Yesterday the media was too busy drowning the country in the spectacle of the antics of a former Disney starlet at the Video Music Awards for a cable channel that no longer does music videos to report on the antics of a former community organizer who was busy sketching out plans for an illegal war that he had been on record as opposing.
Shamelessness is the quality that Barack Obama’s antics in Washington and Miley Cyrus’ antics in
Brooklyn have in common. Not merely a shamelessness that emerges out of a humiliating episode, but shamelessness as their fundamental attribute. A shamelessness that aspires to be cool because it appears to achieve the ultimate goal of coolness of not being bound by anything at all.
Miley Cyrus was once a Disney starlet. Obama was once anti-war. In 2007, he told voters that the president does not have the authority under the Constitution to unilaterally go to war unless there is an urgent threat to the United States. Now he’s planning a second war in which the only urgent threat is to the military prospects of his Islamist allies for taking over another country.
Obama’s shamelessness isn’t incidental to his actions; it’s their whole point. Like Cyrus, he is celebrating his liberation from any standard or value, triumphing over them through attitude alone. And in a world without morals or values, the only thing that counts is power and the will to use it.
It may be sex in Brooklyn and power in Washington, but both of the tawdry spectacles expose the elemental thing that is left behind when all virtues and values fade away. Without these things, the human animal becomes just that, a repugnant and irredeemable spectacle that attracts the like-minded and repels everyone else.
Without these virtues, why shouldn’t Obama break his word and get his war on? Like every moral dilemma that most people face, it’s only a dilemma if you have morals. If you don’t, then it’s no longer a matter of what the right thing to do is, but whether you can do it.
Or as Aleister Crowley put it, in between one of his bouts of Satanism and binging on cocaine, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law”.
That is the cheerful maxim of our Aeon of Horus, our entertainment industry, whose products can be seen on display at the MTV Video Music Awards. MTV long ago dispensed with much of the music, to make way for the drama of reality television. Its real entertainment product is people doing what they wilt and becoming famous for it.
From 8 to 11 AM, it’s MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, carefully branded in case anyone confuses it with A&E’s 16 and Pregnant or PBS’s 16 and Pregnant. Then it’s Teen Mom. In the evening there’s more Teen Mom. And if you make it to 4 AM, tune in to AMTV RISE & GRIND. And at some point, Barack Obama or Michelle Obama will show up to tell everyone to exercise and eat healthy.
Miley Cyrus’ performance embodied everything that MTV stands for; tacky, desperate for attention and in the real world, pregnant at 16.