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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Miley Cyrus and This Phenomenon Called Twerking

As a general rule, I do not watch awards shows. One afternoon, I was casually watching an entertainment news/tabloid show and the hosts were commenting about the VMA's (MTV Video Music Awards show). Miley Cyrus's performance of "Blurred Lines" with Robin Thicke was the center of much attention and criticism. Although, I didn't watch the entire VMA's, I did get a chance to watch part of the clip from the Cyrus/ Thicke performance. Here's my two cents.

First off, I wouldn't be surprised if she weren't under the influence of some sort of substance during her performance. I think that is why she was able to pull off such raunchy moves and sexual gestures. Robin Thicke didn't seem to be all that aroused by some of her gestures, either. I am hoping that she isn't addicted to or experimenting with any drugs. If that is the case, then she needs a serious intervention and treatment plan, ASAP.

Secondly, the Internet is littered with commentary about how Miley Cyrus is trying to "steal" or "borrow" from Black culture through twerking. There has also been commentary to the effect that Miley Cyrus is trying to "act Black". Some people do not appreciate that she is using the popular dance move. Others, (mainly male) get off on it.

I've read posts from others saying that twerking originated from African dance. Well, if this is true, twerking does not have the same cultural contexts as African dance. There is no comparison between African women dancing in their native Africa and African Americans (or other ethnicity) twerking here in the U.S. It's like comparing apples to oranges. Somehow, I feel that twerking is a little more commercialized that traditional African dance.

In my humble opinion, I don't feel that twerking is so much a "black culture thing" as it is an "urban youth culture thing" or "ghetto/ratchet culture thing". Black women aren't the only ones twerking and you don't necessarily need a "dunk" to twerk. I've seen young gay males really rip it, far better than some females (including myself) can. More and more YouTube videos are sprouting up of people from other races and ethnicities twerking.

Yes, there is a multitude of young Black women that enjoy making twerk videos and broadcasting their ass cheeks clapping for the whole world to observe. It's as if these women don' t feel that they have much else to offer society besides displaying themselves as sex objects. Once you go the route of carrying yourself like a slut, it's pretty hard to redeem yourself after the fact. But, the multitude of twerking Black women, does not represent the whole group of Black women.

I am a Black woman, and I do not twerk. The vast majority of self-respecting, decent, progressive Black or African American women do not engage in public twerking. Even though it is something that I don't do, there is nothing wrong with it, as long as it is done so privately or in good taste. There is a time and place for everything. In addition, it is so telling that some media outlets delight in portraying ethnic and racial minorities in a negative light. Most media images or stories that can be found, which depict Blacks and Hispanics as criminals or in debauchery are favored. So, this notion that twerking is a "Black culture thing" is flawed and utterly ridiculous.

I am not particularly interested in seeing Miley Cyrus twerk, but she is an adult. She's not breaking any laws and I take the behavior for what it truly is: A cry for attention and a means to make money. I think that someone got up in her ear and advised her that she needs to do something in order to disrupt her "Disney Darling" typecast and revitalize her career in the music industry. If Miley Cyrus wants to expand her audience to hip-hop crowds, then this is what she may need to do in order to compete and remain relevant. There is a definite market for certain forms of trashy entertainment. I recognized that this is what she was attempting to do when she released the video of herself twerking in the unicorn onesie. If she wants to twerk the meat off of her bones, then I say that she should.


© Copyright 2013  Susan Broadbelt

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