage your kids to THINK beyond convention, to SEE more than primary colors, and to HEAR beneath the surface noise.  You don’t have to like what they do.  You don’t have to like them at all.  But don’t think that when someone reaches celebrity status they owe you anything.  Don’t think that they are obligated to behave how you hope your children will behave.  That’s YOUR job.

I’m not just pissed off at people making such a damn big deal about Miley Cyrus’s recent gross performance, I’m pissed that everyone keeps reminding her that she was a Disney kid, as though that obligates her to a life of  being what some people see as “wholesome” and sexless.  That it somehow obligates her to dedicating her life to PROTECTING YOUR KIDS FROM THE REALITY OF WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A REAL HUMAN BEING AND THE FACT THAT CHILDREN BECOME SEXUAL ADULTS.

Disney has never been my idea of wholesomeness.  Disney is about the gross homogenization of humans – uniformity of race and creed and standards of beauty as well as codes of conduct and the worship of the bible’s idea of “purity”.  The whole thing is disgusting to me.  But that isn’t even really the point.  The point is that if you happen to think that Disney and all its shows present a model of humanity that you feel your kids are safe being exposed to – that’s fine – but those are still just shows – entertainment.  They have very little to do with reality.  The child and teen performers used in these shows are not playing real characters.  They are not showing you their real selves.   Being in these shows does not mean you own their lives forever.  They will grow up and the chances are pretty good that they will have to do it in the limelight in front of you  and your judging family.

The chances are also really good that they will rebel against the fake wholesomeness they’ve been harnessed to for years.  They will explore what it means to be an individual in charge of their own image, their own rules, and they will test it to the limit.

The more people try to suppress and demonize sexuality the more power there is in exploiting it.

This country is definitely full of puritans with double standards.  If the people in this country weren’t in general so obsessed with the idea that sexuality is sinful and dangerous and dirty – Miley Cyrus would never have bothered to grind and lick her way through such a lewd performance.  Britney Spears would probably not have felt the need to break out of her chaste persona in such a garish fashion either.  The worst thing is how all this chastity and this biblical ideal of purity applies only to girls and women.  That’s a sick-ass double standard that I reject completely.

That brings me to the core of what truly disturbs me: the idea of sluts in the first place.  The idea that an openly sexually active woman with a strong libido is automatically a slut.  If a woman feels good about her body and likes showing it off – she’s less moral than a woman who covers herself completely.  Naturally there’s always some element of sexuality to showing off your body – but that doesn’t make it unwholesome.

Personally I don’t care to see half naked people in public.  But I will defend their right to do it without being morally judged for it without you or I knowing anything about their actual morals which, to me, boils down to how you treat other human beings and animals and the planet and has zero to do with how much skin you show or how many orgasms a week you think are necessary for your health and well being.

But men can go around in public without shirts, completely bare chested and nipples shining in the sun, and NO ONE ASSOCIATES THAT WITH THEIR MORAL FIBER.

What the fuck is up with that?!  I don’t personally want to see anyone walking around shirtless.  But if men can do it then women should be able to do it too.  I am offended that if I so much as wear a low cut shirt that shows a lot of cleavage my moral fiber will be called into question while no one calls a man’s morals into question when they show off their butt crack and 50% of their underwear in public.


has ever questioned the moral fiber of a man walking around in public with his shirt off.  At worst his taste may be called into question.

How is it we have come to 2013 and we still, as a society, expect women to not be openly sexual beings, that we still call all women sluts who dress in revealing attire without actually having any idea at all about her actual sex life and without knowing anything at all about how she treats herself and those around her?  How is it that we still have different standards for men than for women when it comes to codes of conduct and to sexuality?

Miley Cyrus is not a celebrity I have ever cared about or watched – I see only the headlines that she is featured in in the grocery stores.  I did not watch her recent performance because I knew at once it wasn’t something I would enjoy.  From the images I’ve seen it is what I would personally consider in very poor taste.  It seems there was a racist aspect to it too.  The whole thing sounds like it was a calculated train wreck.  I don’t know if she’s smart enough or political enough to be stirring the masses with a statement on sexuality or if she just wanted to shock people – one thing I do know is that I am not privy to her personal life and I have no right to judge her moral fiber based on a performance she did for a show.  I don’t have to like her style or anything about her but I will stand up and cry shame on everyone who is calling her a slut and slamming her for not being a good role model to their children.

Remember when Nabokov wrote a book about a pedophile and the 12 year old he had a sexual relationship with?  And in this book the 12 year old is shown to be the seducer, not a victim?  Remember how in spite of any shock people might have felt about the story they didn’t accuse Nabokov himself of being a pedophile?  Remember how his book about a pedophile is considered one of the most important classics in modern literature and how he is celebrated for this gross and disturbing story and didn’t have his own moral compass questioned?

Yeah – everyone can go fuck themselves and their double standards.  Is it because Nabokov is a man that his own sexuality was never questioned, or because his self expression was contained between the covers of a book and not performed live on stage?  A writer writes what is interesting and personal to them just as musicians and singers do.  But both are still presenting something that is not truly autobiographical.

Miley performance was a performance.

You can slam her performance as lewd and ugly and racist – but be careful that you are only slamming the art and not making judgements you’re not qualified to make about the performer herself.  She’s still a person, a young person finding her way out of a repressive persona, and like most of us is making some big messes in her life.

And look to yourself and your own messes.  Ask yourself if you are perfect.  Ask yourself if you are completely free of mistakes and messes and poor decisions in your life.  Are you?  Because I can tell you right now you’re not.  Because you’re human.

I truly hope Miley doesn’t have a whole lot more of this kind of performance in store for the public, but if she does, all I see is someone who deserves the space to reinvent herself, to rebel, and to explore all that it means to be a sexual being.

The good thing about all this outcry and awful slut-shaming is that it’s reminded me to be more mindful of what I say, it has reminded me that I must be watchful not to add to this atmosphere of repression and meanness.  We all know I have a poor opinion of Angelina Jolie but I think I need to spend some time examining the judgments I’ve made about her and maybe letting some of them go.

It is making me want to be better than I am.