Jayne: Biff and Bubba assess the latest downfall of civilization

By Greg Jayne, Columbian opinion editor

Published:

 

"It's an embarrassment," Biff said, taking another gulp of Budweiser, "a national embarrassment."

"What's that?" Bubba asked, swallowing the bait like a famished chinook.

"All that gyrating and hip-shaking, and all of it on national TV. It represents the decline of morals in this country."

"I know. That Miley Cyrus performance at the Video Music Awards on MTV was rather disgusting."

"Miley who? I'm talking about Elvis."

"Elvis? Elvis Presley?"

"Yeah. Remember when he went on the 'Ed Sullivan Show'? He was so provocative with all those gyrations that they wouldn't even show him from the waist down."

"Huh?"

"Yeah, it was this new rock and roll thing, and all the kids were crazy about it, and Elvis was rather scandalous at the time."

"Um, Biff, that was 57 years ago. Times have changed since then. Now we're worried about Miley Cyrus."

"Who's that?"

"She's a 20-year-old who masquerades as a singer, and last week she gave a shocking performance at some awards show."

"Shocking? Like gyrating her hips."

"Um, something like that. You'll need to see it; it defies description."

"I'd rather not. I'll take your word for it."

"No, you probably don't want to see it. It was sexually suggestive to the point that you felt bad for her parents. Or you wondered where they went wrong."

"That's the question about things like this," Biff said, suddenly growing philosophical. "Where are the parents? We see the sexualization of teens and young adults and we wonder where society has gone wrong. Shouldn't we place the blame on the parents?"

"I agree. That's the issue these days. Have you seen the way that some teenagers dress?"

"Especially the girls. Don't they have anybody to say, 'You probably shouldn't leave the house dressed like that'? Since when did belly buttons become something you had to share with the world?"

"Well, Miley Cyrus shared more than her belly button. She seemed to be obsessed with exposing her tongue. But I guess there's an audience for that these days."

"Maybe in some circles. In my mind it's not appropriate to dress or act like a skank."

"What can you do? Sometimes kids rebel against too much structure."

"I don't know. I think if you stress that there are standards you live by, and that the choices you make reflect your values, kids can respect that. It's called parenting."

"Good point. I wish more parents would do that. But, you know, kids always have used music and dancing as a form of rebellion against their parents."

"Yeah, remember how KISS used makeup and pyrotechnics? And how Britney Spears launched a career by exposing her navel? Mediocre talents turning shock value into success. So maybe this Miley character thought she had to do something provocative."

"Part of the ethos of popular music is to do something that parents won't like. Remember, The Who sang, 'Hope I die before I get old.' And now Pete Townshend is old."

"Heck, when I was growing up, my dad would say, 'I used to think The Beatles were a bunch of long-haired fops, but now I kind of like their music.'"

"Yep, even The Beatles were scandalous, supposedly the downfall of civilization," Bubba recalled. "And that was even before their long-hair days."

"So what about this Miley person? Is she the downfall of civilization?"

"Could be. On the other hand, we're still listening to Elvis and The Beatles decades later. I'm pretty sure Miley Cyrus won't have the same staying power. She doesn't have any talent."

"So, somebody with no talent thought they had to be provocative in order to get attention? You know what that tells me?"

"What?"

"The more things change, the more they stay the same."