Hi People of the Internet!
Based on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and every other social media platform ever invented, the most important thing that has happened in the last 24 hours is a performance by Miley Cyrus on MTV’s VMA Awards. I have the luxury of being in Japan where this was neither aired nor talked about nor if it was talked about could I understand it. But I looooooove the Internet so I’m well versed in the events. I even looked up some video footage!
Here is what I saw: I saw a 20 year old. Singing a song. Dancing around. To a concept someone else certainly envisioned and created and convinced her was a good idea. I saw her nearly naked, like somehow this should be shocking by now, and then I learned a painful first lesson about what ‘twerking’ actually means. It was probably in poor taste, certainly a bit vulgar at moments, a little awkward to watch. End.
Here is what concerns me: THIS IS SO IRRELEVANT IT IS INSANE. There is so much anger and outrage towards this young woman, you can feel it in your browser. I know we all can’t spend our days as Greenpeace activists or climate change scholars, but I would find it heartening if the number of people in my feeds who are upset about this would put this amount of energy into SOMETHING ANYTHING PICK ONE that really matters. I will slip into a depression if I start listing off every single thing that qualifies here, but think women’s rights or food safety or drone warfare or income inequality or sweatshops or animal testing or child hunger. Feel passionate about something real, and have fun with the stuff that is not.
Before everyone goes all ‘OK WE GET IT YOU ARE BETTER THAN US JERK’, let’s be clear that I am not arguing against mindless pop culture as means of relaxation and entertainment. I watch Project Runway. I read Twilight so I could know what we were all talking about. I like to laugh and point and stare and have fun like that. It’s fine, we’re humans, it’s not all Proust and quantum mechanics and world peace. But all this garbagey fun has a time and place. For example, the Miley Cyrus thing: place would be ‘wherever you were sitting when you saw it’ and time would be ‘the duration of the song and possibly 90 additional seconds.’ And yet, the next day, the memes are multiplying, the status updates are continuing and Twitter spits out a snarky Miley tweet every 4th line.
Here’s the other thing: if we are going to obsessively talk about this, let’s actually talk about it. Let’s educate ourselves about minstrel shows and think about the implications of the visual and racial representation of her performance and her recent video. Or maybe, and I mean MAYBE MAYBE, let’s question our reaction and ask how far we’ve internalized the misogyny of our culture when we are SO DISGUSTED by the actions of a 20 year old woman who expressed herself with sexuality but no one pays mind to the 36 year old man who was the object of said twerking. A man who is 16 years older, is a father, certainly had just as much if not more ability when practicing this number to say ‘Hey everybody! This feels inappropriate! I’m not sure I want to do it this way!’ No no, HE isn’t slutty. HE isn’t disgusting. He is just a victim of being twerked by a girl who was doing something sexual but not doing it while being pretty enough and acting too weird in the meantime. Given that his Blurred Lines video itself is simply him being really gross around topless women, I guess I should have already figured he had a free pass. They give those out to people with penises.
Final note to consider: Miley Cyrus, weird dad and crazy child star life and with the gall to cut off her sexual hair and all, is a human being. And, my dear Internet, you are being very very rude.