A tangent on the VMAs

Animated gif: Ben Wyatt of Parks & Rec destroys a laptop.If you’re just here for the Camino stuff, you can come back later; I have a post scheduled.

Sorry to get all feminist and political on a Monday morning, guys, except I’m not sorry at all! In fact I’m so mad I might not even need coffee this morning!

Jenny Trout says all the things I was biting my tongue on last night when reactions to the VMAs started to scroll across my Twitter and Facebook feeds. Explicit language ahoy!

So, what I saw on the screen was a young white female pop star appropriating elements of black culture badly in order to break out of a painstakingly Disney-crafted image she’s never going to fully escape. But apparently, the media saw something entirely different.

…It’s wrong to criticize Miley for acting sexually suggestive at an event that thrives off the hyper-sexuality of pop music. If you want to focus on the fact that Miley continues to appropriate black culture, use people of color as accessories, and doesn’t actually know how to twerk, then be my guest, those are legitimate gripes. I mean, Katy fucking Perry showed up with a grill last night. This is a thing. This is happening. But don’t tell me that it was somehow wrong of Miley Cyrus to get up on stage and grind with a guy who wrote an entire song about wanting to turn a “good girl” bad with his magical cock.  Because I’m not buying that double standard for a second.

You don’t like Miley Cyrus, that’s fine; it’s not like I give a damn about Justin Timberlake. And you want to critique her performance for being ridiculously over the top (which is certainly appears to have been) or badly conceived (ditto) or appropriative of black culture (totally), that’s great. Do it without throwing around terms like “cheap stripper” or “trashy” or implying that Robin Thicke, he of the hit video full of silent naked women, was the victim.

It just makes me so angry when people I know and respect — especially men I know and respect — are slinging mud like this. Especially when you know that if it had been a female pop star who’s been known from the start for sexually charged performances, like Katy Perry or Rihanna or Gaga, people would have more or less shrugged it off. Instead, people are shocked, SHOCKED, that a former Disney star has had the temerity to grow up, go through puberty, and have a sexuality in an industry built on the commodification of female sexuality. How dare she!

Not that I should be surprised, I suppose. We and the media have something of a history of clutching our pearls when women perform in a sexually aggressive way at the VMAs.

Britney Spears kissing Madonna at the 2003 VMAs.

Remember the time the fabric of American society crumbled and the pop music industry said “You’re right, we’ve gone too far, we’ve made a horrible mistake and we’ll never again stage such a lewd event for the sake of titillation, publicity, and money”?

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