Miley and why She Can’t Stop

rs_560x415-130830150852-1024..miley-cyrus-twerk-vma.ls.83013By: Grainne Rhuad

There‘s a lot I don’t like about Miley Cyrus.  Mainly her music, her terrible- bad-no-good-awful acting, her show-parents, her stupid granny panties.

However, unlike all the shocked, moms, (pretend) shocked news reporting and Will Smith’s family; I found myself respecting her for her Video Music Awards performance.

To reiterate, the music was shite.  But the way in which Miley subverted the VMA’s was delicious.

First off let’s talk Teddy Bears.

The furry love was front and center and beyond making a statement about current trends and what’s hip, the inclusion of these well loved childhood cuddle dolls shouted, I don’t need toys to play with anymore.  Or rather, I need toys to play with but like everyone else my age, I need to hump them.  Humping my teddy bear is fun and exciting and nasty.  It shocks you right?  Good.  Because my teddy bear does not give one shit how you feel.  He/she digs the shit out of me rubbing myself against it. So do I.

Whether you want to talk about it or not if you are a female (and I imagine for a good deal of males too) you have made out with your stuffed animal, you have used it as a surrogate in yourself discovery.  You don’t have to admit it to me, but know that this thing you are getting all gleebed out over is your own projection of unresolved issues.

Speaking of Tongues.

Miley made excellent use of her tongue posing.  And by excellent I mean ridiculous.  She very obviously used her tongue as a caricature of sexuality.  Nobody in real life flashes their tongues like that.

Except this guy:

gene simmons tongue

And it made him infamous.  He has that tongue insured, it’s putting his kids through college and paying for all the dumb business ideas he has.

But why is it Gene Simmons- Knights In Satan’s Service can flash his supercilious tongue and get nothing but swooning female groupies but Miley Cyrus somehow has to apologies?  It wasn’t a disgusting tongue; it was for all intents and purposes a fairly a-okay tongue.  So why does a man get a pass on suggestive tongue wagging and a young woman not?

I think this has everything to do with homophobia.  People are left uncomfortable and slightly turned on by young Miley and wondering what her tongue purpose is.  Do men need women to be that versatile with tongue? (A: yes, it helps) or is she getting her tongue fit for the ladies?

49157-george-takei-oh-my-gif-e64l

Every time we take a step forward in the human sexuality front, whether that’s the woman’s right to be sexy or GLBT issues, we are met with resistance.  People find a subconscious reason to be upset.  Plus, you know, Disney princesses aren’t supposed to behave that way…right?

Which brings us to Disney.

Miley Cyrus like so many young pop stars owes a lot of her recognition and exposure to Disney.  So many parents and people in general see Disney as a wholesome place. They produce movies and television that parents feel okay to plant their kids in front of without supervision because, you know, it’s Disney!

The truth is Disney is more interested in making money than making family friendly programming.  Their programming on their channels hasn’t been clean and pure for a long time, if it ever was.

But that isn’t all. Disney almost always chooses to animate stories that are grossly sexualized, masochistic and all around bad for girls and the boys who will grow up to love them.  Snow White was all about killing your rival in order to be the prettiest. Cinderella taught us that you could live happily ever after if only you defy your parents, steal some sweet duds and lie about who you are. Even the animal stories are sexualized. How many animals were distracted from their mission by some fancy tail?

“It’s a Black Thing, You wouldn’t understand”

People of colour.  It’s a hard thing to address, but everyone wants more equality as long as the equality is slanted in their favor.  Spike Lee is famous for this.  He wants his films to be revered but God help anyone white who makes a film about black people because there just isn’t room for that in Spike Lee’s world.  Even though he grossly misrepresents Italians in one of his most watchable movies ‘Do The Right Thing.’

