Miley Cyrus commits social “blasphemy”

Posted by ntendeni
ntendeni
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on Monday, 07 May 2012
in Digital Blogs

Disney teen actress and pop star Miley Cyrus welcomed the month of March 2012 with a “blasphemous” tweet. She accompanied the word “beautiful” with a picture of a quote by Theoretical Physicist Laurence Krauss that included the phrases:

"You are all stardust. You couldn't be here if stars hadn't exploded, because the elements (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, all the things that matter for evolution) weren't created at the beginning of time. They were created in stars. So forget Jesus. Stars died so you can live."

Cyrus received a backlash from some fans and followers who previously thought that she was a Christian. Those who accused her of ditching Jesus for fame were shocked by the bold tweet which did not complement her child star, good girl and role model image. Of all the phrases in the whole quote, the most shocking was:

“So forget Jesus. Stars died so you can live."

The rage from those who thought her tweet was “blasphemous” and anti-Christian did not make Miley apologise or back down. Six days after the tweet, she responded to the criticism by tweeting:

"How can people take the love out of science and bring hate into religion so easily?"

She followed this question a minute later by quoting legendary Theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein:

"It makes me sad to think the world is this way. Like Einstein says “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.”"

Challenging religious beliefs

The backlash against Cyrus offers an interesting case study to those who have studied in the Arts and social sciences.  The word “blasphemy” has to be put in quotation marks in the same way as as “race”, “beautiful”, “sexy” and other qualities since it is regarded as a “floating signifier”.

“Blasphemy” qualifies as a floating signifier because it depends on who defines it, what the term means to different religions and how it changes over time. The meaning of the word and those above depend on the context and what is acceptable to society. Floating signifiers, as is evident in cultural theorist Stuart Hall’s studies of race, is any term that does not have a stable agreed-upon meaning, changes over time and depends on who is defining it, where and when.

Not all fans slated Cyrus's religious tweets. Some praised her for being bold enough to challenge Christian beliefs and some said they respected her more since the tweet showed a sign of maturity and intelligence. She received props from humanists, atheists, scientists or just general believers in freedom of speech. Some comments included:

“As usual religious people want freedom to believe in what they want, but as soon as someone says or quotes something they don't agree with they freak out. Miley Cyrus is kind of becoming awesome...”- Anthony Witkoski.

“As a secular humanist, I'm liking miley Cyrus more and more. I have a feeling she will be a great role model in the future for fellow free thinkers :)”- Nick John Hobbs.

“I now actually respect her. I hope she stands by what she said. Don't let a braindead fanbase bully you around, Miley”-Joseph Kowalski.

Social media: a saviour for nonconformists

miley_cyrus_personal

Social media is a saviour to nonconformists such as Cyrus because it is faster and there is no need to get permission from anyone before publishing something. The duration process to publication is shortened. Instead of waiting to find a space on television, radio or print, one can publish in a second. It would have been difficult for her to express herself or respond quickly in legacy media. However, due to the benefits of social media, she is able to say anything she wants at an instant.

Nonconformism comes with consequences whether one is a celebrity or not. In January 2012, a 31-year-old Indonesian atheist was arrested for “blasphemy” for updating a Facebook status saying:

"God doesn't exist".

In a country like Indonesia where one can face up to five years of jail time for “blaspheming” against Islam, he would not have had the opportunity to express his views because he would have to first go through a long channel to have his views approved for legacy media.

Nonetheless, even with social media and laws that encourage freedom of speech, religion is still more popular that anti-religion on social media. While searches like Jesus on Facebook’s search page show numerous results with more than a million followers, searches like “atheism” or “atheist” show no single result with more than quarter a million likes. In fact, the most famous one, Atheism, does not even have quarter a million likes.

You would think that in the year 2012, full of science, reason, freedom of speech, right to religion, a move towards tolerence and diversity, no one would be bashed for having a certain view. However, Miley's case proves that as much as the world can change and technology becomes more and more advanced, traditional religious beliefs and well-established ideologies are not easy to shake. The backlash shows that while some might see social media as a platform to practise freedom, some wil hate it for challenging popular beliefs.

This incident also means that certain celebrities are expected by their fans to live according to certain values. Fans of Cyrus expect her to follow Christian beliefs and any conduct that puts her in the "good girl" category. But the question remains. Aren't we being hypocrites for being pro-freedom but failing to allow people to live their lives the way they want to? Why do we have to promote the "Be Yourself" principle but bash who are themselves?

