A Lengthy Feminist Treatise on Miley Cyrus's VMA Performance and Its Societal Impact
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A Lengthy Feminist Treatise on Miley Cyrus's VMA Performance and Its Societal Impact

By Courtney Enlow | Celebrities Are Better than You | August 26, 2013 | Comments ()



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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Homestar

    This response is so good for two reasons. The first, Miley Cyrus CAN do whatever she wants: She's a grown woman who no doubt will be seriously embarrassed 10 years from now when she looks back on this ridiculous behavior, if she ever becomes that self-aware. But, Cartman says it perfectly: "I don't go to school and I kill people, whatever!" Miley is acting out in a similarly clueless way. She has no idea what she's actually putting out there, she just wants attention. But again, she has every right to do so.

    The second is the forum for her misbehavior. In South Park it was trashy television, and here it's MTV. It's not just the trashy behavior, it's how the audience eats it up and contributes to it. She wouldn't be able to be so ridiculous without the audience gasping at it.

    But I do agree with the commentors talking about the appropriation of hip hop culture and the objectification of black women. It's disgusting and someone needs to tell this girl to stop that shit.

  • Some Guy

    If grinding in a bikini, excessively sticking ones tongue out, using a foam finger provocatively and dancing with giant stuffed bears and a guy in a Beetlejuice costume are what constitutes appropriating a segment of black culture nowadays, I feel that somehow I missed a big shift in certain aspects of black culture and am now undeniably old and forever out of the loop.

  • wsapnin

    a) it was sad to see that she thinks she is relevant. did you see the reaction of the other artists? bored. 2) can she just please keep her tongue in her mouth? that's all I really ask.

  • Jo 'Mama' Besser

    Or at least brush it.

  • wesbryant

    At least now Amanda Bynes has someone who she can say thank god I'm not her!

  • Relevant: Miley Cyrus twerks on famous paintings. http://imgur.com/gallery/BFDsd

  • ScrimmySCrim

    Nomi Malone would like her dance routines back.

  • I think y'all managed to put more thought into this than anyone involved in the actual performance did and that doesn't really make anyone look good.

  • pumpkin

    Honestly, the biggest problem I had with her performance was that it was poorly done.

    Miley can't (really) sing, can't dance, and isn't sexy. Everything about her screams "trying wayyyy too hard and not doing a very good job of it."

    She's kind of goofy.

  • Walt Jr

    I just wanna say that I miss the days of metal and music television. "Bang your head!" That is all.

  • Just watched Miley's performance on You Tube. My 13 year old daughter's only comment was "What happened to her? She was never good, but now she looks like an idiot. This is horrible" See? Not all teens are buying what pop music is shoveling.

    Speaking of, those songs sucked. That is the first time I heard "Blurred Lines". My opinion is it's an awful song whether he is singing about date rape or drunk driving or impressionist art. I look forward to never listening to it again.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Hey, it just so happens that Miley released the cover of her new album yesterday. You guys don't think this is all related somehow do you? Like maybe she just wanted attention so to sell her product? And that she would have dressed up in furs from head to toe like an Eskimo if she thought it would get her some attention?

  • Some Guy

    Well, that would certainly give the Anti-Inuit-Appropriation-Association something to do. They haven't had anything to protest since the Great-Igloo-Explosion back in the 80s, when everyone in middle america HAD to live in an igloo for a period in their 20s after college. The only thing they've had to complain about these last twenty years are those atrocious but comfy Uggs.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    Oh great. Now I'm going to get all mad thinking about autumn and the return of Uggs season.

  • Sars

    Miley Cyrus is not a feminist issue.
    Miley Cyrus is a "what the fuck is going on with the state of music, that some chipmunk, half talented, inbred, flat assed, chlld, is more famous than radio-head" issue.
    Seriously, that performance was horrendous not because she was half naked- Brit Brit did it better- but because she is a horrible performer and a horrible singer and has no poise or dignity.
    how can you use your sexuality, if you have none.

  • chanohack

    WHY is the size of her ass even mentioned in this discussion?

  • Kim Voeks

    The fact that she has no ass is relevant in one respect -if you've seen actual twerking,(Youtube it.) it involves making a bubble butt bounce in a sexually provocative way. If you have no ass, it's just wiggling your back. The analogy would be an eight year old shaking her ta ta's. Nothing there. No point.