Miley automatically was compared to Rhianna and a slew of other Black musicians. But this is unfair.  It’s doesn’t seem to be her purpose.  Sure, she said some stuff about wanting a “black sound.”  But what musician hasn’t?  Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Justin Timberlake…we could go on and on.  Are you seeing that they are all men?  Let me throw someone else in there then, Joss Stone who belted out excellent blues, completely white the whole time and got nothing but kudos.  Let’s remember, she’s not the one calling herself a “white Rhianna”

Here’s some silly statements I came across while thinking about this Black thing:

“The whole thing feels like a blatant example of gross cultural appropriation, akin to the Pat Boones and Elvis’ of yesteryear.” (Source: vice)

“Given her statements about wanting to achieve a “black sound” during the production of the record—and considering the drug-referencing, butt-bouncing, gold-teeth-laden final project—it’s hard not to come to the conclusion that Miley has a problematic view of what “black” is. Although whites appropriating parts of blackness to create something that borders on mockery is nothing new in American pop culture, Miley’s situation seems to be a bit different.”- Wilbert L. Cooper (source: vice)

“Professor Akil Houston: It doesn’t appear to be either. It continues a long tradition of what bell hooks might refer to as “eating the other.” Hooks noted that within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes like spice seasoning. It is used to liven up the dull dish that is mainstream/white culture. The distinction is important, as I think authentic images and references affirm, acknowledge, and embrace a particular culture. For example, consider the Beastie Boys and hip-hop. They were a lot more authentic and representative of true hip-hop culture than what passes for it these days”

The good professor goes on to compare Miley’s act to Amos and Andy, for real.  Somehow Miley Cyrus has achieved in this “Hip-Hop scholar’s mind the level of buffoonery of Amos and Andy: Steppin’ and Fetchin’ her way through her musical performance. But strangely enough she doesn’t seem to be making fun.  Nor is she denigrating Black people, just herself. His statement to Wilbert L.Cooper that “. It says something about a society that cannot face the real thing but enjoys the pleasure of spectacle involved in mockery, even if it’s assumed to be in jest.” This just doesn’t fit in this instance.  The intention to “mock” anyone other than herself and her generation just isn’t there.

These are things young people are doing across the board and herein is where we meet the intersection of “I’m young and hip.” And “These Kid’s today!” The people providing outraged commentary are not of the generation that is consuming this.  They are like unto the elders of yesteryear complaining about the Beatles and their “long hair.”

The professor goes on to state that white people basically never get a pass on “black music.” What an unfortunate viewpoint.  I had always considered the ultimate goal of integration to actually INTEGRATE.  You know; be who you want, like what you want, behave like an asshole if you want without race coming into the argument. The problem I see here is this dog in the manger attitude that nobody can do something I think is mine or belongs to my culture even if I am not doing it.  Even if it wasn’t really intended to be related at all.

Wrapping it all up is the suggestion that Miley “Could stand to take some black history courses.”  This is just mean spirited and insulting really.  Everyone could stand to take some black history courses.  Black people could also stand to take some Eastern European history courses, so what?  We need to be encouraging, not insulting.

 

As Tamara Winfrey Harris of What Tami Said once wrote

A Japanese teen wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo of a big American company is not the same as Madonna sporting a bindi as part of her latest reinvention. The difference is history and power. Colonization has made Western Anglo culture supreme–powerful and coveted. It is understood in its diversity and nuance as other cultures can only hope to be. Ignorance of culture that is a burden to Asians, African and indigenous peoples, is unknown to most European descendants or at least lacks the same negative impact.

“It matters who is doing the appropriating. If a dominant culture fancies some random element (a mode of dress, a manner of speaking, a style of music) of my culture interesting or exotic, but otherwise disdains my being and seeks to marginalize me, it is surely an insult.

 

Others go on to say: “Think of Derelicte, or of dressing kids up as “homeless” for Halloween. Inappropriate. Wearing a gold chain isn’t blackface, just like buying a turquoise ring in Arizona is not offensive like calling your panties “Navajo” or modeling lingerie in a Native American headdress. But it’s important to understand that Miley is very privileged to be able to play dress up and adorn herself with the trappings of an oppressed/minority culture. She can play at blackness without being burdened by the reality of it.”

Okay, but when are the “others” going to let the “white power” thing go?  What/how much needs to be done before white people can appreciate and enjoy what is being created by other races?

