By Jon Weidman


Whoa wait sorry, got carried away there. I sat down to write a piece about Miley Cyrus. You know, the girl who once played HANNAH MONTANA on that Disney show. Ring a bell? More recently she’s the one all over YouTube (and occasionally on stage with Juicy J) engaging in the newest Internet dance craze: twerking. But I got distracted by this splendiferous new song by Atlanta rap trio Migos, titled, er, “HANNAH MONTANA.”

Anyway, back to Miley Cyrus and this twerking thing. Music has always been a big part of the Miley package dating back to her Disney days. Her show was about a pop star, and co-starred her country singer dad Billy Ray. There was a lot of singing and a lot of soundtracks (9 total albums over a five year period!). But then she left the show, got caught smoking salvia (bleh), cut her hair short, and generally decided to become a grown-up child star badass without all of the DUIs and sunken eyes. She made a song with Snoop Dogg, put out a single with hip-hop producer du jour Mike WiLL Made It, and as mentioned started hanging out with Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa and the like.



The video for  “We Can’t Stop” came out. It’s racked up almost 136 million views as of the writing of this column. And while she had twerked on video and on stage before, now her twerking was major label-blessed and widely exposed. And now, we (Internet) have some problems with it.

You see twerking is a “black dance.” It has a lot heritage beyond just women with large asses moving them in suggestive manners. According to the twerk scholars at Bust Magazine, twerking “was influenced heavily by the New Orleans bounce music scene, and can be traced further back to traditional African dance forms.”

Ok, then.

And so now this very same Bust Magazine article goes on to accuse Miley of appropriating black culture by doing the dance in her video. They even go so far as paraphrase a VICE article that says Miley is “accessorizing with black people.” Except there is no such VICE article (hence the lack of a link). I work for VICE. I’m also black. My turn to weigh in.

Since when and why the fuck do we care who is doing a stupid dance move? Yes, she is “appropriating” the dance move. She has, as the Google definition states, “taken something for her own use, typically without the owner’s permission.” But just who is the owner in this situation?

Do black people own this dance move? Do I own this dance move? Do I get to say whether or not Miley Cyrus is allowed to use this dance move? IS THIS MY RESPONSIBILITY?

I don’t care. I couldn’t fucking care less if Miley Cyrus is using a dance move that my ancestry gives me exclusive rights to. I think she’s kind of hot. I’m totally fine watching her twerk. This backlash she’s received is the Internet version of ambulance chasing. There is a white girl who does not have a ton of black fans doing black stuff (we think), something must be wrong. Because when you need people to click your link, NOTHING is harmless. Looking’ at you Bust Magazine – well done on completely fabricating a Jay Z callout in your headline.

I’m sorry; I just don’t care about the color of one’s skin in the context of dance moves. And I think making a mountain out of this obscures a lot of bigger race issues that actually matter. (For example, aren’t we concerned with how visibly angry Mayor Bloomberg became when notified that his stop-and-frisk program would be forced to adopt safeguards against racial profiling and police brutality? Isn’t that alarming?).

Instead of getting all worked up, I’m just going to put back on that Migos song. Remember?


It’s very fitting that the next line of the chorus is “I got molly, I got white.” A nice demonstration of the common hip-hop practice of using white girls as reference for drugs. Sorry – “appropriating” white girls as reference for drugs.

Featured image courtesy of Moon Project

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