  • blaize

    I agree, her body type shouldn't even be a factor. Sexuality isn't limited to curvy women (although I do think we look best with curves). There's so much more to sexiness than boob and butt. But overall, I don't really find Miley sexy.

  • Some Guy

    That's because she hasn't even finished going through puberty yet.

  • ,


    "Dancing" idiot with no curves. Yeah, that's what I think of when I think of "sexy."

  • VohaulsRevenge

    "This routine be technically sound, but where be the soul?"

  • lilianna28

    It was a hot. fricking. mess. of a performance. No self awareness, no editing. She took off that stupid looking teddy bear outfit with GLEE like "oh yea, it's gonna get crazy up in HERE! and she didn't realize we were all kind of shaking our heads already at that point. Right out of the gate with the tongue and the strangeness it was tasteless to ten.

    The racism angle- I'll let smarter, more aware people than me address that one. I'm now mom of three with no idea what the hell any race of kids are doing "these days" and I'm literally too unaware of it to be able to tell she was being anything other than really, awkwardly bad.

  • Captain D

    Wait, there was a teddy bear outfit involved? The performance obviously should have gone in this direction:

  • katy

    Same here. Twerking and Ratchet (which I still think is a really strange word to use in describing what it refers to, not that I've ever encountered someone like this myself) are completely new words to me today. This is one of the few times where I'm thankful to have aged into the ignorant phase of life.

  • $27019454

    I had to google/Youtube "Twerking." I literally watched a Youtube video of How To Twerk.

  • Yossarian

    When you gyrate provocatively on MTV in flesh colored underthings people are going to talk and make gifs and make jokes and foretell the collapse of western civilization, etc. Some people will have interesting and thoughtful things to say but most of them have nothing of value to contribute and are just seeking a hit of residual attention from the thing everyone is gawking at. Most people are dumb and/or uninteresting.

    The performance was a mess, right? And there is no hint of self-awareness or message in it. We can ascribe some meaning after the fact or defend the performances from overzealous body- and sexuality- shaming criticism but I really don't think there was anything substantive intended by it beyond vacuous attention seeking and gleeful celebration of catchy earworm music popularity.

    It's odd that so much of the criticism gets heaped on Miley when it has to be assumed that producers, choreographers, managers, the network, and Mr. Thicke had collectively more control over the performance than the former child star. Sure she's culpable but she's also clearly a victim of a culture & industry that equates success with the ability to temporarily seize as much of the public's attention as possible (a metric by which this performance was a fantastic success)

  • opiejuankenopie

    You really think Robin Thicke has more pull than Miley Cyrus? She's got Disney money, he's got Growing Pains allowance.

  • RilesSD


  • BWeaves

    Anyone can act like a slut. It takes talent to act like a lady.

  • blaize

    The whole virgin/whore dichotomy and 'acting like a lady' bull is really just for misogynistic prudes who have regressive conservative hang-ups about sex.

  • BWeaves

    Anyone can act like an asshole. It takes talent to act like a gentleman.

  • chanohack

    Fuck acting like a lady. Fuck "acting" like anything.

  • BWeaves

    OK then, It takes talent to BE a lady.

  • Slash

    What, do all you women not feel empowered? I know I sure do every time I see someone shaking her money maker on stage for money and/or attention.
    Empowered. So empowered.

    And if you feel differently, you are a SLUT SHAMER.

  • blaize

    Feeling that it's not empowering doesn't automatically make you a slut shamer. It's only if you engage in slut-shaming, and nothing that you said was slut-shaming at all.
    As women and as feminists, I think we all need to be respectful of one another's non-bigoted feelings. Which means that if one woman feels empowered and liberated by something, we don't try to quickly make her feelings about that thing illegitimate, even if we disagree. And if another woman feels that something is not empowering or liberating, we also don't try to force our feelings on her or attack her.

  • bdog

    It's her party, she can do what she wants.

  • Jezzer

    Gee, I can't wait to see how the people in the Pajiba comments go absolutely bonkers shitting all over this in their never-ending, high stakes game of More Liberal Than Thou.