“Miley and her ilk need to be reminded that the stuff they think is cool, the accoutrements they’re borrowing, have been birthed in an environment where people are underprivileged, undereducated, oppressed, underrepresented, disenfranchised, systemically discriminated against and struggling in a system set up to insure that they fail.” –Dodai Stewart

Really?  With all the very real race problems we are going to worry about Miley Cyrus putting on the “accoutrements” of Twerking?  Is that really what Black people want to hold onto as a cultural treasure?  And did Twerking really arise from being birthed in an underprivileged, oppressed, discriminating environment? Good Gods! I had no idea being Black and undereducated caused Twerking! Let’s get on that right away.

that's what she said

Miley’s style is more like Zef anyway, which has had its own problems because American Blacks don’t understand South Africa.

Compare her Unicorn Video

 

To Die Antwoord

Or this one they came under major fire for:

 


So much so, they had to explain the blackface to western people of all races…and Lady Gaga.


Punk Rock Empowerment

What happens when Punk Rock isn’t Punk anymore?  When those voices like Green Day have gone commercial or disappeared a la Johnny Rotten?  When everything has become homogenous what is Punk?

I think it might be Miley.  She’s not doing this shtick for a cause, to call awareness to anything.  I don’t think she’s doing it just to shock and upset people’s parents.  She’s doing it because she wants to and she can. (I really can’t see any other reason to wear plastic granny panties) And what is more punk rock than just doing what you want?

In addition, she doesn’t seem to be fucking up just for the sake of fucking up, like say Courtney Love or Amanda Bynes.  Indeed she doesn’t seem to be fucking up at all, unless you count the unfortunate riding up of those granny panties.

miley-cyrus-bum

She’s doing the things all young people do at her age experiencing her sexuality, challenging people who put her in a Disney/princess/example to all young girls box.  It isn’t okay to think that the mass production of Disney fabricated personalities are never going to grow up.  It’s this very thought that makes so many young people freak the hell out and overdo it on their acting out.

I’m not saying that Miley is doing great-good things.  What I’m saying is she isn’t doing anything necessarily “bad”.    She’s doing exactly what most people do when they reach 20 and go to college or college parties at least. (It might be worth noting when I went to Google her age, all I wrote was “how old is….” Before Miley Cyrus popped up in first place followed by The Earth, so you know…people are interested =excellent marketing)

She seems in most other settings to be a well spoken, business savvy young woman. I went back and checked the red-carpet coverage before the VMA’s because it was interesting to me to see if she was tripping bells before she went on stage.  To the contrary she did excellently at her Q&A.  She knows the business of HER and she is using it to her advantage.

 

 

 

http://jezebel.com/on-miley-cyrus-ratchet-culture-and-accessorizing-with-514381016

http://www.vice.com/read/miley-cyrus-needs-to-take-an-african-american-studies-class

16 Comments on “Miley and why She Can’t Stop”

  1. I think this whole charade was simply about provoking people to have sex. You’re seriously overcomplicating it.

    I think every guy who watched Miley Cyrus’ performance at the VMAs was tempted to bang her…really hard. It’s very likely that some ladies may have felt such a temptation too. So, it’s simple: boys wanna do her, and girls wanna be like her so boys will want to do them too.

    The other aspects of her show were completely worthless IMO. I don’t think anyone even heard her singing.

  2. I really don’t feel people need to be provoked to have sex. Although clearly Miley was using sex as a tool, I think her goal is to graduate from the tween set.

    Neither do I feel tha I am over complicating it. My thoughts/opinions are in answer to what people are talking about. The race issue in particular. No matter what, she would have been criticised for that. If she had gone with all white dancers, she would have been labeled racist. As it happens she went with mostly Black dancers and was still labeled as racist. Nevermind the fact that she likely has nothing to do with the hiring of dancers.

    The same is true for the Alan Thicke mash-up that lacked chemistry. MTV chooses what performers go together, the point is, why does she get the heat for it?

