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The events of last Sunday were horrific. Poison was loosed upon innocent civilians—men, women, and children—so it was no wonder The Huffington Post covered the story in such depth, devoting seven front-page stories to it, stories full of righteous wrath…
Of course, there was trouble in Syria, too, but the poisonous display that triggered the Huffington Post’s outrage was The Twerking of Miley Cyrus. (Not just twerking, the nauseated bloggers will be quick to point out–AND rubber-foam-fingering-herself, too…AND big-butt-slapping…AND Robin-Thicke-groping! And it’s true; the wench was guilty of all that, and more.) Young Miley’s sex-dance had shocked even the hipster crowd at the VMA–which is a chronically dorky annual celebration of boring music videos, a show which is only enlivened–and ever so briefly–by the occasional hint of eroticism.
You might’ve thought a quasi-liberal site like The Huffington Post would invite at least one “sex-positive” feminist to defend young Miley, but no—there were long screeds devoted to all the different aspects of Cyrus’ sinfulness, and then there was an entire separate article detailing just how that ultimate arbiter of moral taste, Mika Brezinski, felt about it: “disgusting…disturbing…that girl doesn’t look healthy.” (To which several million teenage boys immediately replied: “define ‘healthy, Mika.”)
The Post’s own “lifestyle editor,” Lisa Belkin—perhaps afraid that her condescension wouldn’t be obvious enough unless she broke it down into tiny bits of condemnation—wrote, in an “open letter” to Cyrus:
“So, let’s start with what you might have learned this morning:
Twerking in plastic undies is not sexy, nor is massaging your nethers with a foam #1 finger.
We are all for feminism, and a woman’s right to enjoy her sexuality, but it is a misuse of feminism to define it as grinding on Robin Thicke amid dancers dressed like species non-specific plush animals. “
(Golly, Miz Belkin, thanx a heap for telling us what’s a good “use” of feminism and what’s not, ‘cause if’n you’re not right there to ‘splain it for us, how are we to know?)
Many critics condemed the young singer fior wearing “nude-colored” bra and panties. Leaving aside the Caucasian-o-centric nature of that phrase (would it still be “nude-colored” if Rihanna wore it?), the underwear was actually a kind of tangerine-y shade—and, probably much to the disappointment of those teenage boys, it was very easy to see where the “nude-colored” underwear ended and the nude-colored Cyrus-flesh began.
On a deeper level, Cyrus was being attacked for trashing her Disney image—as if she was the one who created the whole “Hanna Montana” persona years before —a paragon of impossible wholesomeness– –so that by expressing herself now, as sexual woman, she was somehow retroactively inviting her audience to fantasize about pedophilia.
But what no-one at the big corporate blogs, or on the news-TV-networks–or all the other stations of bourgeois media-power– seemed to consider was the one fact that seemed obvious to me from the moment she took the stage: she had created an act that was absolutely hilarious.
From her choice of supporting players–those backup dancers with ludicrously-padded butts swaying side-by-side with chintzy teddy-bears, in chintzy pastel colors, right out of some super-cheesy Japanese pop-art fantasia. ..to the way she kept thrusting her tongue out at oblique angles, like a gender-bending Michael Jordan celebrating the fact that all of life is a slam-dunk for her…to the way she used that big foam “Number One” forefinger—which is sold in ballparks everywhere to proclaim your favorite team’s superiority—as a soft-core comic sex-toy…The whole act was funny—as, I’m convinced, she intended it to be.
But that’s the REAL sin in the eyes of Moral America. A 20-year old woman so at ease with sex that she can find it both euphoric and amusing at the same time? Forbidden. “Inappropriate.” No way. Too upsetting.
As for the twerking itself, it’s been a common dance in the Caribbean for at least thirty years, as anyone who ever hung out for a night at a dancehall (or even a good corner bar) in Jamaica or Guadeloupe can tell you. And as wildly erotic as those West Indian dances can be, there’s always a lot of joyful laughter, too.
But when the Once-Pristine Daughter of White Protestant America dances erotically and laughs—well, as the neo-progressive media will tell you, it’s a sign that the apocalypse is well and truly upon us. So, having warned Miley Cyrus away from such wanton behavior, The Huffington Post can go back to running the kind of pieces they now specialize in, pieces that combine that ever-so-slightly-liberal perspective with a hint of the risque—like Rachel Maddow’s Seventeen Best Nipple-Slips.
John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org