Intimacy is a hard thing to achieve, especially for anyone raised in a home wracked by abuse, drug addiction or alcoholism. I grew up in an alcoholic household and I, like anyone who’s ever wanted to connect with other people, have a hard time connecting in any meaningful way.
Countless love songs and romantic movies show that love and intimacy come easily. Any time love or intimacy proves to be difficult, the public gets songs like “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus.
It’s been five months since it came out, but the message is as pervasive as ever. With the release of Spike Jonze’s film “Her,” the subject of intimacy, love and relationships in a technologically advancing world has again been raised. The main point of a song is generally found in the chorus and “Wrecking Ball” is no exception — specifically the line, “All I wanted was to break your walls.”
To break someone’s walls is to breach his or her defenses and discover the person’s innermost thoughts, desires, feelings and pain.
If you’re having a hard time ordering a Whopper at Burger King, you say, “All I wanted was a Whopper.” You don’t say, “All I wanted was to break your walls.”
The pop songstress follows this up with, “All you ever did was break me … You wreck me.” This is a universal sentiment. Innumerable people have felt the intangible pain of heartbreak at some point and empathy is impossible in the infant stages of separation, but that doesn’t change the facts.
On the other end of those “walls” is a damaged soul. Coming in like a “wrecking ball” won’t mend any deep-seated trauma. Lots of people have that deep-seated trauma and breaking them down does nothing to help it.
It’s fine to express these thoughts in art, but the message it sends is clear and dangerous: “Intimacy is easy, and anyone who can’t achieve it is a lost cause.” Planting expectations like this in listeners is damaging. Romantic relationships are roller coaster rides at first, and the real, selfless love comes after the infatuation. It takes work, patience and understanding, not 2,000 pounds of force.
In an increasingly disconnected world, genuine connection outside of a computer, phone or TV screen gets harder every day. Songs like “Wrecking Ball” may not exacerbate the problem immediately, but the seeds have been planted and will take root in the minds of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people around the world.
Intimacy doesn’t start with anger. While that may be apart of it, it starts with a willingness to understand and be patient. This principle is a two-way street. When you hear something like “Wrecking Ball,” know that, just like your own life, it’s only one side of a far more complex story.