19 was an interesting year for me: for starters, I got kicked out of college. Well, that’s probably harsher than it sounded: I was politely asked not to return. There, that’s better.
But it got worse.
I spent my 19th birthday sleeping on someone’s desk, not because I was drunk but because I dicked around too long and missed the bus back to my aunt’s house. I had my first younger man-older woman relationship at 19 and it was awesome! Got fired for the first time. Not so awesome. I got caught messing around with a girl in her father’s house BY HER FATHER. Really not awesome. I would go out and get drunk with my friends, drinking 40s of Old English at the top of the Mall of America parking lot and dropping the empty bottles over the side. I got drunk enough that I lost the ability to recite the alphabet. In front of my little sister.
As you can imagine, that Brother of the Year trophy looks amazing on my mantle.
Between 19 and 21, I was a high-ranking official in the global DMFRH operation. I bought a car and summarily got it repossessed. Seems they really like those payments on time. I moved into a townhouse with my best friend, only to find out that our other roommate (a girl) was having sex with her first cousin. I left. I got into my second older woman-younger man relationship and almost got kicked out of college for the second time (apparently those institutions of higher learning don’t appreciate you getting all extra-curricular with their administrators). I got kicked out an Embers, which is one step lower than a Perkins, for lipstick on my glass (note: I DO NOT wear lipstick). I got kicked out of a movie theater at the Mall of America for having an aggressive Malcolm X conversation too close to a white couple—then intimidating them in said theater.
My scared straight moment didn’t come until I was standing next to a girl that got shot. Before that I was an idiot. I was such an idiot that, at 22, I looked back and said, “Damn, I did some dumb shit.”
You probably did too.
Which brings me to Miley Cyrus. I’ll pause for that “Wait, what?” moment. OK, so follow my train of thought. I have a job. That means I can only watch ONE show on MTV and my choice is Ridiculousness (unless Catfish is on—that’s my shit). If you know me, and by now you do, you know I cannot resist any show that is going to give me videos of people getting fucked up AND have commentary. So I’m watching Ridiculousness and giggling and then there is this commercial for the VMAs and it starts with the Beastie Boys’ “No Sleep Til Brooklyn” and shows a bunch of people in the sewer. And here’s my stream of consciousness train of thought:
“No Sleep Til Brooklyn? Are they honoring the Beastie Boys at the VMAs? Didn’t they do that at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame already? And didn’t one of them die? That’s gonna be awkward. Why are they in the sewer like a bunch of Michael Jackson back up dancers? Who the hell? Miley Cyrus? Is she that big of deal? Well, that song “We Can’t Stop “ gets stuck in my head every time I hear—godammit, it’s stuck now.”
And that’s how we get to Miley Cyrus.
When Hannah Montana was popular and the Honey Badger wanted a Rock Star birthday party, I distinctly remember saying, “Who the hell is Hannah Montana?” Turns out she had a show and an album and a movie and bedsheets and all kinds of other Disney shit. Next thing I know, she has a song that I can’t get out of my head, is twerking what she doesn’t have and grown women are calling her a “skank” and a “ho.”
I’ve admittedly done stupid shit. So have you. But there was a limit on my stupidity mainly because I was a) anonymous and b) poor. Think about it. Most 20 year olds doing dumb shit are college students and college students are notoriously poor. Poverty keeps your stupidity in check in the same way your body secretes a hormone to lock your muscles so you don’t act out your dreams. It’s a natural limiting factor.
Imagine being 20 and stupid and famous and having $120 Million Dollars. Why that’s enough money to do…whatever the fuck you want. What limits do you have? And what do you have to look forward to? Most college students inherently have some limit because of their financial situation and because they eventually have to buckle down and figure out how to pay off those student loans. But what happens when you come into your 20s with a career and millions of dollars? Well, you lose your fucking mind!
Now I’m not a Miley Cyrus fan. I’d feel too much like a pedophile if I were. But I think the harsh judgment against a 20 year old being 20 in the public eye is both unfounded and a little two-faced. We’ve all done stupid shit—it’s a rite of passage—and whether that is limited to Pabst Blue Ribbon-laced hook ups and manufactured slip-n-slides in dormitory hallways or it’s music videos shaking your no ass and smoking marijuana (which is legal in my state), it’s all the same stupid shit.
And we’ve all done it.