    Also, it just wasn’t as shocking as people made it out to be. “Twerking” has been happening on dance floors for a long time now. At least since the Jazz era. Only the name is new.

  3. I think the reason you feel people don’t need to be provoked to have sex is because you live in a country where people are constantly being provoked to have sex. People in the west live in a perpetual state of sexual provocation, IMO. And the age of admission into the sexual club is also dropping really fast. I believe a lot kids are having sex in high school now.

    By contrast, before pornography started to spread in Iran, the vast majority of Iranians did not even know about the sexual functions of their genitalia up until their wedding night when traditionally an old woman would educate the couple. And even then most of them abided by Islamic laws concerning sex, which means sex wasn’t even really sexy to them, just a means of producing children to help with the field-labor. After a long day’s work in the desert, it’s very rare to find someone who is in the mood to have sex for fun. Especially if your wife is also extremely religious and not sexy by any stretch of the imagination. Unfaithfulness and adultery were simply unheard of in those days. Bald men were also very rare.

    Western people are indoctrinated about sex, while they believe they are actually educated.

  4. Other than the fact that my dog did not like the music and began howling, I didn’t find the videos particularly disturbing, but then, I believe I probably am well indoctrinated into the overt sexuality of American pop culture. While Miley’s performance seemed to me to mock this sexuality, at the same time, I think the entire display was a capitalization of the punk rock video performing arts scene, and in some ways very appropriate for our current interpretation of entertainment. It was sensual overload, like those action flicks that show a runaway subway train smashing through the waiting stations, tearing up platforms, reaching the end of the line, plowing through a building out into the streets, demolishing store fronts, glass panels splintering, turning over a market place, throwing vehicles into the air, that in turn do their destruction, electrical sparks spraying, rolling over seven times to ultimately come to a steaming rest in the middle of a busy intersection.

    It’s a culture that can’t be sated. The charges of racism are ridiculous. Little blonde girl in a black ghetto is a norm. She stands out, feels unique. Believes she has found the admiration and appreciation she would not otherwise receive in a white, working class world. Take a walk into any US American city that has a low income black neighborhood and you will find your snowballs skating the wild edges of drugs, sex and gangsta identity.

    All that is truly disturbing is this is a mirror reflection of what America has become. Art is tossed aside for sensationalism. Sexuality is sadly mistaken for sensuality. Mimicry replaces any true understanding of culture. Whether Miley truly understands this, I don’t know. I do perceive that she exploits this.

    And this is also the norm. We are a society that worships youthfulness, sexuality and violence. We cash in on it. We welcome it into our television sets. We are not shocked by anything. Instead, the more shocking it appears, the more pious and righteous we feel. The more it justifies our every action. Moral decline is the symptom of a civilization in decline and there is nothing short of a renaissance that will save us.

  5. Black Flag, Minor Threat and The Sex Pistols are punk rock. The themes associated with punk music are non-conformity, anti-authoritarinism, rebellion, anti-social paranoia, anti-establishment political ideas, anarchy and so on and so forth.

    I remember when Avril Lavigne was presented as hardcore punk by MTV back in the early 00s. Miley Cyrus and Avril, if i may say so, are the total anti-thesis of Punk. All the original punk bands of the 70s and 80s would shudder in their graves at the idea of being lumped together with the likes of Miley, Avril and Green Day, who stand for everything they despised.

    Miley, and every band/musician associated with MTV, are instruments of the establishment. I wanna stress that this is a pretty straight forward fact, and in no way is it just my personal opinion. Miley Cyrus is all about promoting self-image, pop culture, money, sexuality, fame and being an MTV-engineered role model for young people. She is not an artist by any definition, she is a propaganda tool.

    While you and I might not be particularly affected by her antics, I assure you that her performance (and others like it) do have quite a noticeable effect on the impressionable minds of, for example, Iranian youth. The young people in Iran look to American TV for enlightenment, they look to MTV for what is cool and hip. They don’t laugh at Miley Cyrus the skank, performing lewd gestures in front of millions of people for a few bucks and a few moments in the spotlight. No. They see her as a role model to be mimicked and imitated.