  • Deidra

    Which is no less exciting that your perpetual prop bet of Who Can Be The Most Obvious Troll.

  • John G.

    We have to have one token troll guy. Jezzer's not the best, but not the worst.

  • ,

    Don't be fooled by cheap imitations.

    Pookie was the best. Nobody trolled better. No. Body.

  • Jezzer

    Pookie probably got washed off the internet by the waves of self-righteousness coming from the comment section.

  • $27019454

    Also, he was fucking stupid.

  • Jezzer

    "I'd put my dick in that broad."


  • John G.

    Pour one out for Pookie

  • ExUSA

    I'm all for glib responses, but her performance bummed me out, a *lot*.

    I think the best way to explain it is this-- I could paint a "Jackson Pollack" you could paint a "Pollack" a 2 year old could paint one. The reason why a Pollack is so damn expensive and important is that he knew the rules of art, and subverted them. He exploited them to his own vision, and that's why he's a considered a genius in the art world and you're not.

    Miley Cyrus did not knowingly exploit gender rules/mores/whatever in her performance. She played right into some *ucked up gender norms where it's ok to grind up on a married man at least 10 years older than you, and put yourself on display in a way where you're the passive object of the gaze. Rather than subverting, she pretty much played into the disparity, and the sad thing is, she and some other people on the internet can't differentiate the two. It was very sad to watch, and the worst part is-- she clearly doesn't know better. That's why this is different. It's not an indictment of her, it's just a sad statement of where we are in America today in terms of gender equality.

    Also- the racial aspect of the performance was really gross.

    In short, Miley Cyrus REALLY bummed me out last night.

  • Andrew

    I can't stand Jackson Pollock. I don't consider it actual art (my definition of art being creating something that no other person could make; anyone can drip paint on a canvas).

    But, other than your initial point being wrong, I completely agree with you.

  • Some Guy

    Sorry, your argument on what constitutes are is seriously lacking in solid parameters.

    There are people out there who can recreate master paintings. You can find the right spot in Yosemite and take a picture exactly like Ansel Adams. Is a handmade copy of a famous painting art? Or by its mere existence does it render the original not-art simply because someone else has the skills to make it?

    One only needs the appropriate level of skill and talent, and really anything can be recreated.

    However, I'm more inclined to watch you try to recreate one of Pollack's paintings yourself, drip for drip, and then get back to me about that whole "not art" thing.

  • Some Guy

    Hell, if anything you'd have a harder time recreating a Pollack painting, dot for dot, splatter for splatter, than you would recreating something by the majority of the 20th century masters. Picasso? Your average painter could forge many of Picasso's paintings far easier than they could ever hope to forge something by Pollack.

    In that regards, by your own standards Pollack is more of an artist than everyone else it seems. While his theory and technique are both sound and prevalent in his style, like other notable famous artists, his use of controlled drips and splatters means that there will always be a chaotic, random factor to each painting that assures that each one is truly unique and impossible to recreate.

  • Andrew

    Recreations aren't art because they are RE-creations. Only the original artist could make that first piece. Someone coming along later and making something similar or identical doesn't diminish the significance of the original.

    I suppose if someone made a masterwork painting and then someone else came along and with no knowledge of the original made an identical painting, then the first would no longer be art. But I'm not aware of any such thing happening.

    The same goes for Adams. You could go to the same place and take the same picture, but again, your intentionally copying Adams, which again, takes nothing away from the "art-ness" of the original.

    In art class we were always shown laminated posters of famous art to talk about. Were those posters themselves art? I would say no. Do demonstrate this, imagine a poster of a famous piece next to the original. Which of the two would you assign more value?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    If she is actively sticking her crotch out and grinding on people, is she really a passive object?

    And him being married doesn't play into his onstage persona.

  • ExUSA

    Robin Thicke being married is how he justified the horrible misogyny in the video and the song. It's absolutely part of his onstage persona.

    As far as being passive, I would relate back to my Pollack analogy. You can't play the game unless you know the rules/implications, and Cyrus clearly doesn't know the rules.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Let's not act as if singers stop singing about picking women up or abandon playa images when they get married. I know he's been married since he hit the scene, but am I wrong in thinking his onstage presence has pretty much been ladykiller, not "I'm a taken man"?

