Friday, June 18, 2010

When Humbert Met Lolita: Part 2 reported that Bret Michaels was to perform with Miley Cyrus today on "Good Morning America." The promo photo for the performance shows Miley, with a skimpy shirt, pulled up to reveal her waist, wearing one of Michaels' signature cowboy hats. Michaels is seen smiling, with his inflated pout and his arm around her.

The article refers to them as "family friends," but we all know what is really going on here. It's the same old Hollywood song and dance, the "Battle against Age" that forces underage female celebrities like Cyrus to strip down and branzenly exploit themselves, while overage males like Michaels defiantly flaunt their diminishing virility.

This tired dynamic should bore us all by now, or at least disgust us, but it doesn't. We keep clicking on the photos of Cyrus exposing herself getting out of a limo; we keep tuning in to the reality shows where washed-up celebrities like Michaels desperately try to convince us of their still-relevant sex-appeal.

Maybe these shows comfort us and serve as an escape from the everyday problems of our mundane lives. Maybe if we see Michaels, still rocking in 2010, still attractive to much younger women, we feel a little better about growing older ourselves. Cyrus is titillating, an escape from the bills we have to pay and the problems we have with our own children. We can look at her and say, "Well, things could be worse."

But are these images good for anyone (besides the promoters making loads of money off of this double exploitation)? Shouldn't young women be afforded more positive examples of maturity than just another clueless Lolita, taking her clothes off for money? Why can't she be celebrated for being accepted to Harvard or for some kind of writing or directing exploits? And why can't Michaels show us how to age gracefully, without a horde of women surrounding him? Why can't he be celebrated for his wisdom or his business acumen? He did win "Celebrity Apprentice" after all.

Sex is one of life's greatest mysteries, the thing that defines and confuses us the most. We seem to think we can master it through studying the exploitation of others; as if a more thorough understanding of it will be gleaned by reveling in celebrity degradation. When will we finally realize that true understanding does not come from another reality show or scantily clad young beauty. True understanding comes from self-analysis and respect for others, even the clueless young and the undying old.

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