ACCRUING TITLES TO YOUR NAME (and misplacing your treasure) By John Watts


“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Mathew 16:26

'How long is this 'walk of fame'... We're into reality stars now.'

‘How long is this ‘walk of fame’… We’re into reality stars now.’

Recently I was watching an episode of “The Voice” with my wife and as we were gearing up for the next round of competition, the announcer excitedly announced that for this special episode only, the great Miley Cyrus had agreed to be a voice coach for all the other contestants.  The fanfare from all this was gigantic (like a really BIG Donald Trump pronouncement) with lots of awe and disbelief generated from the star struck up and coming singers.

And I was particularly struck by the list of titles attributed to Miley Cyrus in her intro.  She was praised as a hall of fame singer, songwriter, actress, courageous vegetarian, activist, humanitarian and philanthropist.  Really?  The announcer was positively breathless by the time he finished his list.

Now I am no expert on the career of Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana.  And she certainly came off as a very capable singer who knew how to share some very helpful tips on how best to sing various pop songs on stage, based on her comments on “THE VOICE.”  And I’m sure she probably does do some very nice things with all of her money—all of which is nice to hear and laudable in its own right.

But the image remaking that I heard, courtesy of this announcer, shows how fast celebrities can skyrocket their career branding and bounce back from disastrous public relations, simply because they happen to be famous.  And I’m afraid it has very little to do with America being a country of second and third chances either and has more to do with a slippage in our moral fiber in becoming blasé with HOWEVER the elephant in the room dresses up.

In fact all you need to do is be active in the public eye, survive your late teenage mistakes and remain profitable—and in the blink of an eye you can end up sounding like Mother Theresa or Albert Schweitzer or a combination of the two with Abraham Lincoln thrown in for good measure.

So who cares how distasteful her debauchery was during her “lost years” of twerking and trying on various Madonna hats in public?  It was merely artistic rebellion that’s all right?

Now Mylie Cyrus has found a way to sound classy and artistic simply from accruing titles as an industry insider.  How cool is that?  Without ever really contributing to culture in a meaningful way or ever leaving the safe haven of superficiality; this newly crowned artist can come off sounding mature and beloved as a person loaded with weighty titles.

It reminds me of that amazing knack that big corporations have for turning disastrous mistakes and accidents into major bragging rights and smart advertising.  Think of the way McDonalds can rip up the rain forests or tear up people’s cholesterol levels and then turn around and announce their campaigns to promote recycling and Earth Day and Better Eating through leaner meat!  Or how about the way the big oil companies can decimate sea life and then rebound a year later with their pledge to rebuild the Gulf communities because they are in it for the long haul!

What we learn is that celebrities and corporations have short cuts and bail outs that folks like you and me can’t come close to accessing or harnessing.  For the right amount of money and with enough repetition on TV ads, anyone or anything can sound like the epitome of family values and true love (remember folks SUBURU means LOVE right!?)

Surely, we live in a weird, surreal time of privacy and confidentiality extremes.  On one hand we have famous and non-famous people alike routinely sending ill-advised videos and twitter feed comments that threaten to ruin their careers and lives in a matter of seconds.  Nothing is sacred or private anymore when it comes to sharing some kind of statement or release.  Narcissism is rampant.  On the other, we have such ridiculous levels of confidentiality laws that regular citizens doing regular citizen things, have real problems accessing their own passwords to their own sites.  School kids can’t show off their art work or show their photos on wall displays because the proper Photo Release documents weren’t filled out with permission in time.  Meanwhile teachers become thwarted from creative collaboration and students are treated like top secret, fragile commodities in which their precious information can only be shared through legal consul and lawyerly advice.

What’s the lesson in all this that should jump out to us?  Probably something to do with the old fashioned notion that placing our treasures in the right places really DOES make all the difference.  Because deep down, even someone like Miley Cyrus probably suspects that a lot of her earthly accolades and titles don’t seem too helpful or genuine for her in the middle of the night when she is by herself.

Titles and ranks and important positions all have their place and can be deserving of respect.  But clinging to these temporary outcomes eventually leads to disillusionment and a broken heart.  Being cool sure sounds great in high school, but it sure loses its allure (hopefully) for us into adulthood.

And I’m sorry to break the news to all you congressmen and Hollywood folks—but being able to escape bad public relations nightmares as skillfully as Houdini isn’t the same thing as squaring yourself in God’s eyes either.

So I’m afraid that regular folks like us will just have to be content with struggling through our lives pretty anonymously, sometimes with the passing of many years in between the attainment of official awards or new titles.

Our mistakes and triumphs may not be as spectacular, but for the sake of happiness and eternity; I wouldn’t have it any other way!


About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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