Twerkin’ in the USA: On Big Sean and Miley Cyrus

by Guest Contributor Lima Limon of LimaLimonArt

Can’t see the video? Here’s a basic transcript:

I’d like to call this blog “Twerkin’ in the U.S.A.”

Now, lately Miley Cyrus has been putting herself ass first into the hip-hop scene. And you won’t guess where that ass showed up next. Big Sean has this song called “Fire,” and I like this song. You know, he raps about overcoming adversity and manages to avoid saying “ass” 30 times for the chorus. SO the message and the lyrics are nice and the beat is pretty on point to match it.

Then there’s the video, which is basically just Miley Cyrus in different slightly revealing clothes, some fire and an exploding flower. Now the visuals are dope and Miley Cyrus is attractive, but that doesn’t really have much to do with the actual song itself. Oh but luckily he explains via Twitter. He says “Miley is symbolic of strong women overcoming heartbreak.”

Vato, you ain’t fooling nooobody with that shit. Let’s be honest that’s not why you did it. Cause plenty of actresses, models, stars, whathaveyou could’ve easily filled that metaphor. Megan Good, Adriana Lima, and apparently Levy Tran is down to do whatever type of music video gig.

So I will give it to you, those visuals were sick and at the very least you didn’t use an exaggeratedly muscular WWE create-a-wrestler version of yourself for your music video. (see Kanye West’s Blkkk Skkkn Head music video) But let’s be real. Big Sean. Miley. Y’all used each other. Sean, you used Miley Cyrus for the fact that she’s currently a buzz word in pop culture right now. So what did Miley get to use from this?

Well basically, Miley just hopped on the opportunity to validate her new conversion into hip-hop culture. Now, some have taken her twerking as a way of “self expressing herself” through her ass. And you know what? That could be the case. I mean, I’m a b-boy and in the breakin’ or “breakdance” community, it doesn’t matter what skin tone you are as long as you know how to dance.

But, ya know, just to throw another opinion into the mix and to add depth to the conversation, maaaybe she’s just totally using “ratchet culture” as a way to break away from her Disney channel image.

Popular blogs such as Jezebel(.com) and Racialicious(.com) have written a pretty interesting stance on this. They basically argue that she gets to twerk or “act ratchet” (which is all a part of lower-class or specially POC lower-class culture) and then when the concert or music video is over she gets to return to her higher-class, privileged lifestyle where she doesn’t have to worry about lower-class concerns or institutional racism.

Now, I think that argument has a point when you consider the fact that in her latest video, she seemed to use Black women exclusively as background pieces or accessories for every scene where she was dancing. Almost like a stamp of approval, right? (Argument made on Jezebel) Then later on she’ll put on the light trim of a gold grill and do whatever the hell this is (Stank face clip).

Aight, this is a little off-topic, but one part of that music video (for “We can’t stop”) that I could not stop watching was that part when Miley Cyrus gets stomped on the floor. (Shows clip) Oooh! Ooh God! Oh, that clearly wasn’t intended. Oh… one more time. (Clip again) Ooh, you think she got mad at that? What do you think she did? Was she cool with that? Oh, one more time.

Anyway, just in case anyone saw through that excuse he used on twitter. Big Sean also told MTV News that “I wanted to use someone who was beautiful and I wanted to take her out of her element.” I mean yeah, she might be a little out of her element with this, but it’s moves like this that put her further into the hip-hop element, right? So now that she was casted for that she’s definitely gonna feel like she’s validated in the hip-hop scene. And she’s gonna get more and more experimental with “ratchetness” in her image.

I mean you know how people got that “black friend defense.” “No, no, no, no, no. I’m not racist. My friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s half-brother is black so…”

Well now Miley Cyrus is gonna have the black rapper defense,” which is kinda like. “Oh, no no no no. I can be ratchet. Didn’t you see when I was in that hip-hop music video for Big Sean. Or when I was on stage dancing with Juicy J?”

And you know what? I’m willing to bet that the black community is not gonna be behind that logic. Especially when you consider the fact that most rappers won’t hesitate to let any attractive women, regardless of skin tone, either dance on stage with them or dress lightly in their music video.

I mean, let’s look at the roots of why Miley Cyrus chose this life path. Y’all remember that song “Every Girl” by Young Money back in 2009?

(“Every Girl” by Young Money lyrics) “For free suits I’d give Paris Hilton all-nighters. In about three years, holla at me Miley Cyrus.”

And the seed was planted.

And now maybe she’s just twerkin’ her way up to it, you know? Just twerkin’ up the courage to approach Young Money. Naw, but in all seriousness though somewhere out there in America, Miley Cyrus is twerkin’ in celebration. You know? Just shakin’ her privileged, upper-class backside for the fact that she’s being accepted one booty bounce at a time.

In conclusion, Big Sean I think your song is cool, but I had to call you out on that BS excuse, man.

Because next thing you know, someone’s gonna start using that logic to be like,

“Ah you know, I casted Amanda Bynes, because she just has that ‘I don’t give a fuck attitude’ that I feel like this video needs, you know?”

Man, get your publicity-stunt-havin’ ass outta here. Man, go propose to Nicki Minaj or something.


Let’s Get Ratchet: Check Your Privilege at the Door [Racialicious]

On Miley Cyrus, Ratchet Culture and Accessorizing With Black People [Jezebel]

Big Sean Explains Casting Miley Cyrus For “Fire” Video [Hot New Hip Hop]

What’s Miley Doing In ‘Fire’ Video? Big Sean Explains![MTV]

About This Blog

Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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  • jen*

    I just remember when she came out with Party In the USA and someone asked her what Britney and Jay-Z songs she liked, and she was like – I don’t listen to that music, I just sang the words of the song.

    • Aukai Akiliano

      *Party in the USA was actually written by Jessie J.