What's with the image? Oh, that? Yea, that's the cover of Miley Cyrus' new album. So, not only does it assault your ears, but your eyes as well.
This week has been one of utter bewilderment to me as we’ve been front row to some of the most tragic exhibitions in narcissism of our age. Seriously. Not even utilizing hyperbole here.
Let’s start with in Roanoke, Va. where a disgruntled former employee of a news station decided to not only take the lives of two individuals who he didn’t even really know, and then broadcast it all on social media. Literally. Not only did he commit his heinous act on live television, but he also filmed the murder in first person point-of-view and then uploaded it to social media. And as we tug at the string of the tangled up mess of a person Flanagan apparently was, we learn more and more that it’s essentially because he felt like he’d been disrespected and wanted attention. His home was full of pictures of… himself. He killed two people who, again, he didn’t even really know, and somehow jumped right past ending their lives to instead talking about himself. He even sent ABC News a long-winded diatribe about what was motivating him to commit such a heinous act. Regardless of those elements, the fact that the chose a moment such as live television and then decided to give us a first person POV through social media was just mind-boggling. Why such a need for attention? Career is fading, looks are fading, and there just isn’t anyone taking his complaints seriously anymore and that amounts for this breakthrough moment where he decides to commit murder? We know no one was taking his complaints seriously because of multiple individuals with him he had worked with that offered the sentiment that Mr. Flanagan was always ready to take offense to something. He’d filed a lawsuit against a former employer and many co-workers also noted that Flanagan himself was difficult to work alongside. When people stop paying attention, you lash out.
Now, cut to MTV’s annual Video Music Awards (VMAs) where host Miley Cyrus yet again begged our attention through a series of weird outfits that leave little, and I mean little, to the imagination. And this has, sadly, become the modus operandi for Cyrus: wear something utterly ridiculous and revealing because that will get attention. Earlier in the week she made an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel wearing a rainbow outfit complete with caplet and in exchange for a shirt, she simply wore heart-shaped pasties. Cyrus was also part of Kimmel gag where she went out on the street incognito and asked strangers what they thought of Miley Cyrus. Ultimately we arrive at the same conclusion: when people stop paying attention to you, you start doing whatever you can in order to get some attention, positive or negative.
Now, it’s obvious that Flanagan and Cyrus are two totally different people with vastly differently plans for how to gain our attention, but the reality is that both instances are rooted in some sense of narcissism. After all, one of the pathological personality traits of narcissism attention seeking. Individuals engage in excessive attempts to attract the attention of others. And it’s quite sad in the case of Miley Cyrus because the two things that brought her fame, film and music, are no longer the things with which we associate her.
In fact, her last album is known less for it’s musical content and more for the absurd spectacle of the music videos it spawned.
Again, the cases Flanagan and Miley Cyrus couldn’t be any more different in their approach and I don’t mean to make it seem as though I’m trying to marry the two. Flanagan, after all, killed two people. Miley is merely guilty of making many of us ill. But both cases do highlight this weird need for attention and I think it’s something we should all consider. Especially since we live in such an age where all our lives aren’t as private as they once were, not with social media being such a central factor in modern society. Social media, in some ways, has allowed us all to create our own personal paparazzi. Instead of a swarm of photogs chasing us down, we can hit the front-facing camera on our smartphones and snap away. We live in a culture where not only are selfies a part of the norm, but we’ve also created special sticks that allow us to fine-tune the perspective.