My Problem with Miley Cyrus

I just don't understand.

I just don’t understand.

I know I’m a little late getting in on this Miley Cyrus VMA Fiasco and no one really cares anymore, but I’m getting in on it anyway.

Much has been made of her “scandalous” performance, that creepy foam finger, her twerking compulsion and the provocative outfits, but if you’re old enough to have witnessed Cher dancing around in a ribbon leotard with a bunch of sailors (If I Could Turn Back Time), remember experimental early 90’s Madonna (Erotica Album) or listened to any Pitbull lyrics (Have you listened to Toma? Si tu quiere’ que te coma toda, Abre las pierna’ y dale Toma — Google translate it), if you’ve experienced any of the aforementioned situations at all, you’re probably not all that scandalized with Miley’s antics. Sure, some people wish she’d stick to her wholesome Hannah Montana image, but she grew up in the public eye — a very critical, not so kind eye — so what did we all expect would happen?  Let’s face it people, she can’t be Hannah Montana forever.

Cher in ribbon leotard back in the day. we  watched this video over and over with my siblings when we were way too young and turned out just fine. None of us even turned into ribbon-wearing sailor dancers.

Cher in her infamous ribbon leotard back in the day. I watched this video over and over with my siblings when we were way too young and we turned out just fine. None of us even turned into ribbon-wearing sailor dancers.

Madonna during her Erotica phase.

Madonna during her Erotica phase. We lived through this in the early 90s so to all those who Miley offended, I have this to say to you: This too shall pass. One day, not too far into the future, Miley will once again have long dirty blonde extensions and a tamer image. The world will continue to turn despite the twerking revolution. 

Is Pitbull's objectifying of women really less offensive than a young, confused ungraceful Miley Cyrus at the VMA's?

Is Pitbull’s objectifying of women really less offensive than a young, awkward Miley Cyrus at the VMA’s? She’s 20. He’s 30 something and still wears white suits, sunglasses and treats women like play things in all his videos. I don’t hear all the morning talk shows asking what went wrong with Pitbull. 

So as you can see from the above pictures, Miley Cyrus is not the first person to dress less than modestly during a musical performance. She is not the first person to gyrate or twerk it up on stage. She is not even the first pop star to make a questionable hairstyle choice. Sure, she looked like a baby triceratops at a furry convention during the VMAs, and she’s probably only a few months away from a meltdown (it’s not her fault…can you imagine receiving that amount of criticism and scrutiny from such a young age? I’d already have several meltdowns and rehab stints under my belt if I were Miley) but would I say I’m offended by her performance? No. My sensibilities were not offended by the skin-colored leotard bikini thing or even by seeing a barely legal chick stick her butt in a creepy middle-aged guy’s crotch. I can handle all that. I don’t like it, I think it’s off-putting, but I can handle it.

Is it Sara from Land Before time, or is it Miley Cyrus. Because, quite frankly, I'm seeing the same hairstyle, the same tongue action and the same outfit.

Is it Sara from Land Before time, or is it Miley Cyrus. Because, quite frankly, I’m seeing the same hairstyle, the same tongue action and the same outfit.

However, this entry is not a defense of Miley Cyrus. If she wants to twerk and style her hair like Sara from The Land Before Time that’s her prerogative. But I must confess that I’m deeply disturbed by all the tongue action. When it comes to Miley’s tongue, my sensibilities ARE offended. I couldn’t get to sleep last night so I got on Facebook as I do in times of insomnia and one of my Facebook friend posted a link to “22 pictures of Miley Cyrus’ open mouth” (See it here). I admit…I clicked. And I looked through all 22 pictures. And I’ll just say it now: I just can’t help but feel suspicious about anyone, male of female, who feels the need to stick their tongue out so frequently. What exactly are they trying to say? I just don’t understand. Yes, her tongue is longer than average, but why does she have to show it all the time? What is she trying to prove??? That she’s a “bad” girl? That she’s some kind of sex Goddess? Does she stick it out all the time because she’s actually an insect and she uses it to see or smell because it’s an antenna in disguise? Are we supposed to be shocked, impressed or turned on? Because mostly I feel disturbed. I can’t help cringing every time she does her weird tongue thing. So I would like to publicly state, for the record, that I just can’t stand Miley Cyrus’ tongue. I can’t stand it so much that I felt compelled to write an 800 word blog entry about the fact that I can’t stand her tongue. There’s got to be some kind of petition we can all sign to put a stop to all this unnecessary tongue-sticking out action and force Miley Cyrus to return her tongue to its rightful place.