    Young girls in Iran have such a thing as shame. They would feel degraded, embarrassed and humiliated by flaunting their bodies as cheap sex objects for the pleasure of men. Miley Cyrus is demonstrating that not only is there no shame in being a slut, it’s a great way to attract attention and it is what men desire. This leads me to believe that the agenda here is essentially to provoke people to have sex. Meanwhile, contraception is being shoved down people’s throats like tic tacs.

    This is the promotion of sex for pleasure. The black dancers in the background, and the writers who intellectualize Miley’s display are just a subterfuge.

  6. Peter, it would depend on if you are looking at just American Teen sex rates or at the history of humans. Humans have been having sex as teens forever, it’s the most fertile time really. And people are healthier so yeah, over the course of human history I’d bet against you.

    I would hold back on the American teens though. Too much at play there as there is a lot of sex that can be had without getting pregnant however teens typically don’t report it as “sex” because in their undeveloped minds they don’t always classify it as “sex”

  7. I think you are assuming that before the modern idea of sex for pleasure with contraception was introduced, people’s sexual habits were any different than those of other animals. Wild animals have mating seasons outside of which they can rarely be coaxed to have sex, unless by artificial means which is exactly what is being employed on people.

    So, I think in terms of the history of the world, the amount of sex people are having in the modern age is equal or more than all other eras of human activity combined. If I’m wrong and people have always been the way they are today, then all the sexual gimmicks on TV and in movies are absolutely worthless. Perhaps all advertisements on TV and in movies are ineffective?

  8. Peter, I think you’re assuming birth control is a modern idea. But then I am working on the assumption that you are a man, so perhaps you are not aware that birth control has been employed by women with a good degree of success since Sumerians were the history keepers. Then again, perhaps that’s what you mean by ‘modern’ since they also employed pornography.

    I do however believe that sex useful in the grand purview for more that procreation and that biologically we do differ from many other animals, hence no mating season or heat. We are by no means the only animal that bonds this way though.

    I did also forget to address the whole idea of Punk Rock. Punk Rock in its purest form eschews social messages and is there to shock, wake up and make the audience feel alive. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols famously yelled at reporters trying to tag him with some sort of social agenda. It is chaos and anarchy. I know Miley likely doesn’t see herself that way, but inadvertently her performance could be…

  9. I don’t agree that birth control and pornography existed before our current era that we live in. I think the people who control the media, the publishing industry and the general flow of information have made up a whole lot of nonsense about our past to justify their present manipulation of society. All we have to do is look at primitive societies today to see how we ourselves were in the past. (Did you know that cosmologists observe stars in different stages of their evolution to find out the past and present of our Sun?)

    I really don’t see why anyone in the past would have needed birth control, when their whole purpose for having sex was to produce laborers to further their own cause and the cause of their overlords. Neoantecide was the method commonly employed in case of an unwanted (usually female) child.

    The “sexyness” and “pleasurableness” attached to sex are totally psychological IMO. I think it is easily possible to mentally associate pleasure, lust and sexyness with anything under the sun. Our minds have simply been trained to associate them with sexual intercourse. Did you know that the ancient gods were said to enjoy feeding on human sexual energy, in addition to human blood, emotions and toil?

    Maybe I’m just a paranoid conspiracy theorist. Or maybe we’re being milked dry of our life essence while we enjoy the absurd manipulation of our psychological/neurological reward-pleasure systems. What would happen if we associated pleasure and happiness not with penises going into vaginas, but with the pursuit of knowledge and learning? Isn’t it suspicious that at age 6 our greatest pleasure in life is learning new things, but after 12 years of school we come out completely preoccupied with sex (and money) and totally despising learning and knowledge?

  10. Great article, Grainne. I don’t really get the big deal over the event, except that it made people talk about MTV for a change. I get why everyone was talking…it’s a generation gap thing going on. My generation, probably not so turned on by it because of its emo-cross gender thing going on. But today’s kids were all hot and bothered by it. In the end though, it wasn’t anything so trail blazing. I guess she accomplished what she wanted, which is to shed her old image. Talk to anyone in Hollywood who’s type-casted and miserable…and they probably wish they could go back and do a Miley at the right time.