Related links:

1.      Miley Cyrus Responds To Twitter Attack For 'Forget Jesus' Tweet: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/miley-cyrus-responds-to-twitter-attack-forget-jesus_n_1326820.html
3.      Watch: Atheism In Social Networking (My Brutal "Attack" On Religion): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vz_mMYsvBKA
4.      The 5 Coolest Ever Atheist Social Networking Sites: http://voices.yahoo.com/the-5-coolest-ever-atheist-social-networking-5525737.html
5.      Pharma Social Media Religion Versus Science: http://pharmamkting.blogspot.com/2012/03/pharma-social-media-religion-versus.html
I am a 4th year Bachelor of Journalism student from Rhodes University. I have done print writing, radio, digital media and broadcast communication before but I thought that it would be a great idea if I just specialised on new media this last year of my degree. I have always found religion an interesting topic especially in this present time where freedom of speech and a right to choose religion are used to justify deviation away from traditional beliefs. The rise of social media means that people are freer than ever to expose, criticise, point out or scrutinise traditional religious practices. This would not be as easy if we were still living in an era where one had to get permission from legacy media and had to be a professional before getting a voice on television, radio or print. I am excited not only to write about how social media is being used as a tool to spread traditional religious beliefs, but is also being used for counter-action by non-conformists.

Comments

Shiraz
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Shiraz Tuesday, 08 May 2012

lame

i think its lame to compare the number of Jesus' followers to Athiest followers. what do u think Ntendeni?

simonearmer
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simonearmer Tuesday, 08 May 2012

Freedom of speech

There is no such thing as freedom of speech. It's an illusion.

ntendeni
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ntendeni Tuesday, 08 May 2012

never mind comment grammar

@lame. i think its not. why would it be lame to compare something to something? comparisons are done to show whats more popular. thats all. @simone- very tru. freedom of speech is an illusion at some level but can be made practical now and then. like now, u are commenting because you are free to do so, right?

Whocares?
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Whocares? Sunday, 13 May 2012

What about you?

What about you ntendeni, do you believe in God?

ntendeni
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ntendeni Monday, 14 May 2012

I am not ashamed to say I am a believer in Jesus

i do believe in God. Not only that, I am a devoted christian and this is where it becomes a challenge: reporting fairly without using my beliefs to dehumanise others

Ms. Gadget
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Ms. Gadget Monday, 14 May 2012

Blasphemy

Once upon a time, it was was heresy to say that the Earth revolved around the Sun.

What I find funny is that a good role model suddenly has the inherent meaning of being Christian. If anything should disqualify Cyrus as a role model it should be the pics she took of herself in her underwear at 14.

I say, if people can mention and promote their religious beliefs in social media, other should be able to mention and promote their non-belief.

ntendeni
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ntendeni Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Floating signifiers

That us why I emphasised that the word "blasphemous", similar to words like "race" and "white" are biased. They are called floating signifiers because it depends on who is naming what and with what intentions. What is considered 'blasphemous' by some is considered 'freedom of speech' by others. In the same way, when an American causes trouble in the Middle-East, they are 'freedom fighters' and 'heroes'. When a Middle-Eastern' does the same to America,they are labeled as 'terrorists'. Thanks for the insightful comment.

Muscadecipio
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Muscadecipio Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Girls will be Girls

LOL. I'm surprised people thought that MC was saying anything deep. IMHO she is just doing what most people her age do, look at something and think it is extremely profound. Whether it is an exposition on the origins of matter or a joke with the words "poop" in it by a movie star (lol, my own floating signifier).

In my thinking she should be shot go for calling Krause's comment "Beautiful". It is deep, it is profound and it is thought provoking. It is certainly not "blasphemous" even though we may call it irreligious (with no FS's).

Perhaps the response to MC should also be understood as that of young adults who feel strongly about nothing because they don't yet believe anything. I could never take MC seriously no matter how rich, famous or experienced she is. She remains an untested young adult who has not yet faced anything that will temper her to maturity.

ntendeni
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ntendeni Tuesday, 24 July 2012

thanks

thanks for the insighful comment and sorry for my late response. i went travelling and was on holiday and very far away from blogging. like i said, "blasphemous" is in commas because it is subjective

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