The Twerk Felt Around the World

by Paul Siciliano

I am hoping to delve into this further when I have more time, but I had to quickly discuss Miley Cyrus's love for twerking which became known nationally on last night's VMA Awards after Cyrus twerked, molested a form #1 finger, and dry humped Robin Thicke.   

Cyrus really lacks talent and is wealthy by being a Disney manufactured star.  I get the desire to break that image and usually starts break a wholesome image by being whoreish.  Cyrus has latched onto the twerking phenomenon.   


I don't want to claim that Cyrus has appropriated black culture because that is actually a racist claim.  Why do I believe that?  The dominant American culture (which is predominantly created and caters to white Americans) will appropriate, assimilate (call it what you want) elements from subcultures.  Unfortunately, the dominant culture will embrace cultural elements that fit into perceived stereotypes of groups.  It's not like Cyrus has brought twerking mainstream.  The dominant culture expects twerking from African Americans who they perceive as over-sexual and primitive.  The dance move itself is primitive and sexualized, and what is expected of African Americans.  Just calling twerking a part of black culture is racist.   Look at it this way, if that was Nicki Minaj, would the reaction have been the same.

The performance was also sexist and classist.  Why did people think we would accept such actions from Cyrus?  Whether true or not, Cyrus portrays white trash at times and people expect white trash to act black.  I know it sounds horrible, but these are the forces at work here.  This performance is more than just Hannah Montana gone bad, it really is a commentary on American cultures, our perceptions of subcultures and what is authentic.  There is way more I want to write but I need to sleep.   

Needless to say, twerking is not indicative of black culture, to the extent there is an all-encompassing culture, so there was nothing for Cyrus to appropriate.  Cyrus pretty much appropriated an accepted stereotype of African American woman and did so because she is perceived as white trash.  And the whole thing is just plain misogynist.