Categories: Observations

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11 replies

  1. I was absolutely disturbed by this too! I didn’t watch the VMAs but I had to check out her performance the next day on Youtube because no one would shut up about it. I don’t care about Hannah Montana and I couldn’t have picked Miley Cyrus out of a line-up but I did cringe SO MANY TIMES during this atrocity. Twerk all you want, kiddo, just put that thing away!

  2. I was absolutely disturbed by this too! I didn’t watch the VMAs but I had to check out her performance the next day on Youtube because no one would shut up about it. I don’t care about Hannah Montana and I couldn’t have picked Miley Cyrus out of a line-up but I did cringe SO MANY TIMES during this atrocity. Twerk all you want, kiddo, just put that thing away!

  3. “He’s 30 something and still wears white suits…” I DIED.

  4. A lot of rappers (most) are male. I don’t see them getting away with everything. In fact, with the exceptions of the corporate endorsed few (Kanye, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, Jay-Z and now T.I.) we are encouraged to loathe them at almost every turn. So that statement is more than a bit erroneous on its face.

    About Miley, the reason this situation causes alarm is very different from Cher’s outfit or Madonna’s ‘phase’. In fact, the mere mention of those things suggests one hasn’t cracked the code on this situation at all. This is about race in America.

    Cher and Madonna were risque for their time but they didn’t really suggest that they were infringing on the color line. Miley and her flirtations with hip-hop and her pretend obsession with twerking are what has (white) America in a tizzy. Combined with the fact that she used to be Hannah Montana and thus has the attention of the coveted innocent young white female demographic.

    This is really a problem for many people.

    She is exposing these young white female eyes to historic American boogie man, the young Black male. Worse, she is making the historic boogie man look cool. White guys have been telling white women for centuries to stay away from the Black man. Now one of their manufactured princesses, Hannah Montana aka the daughter of country music legend Billy Ray Cyrus, is taking the white girls into the domain of rap music and twerking.

    This isn’t to pass judgment on rap or twerking or Miley but to explain what the hoopla is really about. Among many Americans, both liberal and conservative, there is real fear here about a generation of young white women dissolving the color line. It won’t be as simple as watching a Miley Cyrus video/performance but it is a stepping stone. And a big one. For many it is a real dilemma for the maintenance of the social/racial status quo.

    White, heterosexual men sit atop the American social status hierarchy. But they can’t maintain their position alone. They are too outnumbered by everyone else. So they lend out their privilege to white women in return for racial allegiance. If you look at interracial marriage statistics it is clear that this has worked well for centuries. White hetero women choose white partners at a rate of about 95%.

    Now consider the number of het white women who agree with/identify with feminism and try to reconcile that with the degree with which het white women choose white male life partners. The only way to make sense of it is to understand the racial power-sharing agreement going on between white men and white women. The white male establishment understood long ago that if they were to stay on top they had to somehow enlist white women for if white women cast their lot with the rest of the downtrodden of society (Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, homosexuals and others) the game would be up for white men in no time flat.

    This is why Miley Cyrus is a problem. Her lifestyle poses a potential threat to the agreement’s long term sustainability. Obviously Miley is getting establishment consent to do what she is doing so obviously there are some who think a new agreement needs to be reached to shore up white male dominance. But there is likely a majority who haven’t gotten the memo and will defend the centuries old power sharing arrangement to the death.

    • Marcus, your post was complete nonsense! This has nothing to do with race, this is about a young woman in desperate need of help. This isn’t her trying to be “bad” or scare white America… this is about her possibly being addicted to drugs/mentally ill… she looked bat-shit crazy during her performance on the VMAs… that’s why everyone is in such an uproar.

  5. Thanks for the comment!

    I’ve read several critiques of Cyrus’ “reinvention” that frame her VMA performance/new image in terms of race. I remember reading one that said the issue wasn’t the risque outfits or the “twerking” but her objectification of black women and the fact that she incorporates the aspects of black culture she finds useful into her new persona/performances (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/anne-theriault-/miley-cyrus-vma-performance_b_3819177.html).

