Tag Archives: Miley Cyrus

Five of cultural appropriation’s greatest hits

Miley Cyrus neither invented twerking nor cultural appropriation in music. What follows is a crowd-sourced list of some “great” moments in musical cultural appropriation.

“Vogue,” Madonna

Said one contributor to this list, “[Madonna] owes her whole career to appropriation, POC props and GLBT props, too…The idea that people associate her with vogueing is pretty much the textbook definition of appropriation of marginalized cultures, gay and black.”

 

“Waiting on a Friend,” The Rolling Stones

You know what makes New York City look extra gritty? Black people. You know you’ve hit the big time when you can get reggae legend Peter Tosh to serve as a random black extra hanging on a stoop.

 

“Luxurious,” Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani is the patron saint of icky cultural appropriation since that time she tried to keep a posse of Japanese women as pets. Here she kicks it Cali-style with her best Latino friends.

This fuckery committed with her bandmates in No Doubt cannot go unmentioned.

 

“Save a Prayer,” Duran Duran

I was a “Nick girl” back in the mid-80s when every self-respecting teenage girl was a Duranie. It failed to occur to me then how often the band illustrating their jet set coolness by frolicking in front of exotic flora, fauna and, y’know, brown people.

 

“We Can’t Stop,” Miley Cyrus

Would that we could stop this hot mess. If you haven’t read Tressie McMillan Cottom’s piece on the black female bodies Cyrus chose to foreground her whiteness. Do it. Now.

Miley Cyrus, Feminism and The Struggle for Black Recognition

by Guest Contributor Jacqui Germain

[Video NSFW]

On Sunday night, four of my friends and I—all people of color—watched a YouTube clip of Miley Cyrus’ performance completely prepared to laugh and joke about it by its conclusion. We were expecting something that would fit neatly in the long line of ridiculous and yet mostly entertaining awards show performances. Instead, as the YouTube clip reached its end, the room fell completely silent. Even as a writer, I don’t quite have words to describe what that moment felt like. Using academic lingo to explain why cultural appropriation is problematic is one thing; the feeling in your gut when you actually watch parts of your identity being used as props is another. As is true with so many shockingly specific traumatic black experiences, this is a feeling we all recognize immediately, and a feeling we all have no words to describe. In the hours and days following, the critical feminist response was, yet again, a reminder of the ways in which my blackness—even as it exists in concurrence with my femininity—is still actively being othered.

A few weeks have passed since the #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen hashtag first surfaced on Twitter. The subsequent conversation about the lack of representation and further marginalization of women of color by white women in the feminist movement (not at all a new conversation) seemed suddenly reenergized. Women of color have always talked about the subtle racism that happens within the feminist movement; just because you haven’t heard it, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been said—especially considering which narratives are allowed space and which ones aren’t. But with this hashtag, their voices suddenly had a stage. And some white women listened. Some critiqued their own privilege and pointed out the ways the feminist movement has historically dismissed women of color and their experiences. But now, it seems that even those well-meaning white feminists have yet to turn their articles into actual actions.

Most of the responses following Cyrus’ performance have been a conversation of the unconventional way in which she expressed her sexuality on the VMAs stage and the slut-shaming that ensued. Many feminists have since rushed to her defense and appropriately prompted us all to question our immediate negative response to Cyrus’ choice sexual presentation. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a valid stance—in the sense that slut-shaming is certainly a habit that supports rape culture and demanding that society recognizes a woman’s sexual autonomy is hard and necessary work. Back when Cyrus was being sexual without involving the appropriation of my blackness, I was totally on board. Now? Not so much.