  11. All that cannabis you’ve eaten must have killed your sex drive and now you have a complex, Peter 😉

    Excellent work Grainne. When you get away from all of the ‘politically correct’ cheap shots in mainstream, the real world can be more similar to your proposals.

    For instance Arsenio Hall and George Carlin put on a terrific reversed roles act where they held court (on Hall’s show), Carlin speaking fluent Black English, Hall presenting in flawless Queen’s English. When the initial cognitive dissonance was over, it was both; a riot to watch and simply killed stereotype in its tracks. There is a lot of cultural cross-over in reality. My Black friends could care less what Spike Lee would think of my racial satires, Barack Obama is culturally White and more Blacks are waking up to that fact every day. White is a cultural value, no different to Black is a cultural value and we know culture is not necessarily race pre-determined. There certainly can be a predilection for Black skins to be Black culture and same for White, Red, Yellow or various Browns, but there is no way race finally determines a culture in individuals.

    Fat egos like Spike Lee hold far less sway in (and take tons of heat from) the Black community, more so than many would realize, despite any image media cultivates. What media cultivates is a veneer reality, yes it is a reality but it is a reality that crumbles when you cross borders into community-cultural realities.

    Dog barking, gotta run 😉

  12. Propaganda has always been art and vice versa. Dadaism clearly illustrates this, so does street art/graffiti Performance art. Pussy Riot, and Wagner both mixed art and propaganda. All the Popes of Rome and Princes of kingdoms understood this when they commissioned art. Art tells a story, most of the time that story is pointedly directed at the masses.

  13. My idea of art is the guy who sits at the park in the evening playing guitar, just for the pleasure of being heard by whoever passes by. No agendas, no ulterior motives, just playing for the sake of emotional release.

    Or maybe art is the guy who sits on a bench in the town plaza pondering philosophical questions all day long while countless people come and go. Or the guy standing a few feet away from him capturing the essence of people’s comings and goings in a painting. Either way, their idea of the world is much more accurate than the painters and philosophers who get payed to describe the world.

    Art could even be a bunch of young people performing street theater at a crowded square on a summer night, telling stories from their own inventory of life experiences. No fancy writing teams and psycho-analysts planting hidden queues in the stories to provoke people. No distasteful nudity to make men think “Why oh why did I marry that cow when I could have been fucking Miley Cyrus?”

    When art is financed by a rich pocket behind the scenes, it loses the soul of artistic endeavour IMO while maintaining the superficial appearance. The overall difference is remarkable.

    And regarding our earlier conversation. I happened to overhear a discussion at a party a few nights ago that I thought was very pertinent to what we were discussing here, so I’ll share it with you. A 50 year old woman was describing her college days at Pahlavi University of Shiraz, one of the top educational institutions in Iran during the days of the Shah.

    She described that a bunch of boys and girls would stay up all night in their dorm room, studying together until morning, but not once did they experience anything sexual during those nights. Not even the slightest sexual vibes or tension. To quote her words exactly “It was as if we didn’t know about sex and sexuality.” Then she compared this to today’s kids who are banging eachother in high school (and if I may add, masturbating in junior high because their sex-ed teacher highly recommends it.) I thought her insight was so accurate and appropriate that it deserved a place in the history books.

    But history books (and propaganda pseudo-history TV shows like Game of Thrones, because lets face it, who reads history books anymore?) present the image that people were having sex for pleasure thousands of years ago. This is an outright lie and falsification of history. During the age-long reigns of the Judaic religions, there was no concept of sex for fun among the masses, only lust and fornication as grave sins. And before this the average person’s vocabulary and mental capabilities were so limited that they probably hadn’t even formulated a mental image of sexyness and pleasure pertaining to flesh.

    But next the propaganda machine is going to be telling us that all animals know sexyness and that lecherous male penguins secretly lust for the butts of feathered peacocks in their heads.

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