Ever since her awkward “twerking” at the VMA’s all I’ve seen all over the blogs, on facebook and instagram is Miley, Miley, Miley and honestly I feel like that younger sister on the Brady Bunch, I’m tired of hearing it. What annoys me isn’t the fact that twerking, a very old creation is now a phenomenon because a white former Disney star has decided to do it everywhere she goes, or the fact that she’s shaped like a lower case “I” ( just head and a straight body no curves), I can live with all that. What bothers me is the fact that her oversexualized behavior, rebellious attitude, and overt drug references are somehow being portrayed as her trying to emulate black and hip hop cultures.
Since her first twerking video critics and fans alike have said that Miley is trying to “black” or part of “black culture”. Apparently being “in the club high off purp” and dancing provocatively is what being black is all about, according to Miley and the media at least. What Miley and some of the rappers co signing her don’t seem to be aware of or acknowledge is the fact that black women in particular have historically been portrayed as overtly sexual and promiscuous. The Jezebel stereotype has it’s origins in slavery but has continued to be prevalent in America. From 1970’s movies about amazingly skilled black prostitutes to films like Monster’s Ball, black women in popular American culture has often been depicted as sexual deviants. So when Miley brings a horde of black dancers to gyrate on stage while she slaps their behinds and people refer to that as acting black or copying black culture, I can’t help but to find it offensive and eerily similar to “ghetto parties” (pictured above) hosted by college students on campus’ of universities like University of California San Diego where white students attend the party in their “black costumes”.
Twerking and drug use is not representative of black culture just like taking meth and the KKK are not representative of white culture, and it’s offensive to me to see some suburban Disney teen queen attempt to break her child star image by acting out and calling it acting black. Furthermore now when other critics look at her behavior they are directly associating her wildness (and eventual downfall) with blackness. All the negativity she exudes is simply a product of her new found blackness and adoption of Hip Hop. Artists like Kanye West approving her actions as part of the hip hop culture only goes to prove what many white Americans believe, black people are wild and Hip Hop is all about sex, drugs and trouble.
Miley also brings up a bigger issue within Hip Hop, musical capitalism. A handful of rappers have cosigned for Miley and her ratchet ways which makes any Hip Hop purist ask why? The answer seems pretty, money. If for no other reason than sheer controversy Miley is generating a lot of buzz so being featured on a track of hers or having her jump on yours can mean more exposure and more money. At the end of the day Miley equals money and for a lot of artists that’s all that matters. It seems as though too many MCs have been concerned with making a million and not speaking or representing something of substance. Collectives like the Native Tongues have been replaced with YMCMB and a reactionary music that was rooted in lyricism and storytelling has transformed into a profit driven machine with Miley as its poster child. The rapper Danny Brown states it best,
“I think anybody doing that just trying to eat. Ain't no nigga worried about their own music worried about her. Kendrick Lamar is not trying to do no song with Miley Cyrus. It's just like this, man. It's like the little white girl in the hood that might get you a plug on some pills or some shit. You gonna be nice to her to get your plug or whatever you need to get. They trying to eat,".