Admiration vs. Adoration: A Lesson for the Culture of Fame


Two nights ago, Miley Cyrus put on the performance heard ’round the world when she gyrated and…um…twerked (I just…I don’t even know what that means. Because I am old) on national television in her skivvies.

I had no idea all this was going down, of course. See above comment about being old. I was too busy folding my laundry and watching HGTV. I didn’t even know the VMA’s were on at the time…lucky me.

I heard about it the next morning, though, as the internet blew up with images of the former teen star that left me feeling like I needed to bleach my eyes. I left the computer so very, very sad. I won’t say much more about Miley here because enough has been said about the unfortunate “coming of age” performance already. Personally, I’m a fan of Annie Down’s take on the matter and I would love for you to take a minute to read her thoughts.

They’re the same as mine, only more eloquent.

As I’ve digested and, quite frankly tried to forget, the images I saw of her performance, I’ve found myself increasingly disheartened and saddened by this culture we’ve created that builds gigantic platforms for our youngest and most vulnerable, placing them high for the world to see, then watching and cheering as they touch the sky…and more often than not come crashing back down.

Fame is an ugly beast, and a pedestal is not place for a child, or an adult for that matter. Emily Freeman said it best in her post, “One thing that will make your soul explode.” Our souls weren’t created for fame. God did not intend His most prized creation to be lauded and loved, worshipped and adored, held on high as an example and role model.

Such sentiments were to be reserved for Him. Man (woman, child) can’t handle that pressure, because we simply weren’t created to handle it.

A few weeks ago, news broke of Cory Monteith’s accidental heroine overdose. I’ve long since stopped watching GLEE, but still my heart dropped with the knowledge that this young life was cut short and for what? Why?

Britney, Miley, Amanda, Lindsey, River, Cory, Heath, and the list could go on and on. Last night, I Googled “stars who died of a drug overdose” and came up with a list of 245 names.

And that’s just the ones who died.

Kids like Miley are thrown into a system that produces stars, and in front of the world these kids have to figure out who they are, what they believe, who they want to be and how to do it all while people scream their names. Who’s looking out for these kids? Who is standing on the side, brows furrowed, shaking their heads furiously at the foolishness of it all.

It’s not the people who are close to them, and this is something I struggle to understand. And yet, I cannot assume that I would be any less blinded by the allure of fame if it were presented to me or my child. I get it – I really do. If you have a talented child with a love for performance, as a parent you want to see that grow. But there has to be a stopping point – there has to be protection, and at some point we have to realize that too much exposure is simply not a good thing.

There’s a fine, but sure, line that stands in between admiration and adoration. I admire the talent of many people. I enjoy watching good movies and exciting television shows because I admire the creative talent of the entertainers. I get chills when I hear a stirring song and sometimes, when I close a book, I hold it for a very long time, wishing it didn’t have to end.

I admire many people. But what happens when admiration changes to adoration? What happens both to me, and to the person who is now being adored?

Miley Cyrus has been adored and her pedestal was thrust very high before she had the balance to stay on it. Shame on the system that put her there. Shame on the fans who adored her more than admired her.

I think it’s time that those of us who aren’t blinded by fame to start doing our part to protect these kids. It seems impossible to think that we could have any impact on the Hollywood culture that makes stars out of preteens, but we can do little things like teach our own children the difference between adoration and admiration. We can show our young ones that the arts are to be celebrated and admired, not worshipped. 

Perhaps it’s time we stopped giving in to this culture of fame, holding it up as if it’s something to be worshipped. Fame is a smoke screen, and our children need to know that. It’s not funny when a young star falls from grace. It’s time we stopped laughing it off, shrugging our shoulders and assuming it to be just one more misguided youth. We’re better than this. Our culture, our kids, our young stars – we’re all better than this.

We need to be better.