  • ExUSA

    My point is, Thicke's argument of "I'm married, I can't be sexist, it's all subversion" is akin to "I can't be racist... I have a black friend!"

    He tries to have it both ways, he's the (dorky) sex god in his videos, then tries to justify it by telling the public he's been married to his Jr Highschool Sweetheart, and then treats a 20 year old like she's merely an object. There is CLEARLY a disconnect

    For example-- On his (horribly misogynistic video)
    “We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, ‘We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.’” Robin Thicke (http://www.salon.com/2013/07/2...

    He can't have his cake and eat it too.

    I don't understand why you're apologizing on his behalf? I'm nearly 29, I know when a young, dumb 20-something is acting a fool. He's older than me. He in theory knows better.

    At the end of the day, I think we need to expect MORE from our pop culture icons. On a personal note, as someone who grew up with riot grrls Sassy magazine, and "Girl Power" it REALLY bums me out THIS is the best we can do pop culture wise for teenage girls.

  • blaize

    I've always disagreed with the idea that one's nudity or wearing of a revealing outfit automatically puts them in a passive role, or 'the passive role of the gaze," because for me, both being naked/half-naked and seeing others naked/half-naked (regardless of gender) is a turn-on. Plus, nothing seemed passive about her crazy performance last night.

  • Meh

    This article , at least for me, is mostly obscured by a large pop up that says "BLEACH IT AWAY". I couldn't agree more.

  • specialj67

    My favorite South Park thing ever! I only reference that scene, like, 5 times a day, whatever...

  • Berry

    My brother in law and I sometimes quote it in sync: first one says "whatever" and then the other follows with "I can do what I want." Fun for the whole family!

  • Al Borland's Beard

    I didn't see the performance and probably won't. I do have one question, though. Were there any shots of Billy Ray on the side of the stage tapping his foot while counting a stack of money?

  • Lucy

    I have no problem with female singers barely wearing anything and being overtly sexual...

    But, Miley.... She just seems like someone who's desperate to prove she's comfortable with her body and with sex. The pervy tongue moves, the teddy bears, the foam finger... it's like her concept of sex and shocking is diverted by a 15-year-old boy. It reminds me a lot of women I know who had controlling and/or religious fathers then they get their twenties and it's uncomfortable for everyone.
    By not watching the video you're missing the truly awkward dancing she does everyone time she's not immediately next to someone. Ashley Simpson's jig from SNL is a masterpiece in comparison.

  • blaize

    I sort of agree with your assessment of Miley. I think the girl has always had a natural wild/rebellious streak, but she was a teen Disney starlet. So not only did she have her more conservative/religious dad (I don't mean that as an insult at all to religious people), but with the company that she worked for, she was under extra pressure to be pure/squeaky-clean, and whenever she wore or did something remotely sexually 'impure' in her early teens, there were many people slut-shaming her for it, saying violent things about her, and even using the 'asking for it' card. So I think a lot of her antics from the time she was 17 up until now have been her way of rebelling against all of that, making sure that EVERYBODY KNOWS that she'll do whatever she wants with her physical appearance, she'll dance however she wants, etc. If only she understood that a lot of us already get her point, and that she doesn't have to keep trying so hard.

  • PDamian

    I thought the New York Times put it best:

    "... this was a banner year for clumsy white appropriation of black culture – the shambolic, trickster-esque performance by Ms. Cyrus, to whom no one has apparently said “no” for the last six months or so, which included plenty of lewdness and a molestation of Robin Thicke."

    "Clumsy white appropriation of black culture." Indeed, with emphasis on the "clumsy." What I find most horrifying is not only that Ms Cyrus seems to think that awkwardly jiggling her nonexistent butt cheeks, sticking her tongue out at everything and everyone, and calling her new album "Ballerz" (note the "z") is both characteristic of and attractive about African-American culture, but that her white fans are likely to agree with her assessment.

  • NateMan

    " ...molestation of Robin Thicke."

    Right. Because there's no way the married father knew that some chick was going to grind on him. There's no way that was rehearsed to the very last second. There's no way he could have said "No, this is inappropriate."

