Twitter was abuzz with comments about Miley Cyrus at the VMAs. I duly watched on You Tube, curiosity over the fuss taking me there. I shrugged. To me it was obvious she wanted to be ‘outrageous’, to be talked about but also I thought it was tongue-in-cheek – dancing with bears and using a foam finger to me was just silly.
Regardless of what she meant the tone to be, she has surely achieved what her goal was – publicity. She’s being talked about and in a world where pop stars seem to be everywhere, she’s made a mark. A splash even.
But it was shocking to many. Yet there are many shocking things happening around the world – murder, war, poverty etc. I’m not trying to make a political point here though. As a writer it’s interesting to think about what is regarded as shocking today. I have described my writing for teenagers as ‘edgy’ before but it’s so hard to define and perhaps edgy just means realistic. The world today can be shocking and as a writer you make a choice about how much to show of it in your writing.
Stories about future societies have become popular (see The Hunger Games, Divergent, Delirium etc) and maybe that’s because it’s easier to cope reading about shocking things when it’s not in our time or world or maybe it’s because we can recognise some of the harshness in our time or world.
I have no answers but it has made me more aware today of what can be determined as shocking and what as a writer I would define as such and what kind of shock factor I’d be comfortable with creating through my writing.
I do know however that shocking can sell. Look at Fifty Shades and let’s see Miley’s new album sales. In the end, some may be outraged but the ones who shock us often end up having the last laugh. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I don’t know.
What do you guys think?