Here’s where the racial fissures in feminism come out: by all means, defend a woman’s right to govern her own body; it’s great that white feminists have that goal at the top of their lists. But meanwhile, as a woman of color, I’m still defending my right to actually be considered a body at all and not decoration. Expressing your sexuality at my expense isn’t okay. You don’t get to claim sexual freedom while simultaneously perpetuating the oppression of another body. When you feel the need to express your sexuality by turning my body into an accessory, the black feminist in me—two identities which I refuse to separate—can’t have your back anymore. The feminist struggle is a struggle for autonomy. It’s a fight for recognition and full-body respect. But in Cyrus’ search for and exploration of her sexual identity, she limits my autonomy as a woman of color. She appropriates it. She cheapens it. She effectively uses the identity and lived experiences of so many women of color as a crutch for her career. Continue reading

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? Continue reading

Let’s Get Ratchet! Check Your Privilege At The Door

By Guest Contributor Sesali Bowen; originally published at Feministing

A few days ago I had the–ahem, pleasure?–of seeing the video of Miley Cyrus twerking. I was a little put off by it but couldn’t immediately identify why. There was the obvious discomfort at the fact that she wasn’t really good at twerking in the first place, but there was something else that I just couldn’t get jiggy with. Then I saw her post this picture and it clicked…

 Miley Cyrus tweeted a photo of herself showing off her dancing skills with the hashtag #MCTWERKTEAM!

Via @mileycyrus on Twitter

Her skin and class privilege overfloweth in this poorly executed commodification of  twerking and subsequently “ratchet culture.” In an interview following the twerk video Miley said:

“You can’t really explain [twerking]… It’s something that comes naturally. It’s a lot of booty action… I haven’t really seen one bad comment about my twerk video… This is the first thing! I’m like, ‘I can’t sing, I can’t act, I’m dumb, I’m a hillbilly, but I can twerk, so, whatever.’”

Really Miley? Because there were plenty of bad comments posted about these young women (who twerk much better than you, I should add). It seems that only some people can get by solely on being a good twerker.

Continue reading

Apparently, “Slanty Eyes” Photos are The New Pink

by Guest Contributor Jenn Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

A few months back, Miley Cyrus (a Disney Channel ingenue better known for pop-star alter ego, Hannah Montanah, whom she transforms into by donning a blonde wig — wait, isn’t that the storyline of the Jem cartoon?) raised a blogosphere uproar for this picture of her (centre) at a party where she and her friends pulled their eyes back in a ludicrous “imitation” of slanted Asian eyes.

miley slant eyes

The Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA) released a statement criticizing Cyrus.

The photograph of Miley Cyrus and other individuals slanting their eyes currently circulating the Internet is offensive to the Asian Pacific American community and sets a terrible example for her many young fans. This image falls within a long and unfortunate history of people mocking and denigrating individuals of Asian descent.

“Not only has Miley Cyrus and the other individuals in the photograph encouraged and legitimized the taunting and mocking of people of Asian descent, she has also insulted her many Asian Pacific American fans,” said George Wu, executive director of OCA.


Cyrus issued an official apology
, but also wrote on her blog that she was only “making goofy faces” and was not intentionally “making fun of any ethnicity”. Clearly, Cyrus did not fully grasp the context of her “goofy face” — yellowface makeup, including prosthetics that have purposely slanted eyes have been used in historical and contemporary media to disguise White actors as villainous or buffoonish Asian caricatures.

In the mid-1960’s, British actor Christopher Lee wore yellow makeup and invisible tape on his eyes to portray the insidious Dr. Fu Manchu, an infamous character who originated many of today’s modern anti-Asian stereotypes. (Inset shows Lee today, without makeup).
christopher lee fu manchu

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Miley Cyrus Thinks It’s Cool to Mock Asians

by Latoya Peterson

Now, what did the Spanish Olympic basketball team say when they did it?

Oh, right, it was a “wink.” A sign of “affection.”

Here’s what other bloggers are saying – I don’t really have any words on this one.

Angry Asian Man:

For those who don’t know who the most popular teenager in America is, Miley’s third from the left. Is this how kids are posing for photos these days? Hey! Look at us spoiled punkass hipster kids making racist gestures! Because it’s fun, and we just don’t care. And it’s, like, totally ironic or something, you know? Our friend here is Asian and the rest of us are white! Get it? Watch us all do the silly squint-eye!

Who is the Asian guy, anyway? Sitting there like a tool and letting his “friends” getting away with racist gestures. Not funny. And is it me, or is he actually trying to make his eyes look wider? Couldn’t resist getting to hang out with the cool kids, I guess. Even if it means having to deal with this idiocy. Or maybe he’s forgotten what it feels like when some jerk on the street does that out of real-ass hate.

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