The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

October 9, 2013

America's cultural chasm

Denouncing the dysfunction in Washington has become a cliche. For a change of pace, let’s decry the putrefaction in American popular culture. (There are bright spots, but those will have to await another column.)

Miley Cyrus is America’s id. She is all desire — for fame, for attention, for money — without any mediating influences like conscience, character, prudence or taste. America celebrates her. She gets some criticism, but she can laugh it off, because she knows she’s cool. Do you doubt her importance? She hosted Saturday Night Live this week — the apotheosis of hip.

Reviewing her performance on SNL, USA Today declared that Cyrus had “steered clear of controversy.” Seems low standards are contagious. Riffing about her VMA act, Cyrus boasted that she heard from “angry mothers” and “turned on fathers.” Nice.

During the show, she and the SNL cast performed an incredibly raunchy version of one of her songs (but I repeat myself) keyed to the government shutdown. Cyrus gyrated and faux-masturbated as Michelle Bachmann, while Taram Killam was featured as a very gay, pierced, underwear-clad John Boehner who humped whatever was nearby.

Ah, nothing like good fun for Saturday Night Live and America’s tongue-lolling sweetheart. We all need to loosen up, don’t we? It’s just a joke. SNL portrays Barack Obama in similar ways all the time, right?

The hippest show on TV illustrates the cultural chasm that separates liberals and conservatives. Liberals laugh as conservative politicians are depicted in porn-style videos. But if a rodeo clown dons an Obama mask, it’s a month-long scandal. (The rodeo organizers apologized to Obama.)

Even if SNL were to turn the tables and lampoon Democrats in similar fashion, conservatives would be repelled by the vulgarity, not amused. There’s another scandal in this story. Saturday Night Live apparently got good ratings for Cyrus’ appearance.

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