Being Bad   5 comments

Three stories this week show how much our culture likes bad boys. And girls.  All three are blowing up in the media. The blogosphere is erupting with parenting advice and observations about the failures of youth.

I have a different perspective.

We like’m bad.

Bad - Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus and the unfortunately costumed Robin Thicke were the talk of the VMA awards.

Miley didn’t leave anything to the imagination at the VMA awards last Sunday. Her tongue was hanging out like a hot hound dog. And that’s the nicest thing I can say about her performance during the summer’s # 1 song, performed by that fashion failure, Robin Thicke.

The best observation of her performance, I thought, was from Jacobs Media, who are the leading consultants to rock radio in America. The link to their story is below, but here’s their essential point:

When the best thing a musical genre has going for it is the news that 70 year-old Paul McCartney plans to continue touring, that’s a definite message about where things are headed.

Now you may look at Miley’s latest antics at the VMAs and be outraged.  Of course, MTV couldn’t be happier – her performance was better than Fart Man and it couldn’t have come at a better time for a network that doesn’t make the news like it once did.

Why did Miley do what she did? To make herself a (bigger) star.

Did it work? You bet.

Did I watch it? Sure, the next morning. During the live broadcast, when Little Girl came upstairs to tell me I had to see this awful thing that Miley just did, I politely declined. There are some things you just don’t do with your children, at any age. They’re still my kids, even if they are adults.

Was it awful? Yup. But it was the talk of the nation. Isn’t that the goal of a pop star? We like our stars controversial … remember, John Lennon said The Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ. Miley took a more salacious path, but not a more controversial one. Remember Janet’s wardrobe malfunction? We’ve been here before.

And Miley didn’t even violate the FCC’s rules.

Now, turning to another controversial media sensation.

Bad - Manziel money

Johnny Manziel, AKA Johnny Football, has rubbed his thumb & fingers to symbolize money after big plays throughout his young career. It’s a common symbol in the culture, actually, and other players do the same thing. Does it endear him to the audience? Uh, no.

Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy last year, the first freshman to ever win the award as the most outstanding player in college football. He led his Texas A&M team to a great 2012 season, including the only defeat of the eventual national champion, Alabama.

But since he won the Heisman, he’s been a media train wreck. He said he couldn’t wait to get out of College Station (the home of his Texas A&M). It was discovered he was only taking online classes … he wasn’t in classrooms with other A&M students. He was seen flashing money in a casino. He attended sporting events and got VIP treatment … so it had to be explained that he came from oil money, and bought the premium tickets he received.

College athletes can’t receive impermissible benefits (such as free tickets to sporting events) for playing the game, less they incur the wrath of the NCAA.

So that’s what happened to Johnny Football. He was video taped signing autographs, allegedly for autograph brokers. He supposedly signed helmets and jerseys. Why would he do such a thing? According to ESPN’s unnamed sources, he was getting cash to pay for new rims for his car. According to the NCAA … no one would talk. So, they had little proof of why the hottest player in college football would sign autographs for people that wanted to sell them.

Perhaps it was all a misunderstanding? YES, that’s it. It was a little mistake. An inadvertent misstep. So, the NCAA agreed that Texas A&M should suspend their star, sophomore quarterback for the first half of their first game. When Manziel did take the field, he played very well. He didn’t keep his mouth shut, however.

I’m sure that his opponents had their jaws wagging at him throughout the half, and he gave as good as he got, apparently. That earned him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the wrath of his coach.

And when his coach was chewing on his ear, he seemingly ignored him and walked away. His coach denies that, however. He said his star player reacted appropriately by walking by him without pause while being yelled at.

OK. Good move. That kind of contretemps is why we’ll breathlessly watch Manziel all season. He’s a bad boy, he’s a great quarterback, and everybody wants to see if he veers off the tracks again, or if he grows up on the national stage to become a better football player. It’s the drama that we seek, and he’s bringing it like no one else in college football.

We like’m bad.

Which brings us, inevitably, to the best TV drama of this month, the end of Breaking Bad.

Bad - Walter White

Breaking Bad is the best show on the AMC Network – some would say the best show on television. It’s in the final 4 episodes of its 5th season right now, telling the story of Walter White.

White is a high school chemistry teacher that was diagnosed with cancer in the beginning of the series. In a ploy to build a nest egg for his family while fighting the disease, he uses his expertise in a chemistry lab to become the southwest’s foremost cooker of meth. This seemingly mild-mannered high school teacher lives in the ‘burbs with his wife and two kids … and becomes a stone cold killer.

His loss of any shred of morality over the last 5 seasons has made for wonderful (but violent) television. If you’re not a fan, you’ve got a great opportunity to start at season one and see what Walter White becomes in the final episode, scheduled to air on September 29. You’ll love it.

After all, we like’m bad.


Mr. SEC: Manziel and his coach

Washington Post: Manziel Didn’t Diss His Coach

Jacobs Media Blog: Miley, Rock Needs You

Rolling Stone: Breaking Bad’s 10 Best Kills

5 responses to “Being Bad

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. A media that has refined Me-ism and the lucre at the end of Me-Rainbow is one that has encouraged me to take longer walks through the jungle and spend more time on the beach watching waves roll in, as they’ve done for millions of years just because that’s what they do. I do despise the culture of Narcissism, but thank it’s adherants for pushing me out into the real world.

    • Absolutely correct: all 3 are interested in self-aggrandizement, and we that watch are the poorer for it. Well … at least the first two, playing out in real life. I rather enjoy Walter White, and it’s clear to all that’s he’s not a real person. For Miley and Johnny, they are all too real and the resultant spectacle is tragic for us all, IMHO.

      • I hadn’t watched that show for several years, but just recently discovered a Latino movie/TV channel on computer. I just started with the first season again, to get the sense of continuity going again…the pilot seemed so new and fresh. I think it’s going to be a kick getting back into the only TV show I’ve cared to watch other than Newsroom.

  2. Pingback: The Wardrobe Malfunction |

  3. Pingback: My Favorite Posts From Year 2 |

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: