Many Americans, not to mention the millions around the world, watched last night's VMA performance by Miley Cyrus and were shocked. People were confused, upset, disappointed and angry that the sweet, innocent "Hannah Montana" star had suddenly become a raunchy, drug taking, sex pistol. Her performance may just be one of the most glaring wake up calls the American people have ever had and may prove to be more significant than 9/11.
Terrorists kill people and that is definitely something to be alarmed about but what should be even more alarming are the factors which influence culture. I have long coined the motto "Artists Run This Planet" because I truly believe artists (creators, inventors, dreamers) are the people that most influence culture because they set a path towards the future by creating ideals worth working towards. However, like any artist knows, there are enemies of creativity, sometimes twisting art for their own ends, those that would have the world canvas-less, colorless with no more art than a barcode.
What happened last night at the VMAs was nothing new for the music industry. When I say music industry I don't mean the millions of musicians across the world. No, I mean the music industry: the businessmen making money from musicians. Some people think the music industry changed because of the internet. It did, but it also changed in another significant way back in 1996 with the passage of the Telecommunications Act which broke down limitations of how many radio stations someone could own and through a wildfire quickness of take overs and buy outs the radio stations in America became a monopoly. There is a reason you only hear a handful of artists on any given station and why their songs are played over other artists. It's not because of their talent. It's because they were picked.
Any message, whether it's true or not, if it is repeated enough times, will be accepted. Music and television programming is not a blind man throwing darts and hoping for the bullseye of people becoming fans. Instead, it's more like making the audience blind and throwing the darts at them instead. We've been hit with so much degraded content that the culture has definitely shifted. Over time Miley Cyrus' performance may prove to be a welcomed event. Why? Look at how many people were turned off by her. It was as if the whole country said, "Enough!" People are not docile lab rats or hamsters that are supposed to run around in endless circles. We are lovers of life and we want to experience elevation, not degradation. We want to feel inspired when we look to our artists, not be repulsed by them.
Hopefully this event is a milestone and people finally decide that enough is enough and demand more from the music industry, radio stations, MTV and all the rest. In fact, we should be so outraged that we write letters to President Obama about this because any war he is fighting with guns in foreign lands is no where near as important as the war that needs to be fought to ensure we have an inspiring and uplifting culture, in America and across the world. Artists wage this war each day and there are some casualties like Miley, but we have to push through and do even more. Maybe I'm a dreamer but I sure as hell know I'm not the only one.
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In the early 1900's a young boy named Philo Farnsworth and his family moved into a farm home in Idaho with built-in electricity. Philo was enthralled with how electricity was used and stumbled upon stacks of technology magazines in the attic of his new home, as well as a burned out electric motor he began tinkering with. After further studies into this newly emerging technology utilizing electricity, Philo began to imagine a device that could operate much in the same way a radio did, except in addition to transmitting sound, it would also transmit moving pictures.
At 14 years old, he walked into his school and showed his teacher a design for the first television by drawing it on the chalkboard. The teacher was amazed and recommended he seek out professionals in the field at a nearby university. Within a few years that same boy would be credited as the inventor of the electric television and won the patent rights in large part to his teacher who had luckily written down the boy's design that one day. The rest is history. He went on to create many more inventions and garnered an unprecedented deal with RCA,.
Television has impacted the world in such a huge way that it becomes almost impossible to measure its true influence on the world. It has allowed for such a tremendous amount of knowledge and information to be shared across the entire planet. It has enabled us to view what transpires in any part of the globe as it happens without having to be there in person. It has allowed anyone to watch the World Series or a Presidential Inauguration or see their favorite singer. This invention has made its way into practically every living room in the world, changing our daily habits. It has also enabled computer technology,smart phones and countless other viewing devices.
It is truly remarkable that a 14 year-old boy living on a farm in Idaho discovered some old magazines, saw the potential in an emerging technology and imagined an entirely revolutionary new idea for spreading and sharing everyone else's ideas. Television has become such a monumental milestone in human interaction and it is all because a young boy took interest enough in the world around him to imagine a better world filled with something new. I dare to imagine what our world of tomorrow would look like if the 14 year-old boys of today looked to their own attics and burned out motors, studied, dreamed and ventured to write something on their teacher's chalkboard. I'm sure he'd see something important in the drawings. I know the world would.
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I'm David Carus. From overcoming one of the most dangerous cities in the country and graduating from one of the most prestigious colleges in America to leading an educational movement as a teacher and running for Congress at the age of 25, I decided the best hope our world has is through art.