    Sorry. That whole thing reads more like an old person's chin-wag about the state of America's youth (and young women in particular) than it does the actual performance.

  • bonnie

    Exactly. I have major issues with the "molestation" of Robin Thicke, particularly because he sang about pseudo-or-actual date rape in "Blurred Lines." He knows what he's doing. He should know better.

  • Jezzer

    Blurred Lines: not about date rape, pseudo or actual.

  • bonnie

    Maybe not about *literal* date rape, but saying over and over again, "I know you want it" is just a little too creepy for my taste. And it certainly doesn't warrant "Robin Thicke got molested" complaints against Miley Cyrus.

  • Jezzer

    "Creepy," yes. It's creepy, gross, arrogant "Alpha male" bullshit. She might indeed "want it," Robin, but not necessarily from you, so throttle back on the ol' self-image just a tad and lighten up on the hair products.

    The problem is that one lyric is being taken out of context. The song is about society's madonna/whore complex, not about how Robin Thicke is going to have sex with some woman, whether she likes it or not. "I know you want it" is poorly worded and undeniably gross, but the sentiment of the song is that society only allows women to be "good girls" or sluts, and he's telling her to do what she wants, not what's expected of her. It's gross because he's assuming what she wants instead of asking what she wants, but I don't think it crosses the line to "SO IMA GIVE IT TO YOU AGAINST YOUR WILL."

  • Gauephat

    I think it's much simpler than that: a guy's in a club, dancing with a girl. She looks innocent but is acting very sexual. He gets a confused boner. The end.

  • John G.

    It is about rape. Just read the lyrics. Also, we don't need to qualify rape as "date rape". It's rape. There aren't good rapes and bad rapes.

  • Natalie Loren

    Hi. *raises hand*

    Multiple rape victim here, I don't believe it is about rape. But feel free, as a man, (assuming you are a man, John) to make broad assumptions about the topic.

    Carry on.

  • John G.

    The people who tell me it is about rape are also rape victims. I guess being a rape victim doesn't give you the authority to define what is or is not about rape.

    Carry on.

  • Natalie Loren

    No, John, NOT being a rape victim means you have NO authority on the matter. I could tell you how good a T-bone steak is, but unless you try it yourself you won't know.
    So sit down.

  • John G.

    That is absurd. If I've never had a steak, then I would be out of place describing what a steak tastes like, but If I had seen tons of pictures of steaks, and I had read many articles that were describing a specific steak as a steak, many of them written by people who had tasted steak, and then I didn't describe the experience of eating the steak, but only pointed to the steak and said "that's a steak", that is totally acceptable.

    I'm sorry if you were raped, but unfortunately that doesn't give anyone the authority to declare anything about other people's rape or what is rape. But this goes even beyond that, because the people who brought this issue to my attention in the first place are also rape survivors, because rape is depressingly common. You can't say one persons rape gives them authority to identify what is or is not rape, and another person's rape does not. First, because being a survivor doesn't give you that authority in the first place, and secondly, because other people in exactly your situation disagree with you.

  • Jezzer

    "My rape victims totally trump your rape card, so sit your ass down."

    Guess you showed her, John.

  • John G.

    Actually what I showed was that being raped doesn't mean you then get to determine which things are or aren't about rape in popular culture just based on that. Meaning, you have to make arguments beyond just saying "I was raped, therefore.."

    Rape is incredibly pervasive in our culture, like racism, and people understand that the word itself, like racism, is bad, so they don't want it used whenever they can, especially if it moves too closely to something they like or something they themselves do. But if you want to combat rape culture, you can't just quibble over the specific examples of which things get the label. You have to look at all the things that may be rape culture examples, explore them, and if they fit in even the slightest ways, you don't fight to get the label removed, you fight to change the behavior. The only reason not to do that is if the behavior is something you don't want to give up.

    For example, taking advantage of people when they're drunk is often not defined as rape by the people who like to take advantage of people when they're drunk. Also, pop songs are challenged as "rape-y" and people need to show that they're not about rape, not because they're not about rape, but because someone likes the song. They don't want to get branded with guilt by association. But, like racism, it's not the argument over the word that's important, but the actual content being described by the word we're exploring.

