There is, of course, good and uplifting work being done in popular culture. And as consumers of -- or simply concerned citizens involuntarily co-existing with -- these products, we should encourage the good. Listening to, and watching, Miss Hough's "Is That So Wrong?," it's hard for a country-music fan not to think of myriad other songs that reach for a firm foundation, a moral core, an ideal. This year also brought us songs like Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me." She sings of feelings, too, and a little bit of the same journey Hough seems to sing of. Going back to the home she was raised in, as the title implies, Lambert sings: "I thought if I could touch this place or feel it, this brokenness inside me might start healing. Out here it's like I'm someone else. I thought that maybe I could find myself. If I could just come in I swear I'll leave. Won't take nothing but a memory. From the house that built me."
When you're on the verge of forgetting why you're here, on the verge of or in the wake of a bad choice, it's not a bad message to hear. Julianne Hough is perfectly free, of course, to sing songs and make videos like she has. But we don't have to applaud it. We can ask for more of our entertainment and entertainers.
It's like a broken record: Good girls in pop culture tend to go wild. It's considered a commercial matter of broadening any given young woman's commercial appeal, as an act of supposed independence and maturity. Real independence and maturity is countering that perverse message. Actual independence and maturity is having the good sense to embrace time-tested virtues. There's wisdom in looking for healing, as Lambert sings -- for true fulfillment -- not a stopgap rush.
A song about a girl who knows she doesn't have to settle is the tune I want young men and women and children to hear. They can have more than, perhaps, they've seen modeled around them in their own lives. They can build their own houses. And they can be made of the strong stuff of true commitment and love.
It's not about Left or Right or religious or secular. It's about wanting better, always, for ourselves, for those we love. Have it out with any cultural influence that doesn't inspire. Who has time for anything else? Why would we make time for that? Why would won't we do everything in our power to make sure girls and boys know they don't deserve anything less? Is that so wrong?