    I don’t really know what to think. I have short roots in the U.S that date back only to the ’80s, so I sometimes feel like I’m a bit of an outsider when it comes to debates over the state of race and race relations in the U.S. I’m not in the white male group…but I’m also not exactly in the white women group…but I also don’t feel like I can justify placing myself in the minority either because I don’t grow up with that as part of my physical identity. I don’t think I’ve had to grow up with prejudgments or discrimination the way many people have. Great article about white priviledge, by the way…. http://www.isr.umich.edu/home/diversity/resources/white-privilege.pdf

    My family comes from a country where, in my opinion, racism is just as devastating but in a different way…at least 20% of Colombia’s population is black, but this group is almost invisible in government, media, white collar professions, etc. In many ways, I find that racism is much harder to crack in places like Colombia than it is in places like the U.S because up until recently, there’s been no debate…the thought of a white woman marrying a black man in Colombia is completely, utterly unthinkable, as is the thought of a white man marrying a black woman. The social pressure the couple would face would be extreme.

    In Colombia, I always felt like society was very patronizing toward the black population….it’s extremely sad but also fascinating, the way they justify racial status based on these patronizing “truths” about race that are widely accepted in Colombian society. When I was in Colombia, I’d often hear people say that the U.S was such an overtly racist place, and that there was no racism in Colombia…and in many ways, I understand why they felt this way. It’s only been recently that marginalized groups in Colombia (and probably all over Latin America) have started openly questioning these centuries-long social/racial dynamics, this everything/everyone in their place attitude that ultimately contributed to my decision to move back to the U.S. I didn’t want to live in a society that glorified whiteness so much (if you watch a Mexican or Colombian Telenovela you’d think the entire country was made up of blonde-haired, blue-eyed people). And if I had children, I didn’t want them to grow up in that kind of society. I know many people would argue that the U.S is the same or worse, but these are just my observations (as a light-skinned white woman) from living in both places. If you’re interested in talking more about this email me at jjperilla@gmail.com….it’s one of the most fascinating/frustrating aspects of Latin American culture to me).

    Anyway, I have no idea how I even got on the topic of Latin American racial dynamics…back to Miley Cyrus and U.S race struggles…I never meant this post to be about race or really to explore any serious issues in any depth…I just don’t understand why someone has to stick their tongue out so much. I can’t stand it and it is the thing that most turns me off about Miley Cyrus. Superficial, perhaps, missing the bigger point, probably, but it I wasn’t intending to explore the bigger issues…other people have done that much more eloquently than I could.

    In terms of rap stars being loathed by society except for a select few, you’re probably right. What I was saying with the picture of Pitbull is that artists like him use these images of scantily clad women in their music videos, sending the message that success looks like a dude in a white suit perpetually having parties at the Holiday Inn with these women who don’t seem to offer more than their shapely (probably surgically enhanced) bikini bodies. As a woman (one lacking a perfect bikini body but with much to offer) this kind of thing annoys me because it’s so frustrating that these individuals who are so visible in society choose to show women as playthings and objects. Like issues of race, sexuality, social class, etc, these depictions of body images become so internalized and normal in society that as women, we often don’t even realize how much of a role they play in our day-t0-day lives and our perceptions and self-esteem. I think this is kind of what you’re saying about Miley Cyrus…we have these deeply engrained and internalized views/beliefs about race, and sometimes it takes a Miley Cyrus (with mass white people appeal) to shake things up and get people so “riled up” and new discourse/narrative starts developing. And what I want to know is why is this OK to Pitbull? Why have we, as a society, told Pitbull it’s OK? Just my perspective as a woman.

    I think a lot of the time, you’re background shapes the way you interpret people/situations/society. When I watched Miley Cyrus’ performance I admit..race didn’t even enter my mind, and that’s probably a bad thing. It never crossed my mind that she was upsetting any kind of power dynamic. I just saw an overly skinny girl with less than impressive dance moves and singing abilities making tons of money. And maybe that’s what bothered me the most. That’s what gets you on the VMAs???? That’s what we value? I know it’s called pop music/pop culture, but I guess I was just hoping the bar would be a little higher. But I suppose a talent for tapping into a previously unexplored cultural niche could be a talent in itself, even if you can’t sing or dance. I guess it’s all about delivering something that lots of people want.

  6. My sentiments exactly.. This too shall pass 😉

Trackbacks

  1. Thanks a lot, Miley Cyrus | My (Former) Nomad Life

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