Kiss My Sass: I Don’t Like the Way You Twerk It

Sophia Ottoni-Wilhelm, Opinions Editor

When Miley Cyrus took the stage at the recent MTV Video Music Awards, twerking away on the lap of R&B musician Robin Thicke, she made the whole world vomit a little as she proved just how far she’s come from her Disney days.

It didn’t come as too much of a surprise — we’ve all watched during the past two years as Miley has worked diligently to shed her tan, her curves and her wholesome Southern image. Who can blame her? The highlights were pretty hideous.

This summer things took a turn for the worse. In the music video of her hit song “We Can’t Stop,” she took a baseball bat to a piñata full of blunts, made out with a doll replica of herself and strutted her stuff in a fur coat while dragging around a stuffed ferret. Last week she spent more time in an Amsterdam “coffee shop” than I spent applying to Oberlin. Then came the VMA debacle, when an underwear-clad Miley bent over and twerked — popping her tiny millionaire-booty in a style of dance originating from a poverty-stricken neighborhood in New Orleans.

I want to make it clear that I respect Miley’s desire to reinvent her image. I do not respect the self-destructive ways she’s gone about it. She’s bringing up issues by embodying them, and that makes me uncomfortable, partly because I’m not sure if it’s intentional and partly because it’s downright sad.

In the recent video for her song “Wrecking Ball,” Miley demonstrates this point perfectly. It features her crying as she perches naked on top of a swinging — you guessed it — wrecking ball. Besides looking incredibly cold (Who in their right mind would choose to straddle metal?), the overall message being conveyed was one of utter sadness and disparity. What’s wrong, Miley? Did you realize that billions of people live on less than a dollar a day? Or that one percent of the bank bailout in 2008 could have fed the world’s hungry children for a decade? Don’t worry, these things make me sad, too.

In the interest of not unpacking every racial, gender and sociocultural issue she raises in her music and lifestyle, I’m going to stick with this simple point. The messages she’s sending the world — she’s sad (“Wrecking Ball”), and she wants to party (“We Can’t Stop”) — and the ways she goes about sending them are frankly embarrassing.

She has incredible wealth, people who care about her and so much media attention. The ways she uses these gifts is downright funny, sad and sometimes nauseating. She has sacrificed her humanity to become an object of art, an aesthetic being, and she isn’t even good at it.