    If you read the lyrics to "blurred lines" it is about making so called "good girls" (a ridiculous fiction) who are "asking for it" (rape-y) turned into "bad girls" ( a ridiculous fiction). There are no "good girls" and "bad girls". Sex is not a sin that "good girls" don't participate in. There is only consent and rape. It doesn't matter if he actually, as Jezzer says, "crosses the line" in the song. The song is about rape and rape culture either way. It's not just my opinion. Much has been written about this song all across the internet. I didn't try and make the song about rape for some personal benefit to me, other than recognizing rape culture wherever it occurs. I personally don't give a shit about this song. It's just a single example in a long line of rape culture examples that occur in pop culture.

    What intrigues me is the motivation to prove to everyone that everyone else is wrong, and that it definitely isn't anything to do with rape. I find it curious when people get that interested and the boundaries of what is or is not rape on something that seemingly doesn't directly affect them (ie you didn't write the song). I understand when the guy who wrote the song defends it as not what it is, and he may or may not be genuinely unsure. Rape culture, like white male privilege, is difficult to see when it doesn't ever affect you. That's what makes it so important for people who aren't directly affected by it, but might be unconsciously participating in it, to tease it out and look it over, even if it makes us uncomfortable.

  • Jezzer

    You're still reaching.

  • Gauephat

    If you read one line of the lyrics and ignore the context and the rest of the song, I guess it's about rape. But you could do that for tons of songs, just most of the time people aren't silly about it.

  • Jezzer

    Nope. Not about rape.

  • ExUSA

    Well to be fair, he knew "she want it"

  • Robot Devi

    I have to say though, I'm glad that at least some news outlets are aware of the racial implications of Miley Cyrus' behavior, but I do wish that they would make the distinction between "black" culture and hip-hop culture. Black communities are as diverse as white communities, which neither they nor Miley seem to understand.

  • PDamian

    I was editing while you were posting. Oops. But I agree with you.

  • Jiffylush

    Thank you so much, my question is why isn't anyone complaining that her glove/hand/finger is on the wrong hand!

  • Mrs. Julien

    I brought up that very thing on the Pajiba Love post.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    I think Willow Smith's face during her performance was all we needed to know about how teenaged girls perceive her.

  • Deidra

    Except that was Willow Smith reacting to Lady Gaga, not to Miley Cyrus.

  • $27019454

    Evertyhing about the Smith Family is rehearsed. I bet they practiced this reaction shot in the mirror before taking off for the show.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    NO, DAMMIT. It was too perfect to be true.

  • birdgal

    Let's hope so anyway!

  • Robot Devi

    I can't help but feel that this post should end up in a #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen tweet.

  • Artemis

    Yuuuup. On the showing skin/thrusting pelvis scale, this was nothing unusual for the VMAs. On the racism, this was a particularly noteworthy spectacle.

    Yet all the commentary today is "Miley: was the nearly-naked ass shaking empowering or gross or just badly executed?" instead of "uhh, did you see how Miley took her long-running appropriation of a particular segment of black culture and dialed it up to fucking 11 and also smacked the ass of a black back-up dancer and, oh yeah, LITERALLY dressed up a bunch of black women as her toys?"

  • RigbyReardon

    Totes. The conversation about her clumsy entree into adult sexuality is exactly the same one as people had when Christina Aguilera did it with Dirrrty, as when Britney did it with I'm a Slave 4 U, as when Selena Gomez wore a bra on stage etc., etc. Do what you want girl, we get it, you're not a kid anymore blah blah blah.

    The difference with this performance is a) how fucking deeply embarrassing and awkward it was to watch (say what you will about Christina and Britney and Madonna, one gets the feeling that they were at least a little bit into actual sex- the sexual idea Miley's aping here is of someone who, like, has never had sex. It was just an attention grab; nothing was sexy about it.) and b) Holy Cultural Appropriation Batman! She's taking an aspect of black culture and using it to show that she's edgy/wild/sexxxxy now, and it's weird and offensive and makes me feel...cruddy. I was shocked by how fucking blatant it all was. Womp womp.

  • lilianna28

    This: the sexual idea Miley's aping here is of someone who, like, has never had sex

    Like her entire knowledge base for sex is some porn she watched at 3am

  • RilesSD

    Having black backup dancers is racist? Would it not be more racist if she had only white backup dancers? Are white people not allowed to "twerk"? Is twerking as powerful as the n-word now?

