My initial reaction was devious glee, I wanted to rub my hands together like one of those old time villains with a curly moustache tieing a hapless maiden to the railroad tracks. The headline wrote itself: “Miley Cyrus Spanked For Hipster Racism” and I figured this would be an easy one-off. This had all the right elements for a Hipster Racist story. Hipsters denouncing hipster racism, leftie jargon about “privileged white hipsters appropriating the cultural capital of people of color,” so easy to parody it’s hard not to, and plenty of opportunities to throw in some spanking jokes.
I first heard about Miley Cyrus a few years ago from my little cousin who was around 12 at the time. I asked her who her favorite singer was, and she said Hannah Montana, then proceeded to tell me a confusing tale about a TV show where a girl has a normal life and goes to school but magically turns into a pop singer at night. Or something like that. A few summers ago her song, “Party in the USA” was all over the radio, inspiring Weird Al Yankovic’s hilarious parody, “Party in the CIA.”
As bubblegum pop, “Party in the USA” is catchy as hell, and I mean that in a completely unironic way. Part of the whole Miley Cyrus schtick was the fuzzy border between Cyrus herself and the various characters she played, since her first TV show. The lyrics for “Party in the USA” are no different. Cyrus had just turned 18, an adult, no longer under the legal authority of her parents. It’s easy to read the song as referencing her “real life” at the time, a coming of age story for the modern American gal.
I hopped off the plane at L.A.X with a dream and my cardigan Welcome to the land of Fame Excess (Whoa), am I gonna fit in? Jumped in the cab here I am for the first time Look to my right and I see the Hollywood sign This is all so crazy, everybody seems so famous Get to the club in my taxi cab everybody's looking at me now Like who's that chick that's rocking kicks? She gotta be from out of town So hard with my girls not around me It's definitely not a Nashville party Cause all I see are stilettos, I guess I never got the memo My tummy's turning and I'm feeling kinda home sick Too much pressure and I'm nervous That's when the D.J dropped my favorite tune And a Britney song was on And the Britney song was on, and the Britney song was on So I put my hands up they're playing my song The butterflies fly away Nodding my head like Yeah Moving my hips like Yeah I got my hands up they're playing my song I know I'm gonna be okay It's a party in the U.S.A
So I’m reading about how Miley Cyrus’ new video is hipster racism because it’s appropriating ghetto black culture and using black people as props. She actually sings “homegirls here with the big butts” and “twerks” in the video. She even wears a “grill.” Her “look,” the haircut, the outfits, the makeup, it could be described as “mudshark bulldyke.” Essentially, a minstrel show. Instead of painting your face with bootblack and giving parody political speeches full of malapropisms, you wear a Trayvon hoodie and make gang signs. So I go to youtube, watch the video, and somewhere between the initial feeling of disappointment and then growing unease, I resigned myself to the reality. It looks like I’d be writing about the CIA again.
The song is called “We Can’t Stop” (the subtitle “But We Wish You Would” is merely implied) and the lyrics are typical sexualized teenage rebellion and defiance:
Red cups and sweaty bodies everywhere Hands in the air like we don't care Cause we came to have so much fun now Got somebody here might get some now This is our house This is our rules It's our party we can do what we want It's our party we can say what we want It's our body we can love who we want We can kiss who we want We can live how we want To my homegirls here with the big butts Shaking it like we at a strip club Remember only God can judge us Forget the haters cause somebody loves ya
Before reading further, watch the video. What’s your initial reaction? What are you seeing? What is the narrative?
All my racist readers will probably think “it’s promoting miscegenation,” the traditional religious types maybe, “it’s promoting degenerate sexuality.” The feminists (hi, gals, I know you’re reading) probably something about the objectification of women and women reduced to objects of the male gaze.
Well take your eyes off of Miley’s ass for a moment. Did you notice any of this?
The opening has Cyrus cutting off what looks to be a penal monitoring ankle bracelet. There’s a scene of a black man eating a money sandwhich and a black man inserting things between the teeth of a human skull, which is later crushed by a shoe. Scenes of Cyrus dancing with what looks to be a black transvestite, whom she spanks, and is spanked by.
There’s a scene of a woman at a kitchen counter cutting off her own fingers and blood gushing out. Later she’s kneeling at the counter, mouth level, the knife and the severed fingers in a pool of blood. There’s a recurring scene with dancers dressed in large teddy bear outfits. A scene with a circle of sheep, wearing sunglasses, looking into mirrors. Baby lambs being carried and stuffed game being dragged along the floor. Cyrus breaks an empty pinata with a baseball bat. A crowd of young women and young men get down on all fours scrambling to pick up “candy” from off of the floor.
That’s a lot of unambiguously violent and bizarre imagery for a pop song about a night out dancing at a club! Why would the filmmakers craft such a video for a Miley Cyrus song?
Believe it or not, to answer that question, you sort of have to go to some spooky places, and a long way back in US history. I figure Birmingham, Alabama, 1916 is a good place to start. Only July 16th of that year, a presumably typical Southern woman married to a doctor gave birth to a baby boy. This boy would grow up to be a very interesting man.
Well she took me by the hand I could see she was a fiery one Her legs ran all the way Up to heaven and past Avalon Tell me somethin' girl, what it is you have in store She said come with me now On the Devil's Dance Floor Flogging Molly - Devil's Dance Floor
To be continued.
- CIA Will Now Openly Propagandize Americans (pakalertpress.com)
- Kennedy and US Foreign Policy during the Cold War (imhowarth.wordpress.com)
- Ex ISI Cheif Says Foreign NGOs Work as CIA’s agents (themuslimrevolution.wordpress.com)
- Stealing, Lying, Killing in the name of Freedom. (drakeequation.wordpress.com)
- Dissecting the Politically Charged Subtext of Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” Video (blogs.villagevoice.com)
- If Washington, D.C. was a car… (corythornton.wordpress.com)
- Lawmakers of both parties voice doubts about NSA surveillance programs (sparkslinux.wordpress.com)