God Bless the VMAs: Pop Culture matters to American society

By Sarah Scales, Web and Social Media Editor

Mugs_RH August 20, 2015-35

“Can we please turn off the VMAs and watch something that actually matters?”

The MTV VMAs aired Sunday night and, as expected, was filled with many jaw-dropping moments. While scrolling through Twitter, I came across a few complaining about the over-glorification society puts on celebrities these days.

But is this really such a recent phenomenon? People have been fascinated with celebrities for ages. Mozart couldn’t walk across stage without women frantically trying to gain his attention in not-so-appropriate ways. Don’t even get me started on the Beatles. From Beethoven to Brad Pitt, there have always been people “fangirling” over the famous.

But in the big scheme of things, is it that big of a deal if Miley Cyrus danced on stage half-naked? Probably not, but maybe it is.

Our society seems to only put value on the tangible — a stronger economy, more accessible healthcare, etc. These are things that are easy to root for, to see the benefits of and to pursue. There is no doubt about the importance of these things. Who we vote for matters. Who discovers the cure for cancer matters.

But art is subjective. You may not like some art, but imagine a world without it entirely. Without music, without movies, without pictures, without fashion, without art. It seems almost dystopian.

Now, whether we pay for music on iTunes or stream it on Spotify, whether we use our friend’s Netflix account or we watch the blockbuster film in theaters, the arts have value.
It’s the song you dance to at your wedding. It’s the first film that made you cry. In a world where math and science majors are needed “now more than ever,” I’m here to say that the arts matter, too.

Art is personal, perhaps more so than any other profession. Knowledge about the inspiration helps the consumer grow an appreciation for the art itself. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

When we vote for a candidate, we naturally are interested in learning about their personal life. The same way a politician’s personal life may affect the way they lead, an artist’s personal life affects the creations they produce.

Why should we care what celebrities have to say? Art is a reflection of our thoughts and ideas. What these celebrities say and do, not only gives consumers insight, it helps us develop our own ideas and opinions as well. They add to the ever-growing and needed discussion of things that do matter. Emma Watson’s speech made feminism relevant to a younger generation. Wall-E brought to light the importance of keeping our planet green. “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis advocated for LGBT rights.

So yes, celebrities have a huge range of influence, mostly over the minds of the youth. We follow them on Instagram, they endorse products and politicians, and perhaps sometimes their recognition has been taken a little too far.

At the end of the day, people like Kanye West, as controversial as he is, is a creator of art. Deserved or not, his creations are widely popularized. Creating a piece of art that is consumed by millions who have a personal connection to it is something to be celebrated.
Those that have accomplished the extraordinary should be rewarded. The Olympic athlete that jumps the highest, runs the fastest, throws the farthest wins the gold medal. The scientist that makes a breakthrough in research wins a Nobel Prize. The candidate with the best platform wins office.

Let the actor win their Golden Globe and the singer win their Grammy. Let artists be rewarded for the value to society that they bring.

Plus, one of these artists might just announce that they’re running for President of the United States, and suddenly what they say really matters.