Movie Reviews / Music / National Reviews / Opinions / Swirl of thoughts

Is Music Truly a Reflection of Society?


Miley Cyrus was quoted last week as saying Robin Thicke and she scripted the whole twerking shenanigans to, as she put it, “make history.” Upon hearing this, one has to ask, “Is this what our society has stooped to?” Have we become so shallow that the best one can come up with “to make history” is to fling your skinny ass on stage and twerk a married man in front of millions of viewers? Does this qualify as making music history? Well, you kind of have to ask yourself if socially everyone thinks this is all ok.

Throughout music history there has been bubblegum. Before Elvis Presley, tunes with words like “I’m gettin’ nuttin’ for Christmas” was all the rage and on the charts. Novelties in music is nothing new, of course, but what was novelty early on in the commercial music era seems quite innocent by today’s standards. Times change, and socially things shift, always pushing the edge of “acceptability” a little farther with every new generation. Elvis made “history” with his hip swinging style and provocative nature (much to the dismay of the mature public of the time). Society draws the line, and music artists always find a way to cross it.

But even looking at Elvis from the glasses of today, his music and performances, though sensational in their own right, are G-Rated compared to performers like Lady Gaga, Nikki Minaj, and a slew of hip hop artists. So, how did we get to this point? As a matter of fact, it didn’t happen overnight. It took several eras of edgy music to set the stage for what is acceptable now. And much of it can be attributed to the great number of social changes that have occurred since the 1960’s -and even as recent as within the last 15 years. The fact there is no public fallout or outcry (but no shortage of criticism) about the Miley Cyrus’ attempt “to make history” at the VMA’s is quite telling of the current “pushing of the edge just a little farther out.” This is because Miley Cyrus went from the cute little girl Hannah Montana to….to….this whatever it is she has become. By and large, all those little girls that loved her as Hannah, now see the world accepting her new, raunchy image. So the message society is sending out to the youth is crystal clear: It’s ok to be a tramp.

When you look at the big picture of American culture, you see a lot of tolerance to social change. That hasn’t always been the case. The rigidity of rules has lost its grip on the American psyche, and thus people can feel free to push the edge even farther out to who-knows-where. It may be something interesting to contemplate how the next generation of youth will view Miley Cyrus and the artists of this era. Will the raunchy style of now be tame by comparison to what is come in the future? From looking at history, there is no reason to think it won’t be. The edge is always being pushed out further and further, and the mainstream society at large isn’t putting up much of a fight to retain any of the dignities once protected in generations past.


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