  • Sami

    Of course white people can twerk. But did you not see the way she differentiated herself from her backup dancers? Super thin white girl dancing along side black women with lots of ass and belly on display. Now there's nothing wrong with having dancers of all sizes. But these dancers weren't of all sizes. They were one size: larger than her. Belly out, ass out, like the exhibits in human zoos during the early 1900's.

    Not to mention, I've never met a black person who takes issue with white folks being into their art. But there is a difference between fetishizing one aspect of the culture, and then actually appreciating the art form in it's entirety. I love hip hop, and my neighbourhood is almost 90% black. But I can dance my face off to rap/hip hop/dancehall without actually pretending I can rap (I cannot) or that I have the same style and upbringing as my friends (I don't).

    Let's take it to another culture (mine, which is Arab). There's a bunch of girls that are into Middle Eastern 'belly dancing' and claim they love "Arab culture". Yet they don't know who Fairuz is, they don't know that belly dancing was a Western invention, because they don't care. They just want to look like some exotic Orientalist sex doll. There are white girls that go to Egypt, learn Arabic, study Middle Eastern culture and can dance with their hips. I have met these girls and have zero issues with them. These people are not appropriating. They are living it. That's the difference.

    Miley may genuinely love hip hop. But she's exploiting the art form poorly for her own fiscal gain. You can't defend that sort of shit.

  • RilesSD

    Thanks Sami. This leads me to a question that I should have asked previously. Is the real issue not that Miley is exploiting/appropriating the art form, but that she's doing it poorly? Or that she's too rich to do it? Because there are arguments to be made for many artists that are doing the same thing, but in better taste. See Eric Clapton/Stevie Ray Vaughan (the Blues), Eminem (hip-hop/Detroit-centric hip-hop), Living Colour (Rock -- although yes, I know, rock & roll was appropriated too, but not hard rock/heavy metal), Taylor Swift (country), etc etc.

  • Artemis

    No, having black backup dancers is not in and of itself necessarily racist. Thanks for willfully missing the point, though.

    If you are actually interested in this subject and not just being purposefully obtuse, I'd suggest reading Dodai's excellent article about this at Jezebel: http://jezebel.com/on-miley-cy.... She explains it much better than I could.

  • Jezzer

    There was an excellent article on Jezebel? How did that happen? Did they finally get rid of Tracie Egan Morrissey?

  • Artemis

    I agree with your general skepticism, but pretty much everything Dodai writes is great.

  • RilesSD

    I didn't willfully miss the point, I responded directly to what Artemis posted. I went and read the Jezebel piece you suggested and do agree with some points.

    However, I think some points weren't fully followed to their conclusion.

    I tend to agree with one of the commenters, Specular, left there: "I like you, Dodai Stewart, but I can't support you this time. You can't have this one both ways: either pop music created by non-dominant cultures is open to enjoyment and emulation by people outside that culture, or it is off limits to anyone not from that background and we therefor can't complain about limited sales and/or industry recognition."

    I'll leave it at that. After all, this was just another MTV performance in a long line of performances put together to attract attention. Which it sure fucking did.

  • Artemis

    Whereas I find Specular's comment pretty silly. No one is arguing that white people can't enjoy hip hop (much like no one is upset that the genre has limited sales, because that's just objectively not the case). But there's a BIG GIANT DIFFERENCE between that and, as Dodai puts it, a white girl who decides to "play dress up and adorn herself with the trappings of an oppressed/minority culture." Miley isn't "emulating" hip hop culture -- she's dressing up in it like a black face routine, and using black women as props in that show. It's gross.

  • RilesSD

    Who's to say she's basing her image off of an oppressed/minority culture? We're talking about a 20 year old girl. She's most likely basing it off of 3-6 Mafia, 2Pac, Paul Wall, and other famous rappers, all of whom have generated plenty of income.

    Also, these:

    "World stunned by girl in underwear at MTV Video Music Awards " : http://www.avclub.com/articles...

    "Give Miley Cyrus A Break, She’s Just A Modern Era Flapper" : http://thedailybanter.com/2013...

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