What the Miley Cyrus VMA Scandal Taught Us About Gossip


As media coverage finally dies down on the Miley Cyrus VMA scandal, I think this is the best time to put in my two cents.

First, I’m confused with the double standards the entertainment media has. Entertainment journalists will not think twice about Lady Gaga baring her body, while Miley is quickly vilified. Granted, Lady Gaga has made her name by being shocking, while Miley’s claim to fame was Disney’s Hannah Montana. Still, I value consistency over hypocrisy. If only the media would pick their convictions and go with it: Should we praise hyper-sexualized pop music or not? It’s unclear. Instead, publications just flip flop and criticize when it’s convenient to sell papers or gain page views.

But that’s all another topic for another day. To me, the deep-rooted issue at hand here is gossip. It’s not just the media at fault here, but you and me: the readers, the viewers, the water-cooler discuss-ers. Christian or not, we somehow feel entitled to talk down on celebrities, as if they weren’t human.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying there’s no room to constructively critique unbiblical and destructive behavior promoted by celebrities or the media in general. My entire blog’s purpose is exactly that. But we must examine our motives when we thoughtlessly tweet, post or otherwise share our opinion on the latest celebrity gossip. Am I speaking out of a genuine concern for this celebrity or with any hint of malicious intent?

As I like to ask myself: Am I building up this celebrity by making this comment? What if, instead of speaking about this celebrity, I lifted him or her up in prayer?

My good friend Fallon Prinzivalli, frequent guest contributor on this blog, tweeted the other day, “Miley cried during her first live performance of ‘Wrecking Ball.’ Can we all stop pretending she isn’t a human being now?”

Too many of us think celebrities “deserve” all the backlash they receive, that “it’s part of their job.” We forget that they are fragile human beings, not unbreakable demi-gods. The sad thing is that if we were on the receiving end of such harsh comments, we would be quick to object, rightly labeling it as cruel.

As with gossip in “everyday life”: celebrity gossip is destructive to the party being gossiped about (celebrity), as well as the party doing the gossip (us). Celebrity gossip is not a victimless crime; it is destructive to our soul.

Christian author Elizabeth George presented a great biblical defense against gossip in her book A Woman’s High Calling.

According to George, the word “slanderer” is used many times in the New Testament. Its original Greek translation, diabolos, means malicious gossip, “slanderer,” “false accuser”–bringing charges against another, usually with hostile intent.

Titus 2:3 and 1 Timothy 3:11 call us Christians to be “not slanderers,” not “scandal mongers,” “not given to intrigue,” “avoiding scandal,” “not given to slandering,” “who will not talk scandal,” “saying no evil of others.” Can we honestly exclude our judgmental comments about Miley or any other celebrity from these categories?

George narrows down the causes of gossip to the following:

1. Evil Heart (Luke 6:45)

2. Hatred (Psalm 109:3)

3. Foolishness (Proverbs 10:18)

4. Idleness (1 Timothy 5:13)

Are any of these heart conditions driving my temptation to participate in celebrity gossip?

George sums it up like this:

Gossip harms us. When you and I gossip, we incur a huge loss. What kind of loss? We suffer the loss of character, respect, and dignity, not to mention the loss of spiritual growth and usefulness. As an old proverb says, 'Let not your tongue cut your throat.’

As Miley’s VMA incident fades from the media spotlight, no doubt, the media is cooking up another celebrity mishap to blow out of proportion this week. How will we react?

I’ll leave you to reflect on one of my all-time favorite verses: Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.