Everyone is piling on Miley Cyrus for her performance at the Mtv VMAs last night. I’ve seen her called “skank”, “attention whore”, her body being criticized as unwomanly and undesireable, and even someone saying she “covered herself in STDs and crack”. Others have talked about Robin Thicke and criticized the appropriateness of a married 36 year old dancing in a sexually suggestive way with a 20 year old women. All of those are stupid things to talk about. They are sex negative, misogynist, slut shaming, body policing nonsense. In the “STDs and crack” line you get bonus racist dog whistles, and as for the whole age-difference and suggestions of infidelity in the Cyrus/Thicke pairing, it’s really not any of our place to speculate on what two adults and their partners see, do, or tolerate. Shut all the way up about any of that for now.
Lets talk about cultural appropriation. You had two white performers cashing who have cashed in big time by playing tourist with Black music and culture. In Robin Thicke’s case the appropriation is such that hes been accused of plagiarism. Why are we, as white people, so much more obsessed with making sure people “act right” in regards to our claimed sexual standards but we don’t seem to give a damn about cultural appropriation? A lot of you probably don’t even think its a big deal. I disagree, and this quote from Flavia Dzodan of Red Light Politics explains why:
“The problem with cultural appropriation is that it replaces the original with a copy created by the dominant culture. It dilutes the original, removes all symbolic value from it and replaces it with a ready to consume product devoid of context and meaning.
“Cultural appropriation, at its most extreme, is a violent form of colonization. It removes the original group behind the culture and reinforces stereotypes about that group. The mechanism of commodifying a culture ends up being a tool to reinforce racism, as it reduces the people behind those cultures to a mere cartoon-like representation of their realities. It’s a great way to ultimately ‘other’ and objectify entire groups of people by taking something that is dynamic and ever evolving and freezing it for a marketing photo opportunity.”
Seriously people. Stop tearing apart Miley about how she looks and what you think she should be doing with her body and lets use this as an opportunity to self-reflect and stop being so shitty.