Miley’s Twerking Minstrel Show

by lizard

I promised myself I wasn’t going to do this, but then I read this Jezebel article: Solidarity is for Miley Cyrus: The Racial Implications of her VMA Performance.

(Before reading the article, I should warn readers there is an assumption in the article that you will automatically know what “twerking” means. Like YOLO, I had to make sure I knew what was being referenced here, so of course I consulted the urban dictionary and Youtube)

I promised myself I wasn’t going to write about Miley Cyrus because I didn’t think it had any bearing on the issues I’m more concerned about, but after reading the article (which I encourage everyone to do) it became clear that Cyrus’ performance is significant, and needs some thoughtful, impassioned analysis, which the article provides, in detail.

Apparently the racist critique isn’t one readily taken up by the more mainstream white feminist focus on “slut-shaming”. In reaction to this, “NinjaCate” has this to say:

See the problem isn’t that they talked about slut shaming. That deserves attention. The problem is that they completely sidestepped the other glaring teddy bear in the room, and that is the commodification of black female sexuality in Miley’s performance. But it’s not a thing that white women deal with, so it didn’t warrant inclusion or discussion by the white-led mainstream feminist media.

So I’ll include it here. What Miley did last night was easily one of the most racist displays I’ve ever seen. From her insistence on twerking, to her use of all black women as literal props (they were teddy bears) to her smacking of her dancer’s ass and the simulation of rimming, it is very clear to me, that Miley thinks that black women’s bodies are to be enjoyed, devalued and put on display for entertainment purposes.

It’s especially timely to give this issue some thought, considering tomorrow is the official anniversary of MLK’s Dream speech, where he described the triple evils of poverty, racism, and militarism.

Then, the day after that, America will probably be bombing Syria.


  1. d.g.

    jesus god it was ill-conceived, poorly rehearsed and thus poorly performed. i think she offended teddybears more that any specific ethnicity (oh, and choreography and concept and good=healthy shock value and the blessed element of absurdity. someone is exploiting her naive perception of what it is to be avant garde

  2. NamelessRange

    Let’s be real. Miley Cyrus is kind of embarrassing. But we should now a priori that her primary goal is to sell records via publicity. Given that assumption, Miley is the most rational person in the room isn’t she?

    Ninjacate is reaching. If that was the most racist display she has ever seen, she is sheltered as hell. Though it may have found its source in Black culture, a white chick engaging in twerking is no more racist than a white individual engaging in anything else that began in black culture. She simulated rimming! Egads. White people don’t do that! Especially to bear/human hybrids. She used people as props who were black? We can view screenshots of hundreds of other performances from hundreds of other celebreties who use soley white individuals as props. And in a very objectifying way at that. If we imply in any way that any body of any ethnicity is to be enjoyed, are we implying that its sole purpose is our enjoyment? Does that imply a devaluation of their existence? No. The sole inclusion or exclusion of any subgroup in a performance or discussion does not imply raw prejudice. It can sure. The performance was wierd, awkward and sucked.

    Speaking of conclusions that don’t follow, I surely hope that we will not be bombing the hell out of Syria. Even if we were to grant the premise that the regime actually was the contingent that used chemical weaponry. (which may or may not have been used and probably wasn’t by them) It still makes little sense to bomb anyone,as anyone with half a heart should already knows. I was glad to see Matthew Yglesias give a shout out to GiveWell and the concept of effective altruism in his Slate article ” Military Strikes Are An Extremely Expensive Way to Help Foreigners”.

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/08/27/syria_intervention_cost_military_strikes_are_a_highly_cost_ineffective_way.html?fb_ref=sm_fb_share_chunky_bottom

    That’s it dudes.
    And dudettes.
    And those outside of binary gender categorization.
    And nonhumans.
    And inanimate objects.

  3. Jack Ruby

    There is no significance to miley cyrus. She is just copying and pasting what was done by Madonna decades ago, and maybe someone before Madonna but im not old enough to remember that far back.

    • Elvis …

      • Craig Moore

        Marilyn Monroe, but without her class. Before your time.




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