Aug. 27th, 2013

pktechgirlbackup: (pktechgirl)
Ferret criticized Cyru's VMA performance as inferior to Britney Spears's or Madonna's because the older two appeared to be aware of and enjoying the audience's sexual response to them, and this gave them some vulnerability. That's bullshit, and especially disappointing from the person who wrote Dear Daughter, have good Sex*. Taking the cases I know the most about, Britney and Christina went sexual in a highly polished, pleasing, feminine way. They might want to shock, but they also want validation that they're shocking in the right way.

Compare the video or VMA performance of "We Can't Stop" with some videos on similar themes: Christina Aquilera's "Can't Hold Us Down", Pussycat Doll's "I Don't Need a Man", and Ke$ha's "Blah Blah Blah"

What do these have in common? They're all sung to men. They're an attempt to convince men of something. They're highly performative**. Whereas can't "We Can't Stop" seems to be sung to grown ups.

Also, Britney, Christina, and the Pussycat Dolls are extraordinarily conventionally attractive, feminine women. Ke$ha's affecting a trashed look, but still looks noticeably more feminine and conventionally attractive in her videos than she does in real life. I still feel bad about this, but my first thought when I saw 16 year old Miley Cyrus was "Oh, Disney's trying to tamp down on problems by getting an ugly one." Her hair cut is aggressively masculine. Her outfits are revealing but ugly as hell. Her dancing may lack all subtlety, but in a way that makes me feel better. Previous starlets were produced and scripted and managed to make sure they never made anyone feel more uncomfortable than they wanted to feel. The word I'm looking for is coy. Promising a lot sexually, but also prepared to shut it down and pretend it never happened at a moments notice. Cyrus genuinely looks like she's doing this because she thought it would be awesome. It comes off as aggressive and unartistic because she's 20 years old and subtlety takes a long time to master, but that's okay. It's not her job to tamp down on her sexuality because it makes other people uncomfortable.*** She can be sexual without being attractive

Look, a professional dancer agreed with me (although he probably wouldn't put it that way). Britney was an astonishing dancer. Miley is spazzing around like an idiot. And I kind of love her for tricking MTV into letting her do that on national television.

I do want to acknowledge the genuinely problematic racial elements in Cyrus's performances. Consciously or not she's associating herself with the Jezebel stereotype of insatiable black women. This is one of those really tough things where one group is being denied something and another is being forced to have it, and the more privileged side can end up seriously damaging the less privileged side as they attempt to change the system. See also: rich white women being denied sterilization they want because doctors believe they should have more babies, while poor and minority women are sterilized against their will because doctors believe they shouldn't. Both sides are being denied something they're entitled to, and rich white women need to be conscious that laws and norms they're advocating for could make things worse for poor black women. But it some ways that's another crime the system has committed against the rich white women, by shackling them such that their choices are suffer, fight for their rights and hurt someone else, or bear the exhausting weight of fighting for their rights without hurting poor black women.

This is mostly unrelated, but I do wish people would stop calling her performance twerking. Twerking is not a generic term for moving your ass, it's a really difficult, athletic dance style with a long history in African dance. In that same vein, the Harlem shake isn't a controlled epileptic fit, it's a really impressive dance style that is both extraordinarily fluid and yet tightly controlled. Start treating them with the respect they deserve

*Of course, he also created the open source boob project and named it open source boob project. He has some big fuck ups, but I admire his willingness to make and own them publicly.

**particularly atrocious in the case of "I Don't Need a Man." It's great that there are men who really enjoy watching women orgasm even if they didn't provide it, but in a world full of male entitlement it often becomes "prove to me you're experiencing pleasure" and I hate that.

***Which is of course not to say that other people need to participate in it or stick around to watch, but that they're not entitled to make her stop doing it with people who do want those things.


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