Miley Cyrus’s unfortunate legacy

The powers that be at Webster’s added twerk to the dictionary the other day and wordsmiths everywhere cried and threw up in their mouths a little. The addition came a day after Miley Cyrus demonstrated the meaning of the word on national television at the Video Music Awards—prancing and grinding herself into the dictionary. I would be thrilled at the prospect of instigating the addition of a word to the English language, but not in this instance.

I am honestly sickened that a young girl felt  she had to get up on stage and “twerk” in order to prove herself worth remembering. I read her comments several days after the event and she gushed  about how she and her “dance” partner were so excited just before they went on stage because they were “about to make history right now.”

Well, sweetie, I’m sorry to tell you this, but what you did? That isn’t real history. Real history is World War II or the fall of the Berlin Wall. It’s Anne Frank writing a diary or Abraham Lincoln standing in the middle of a war-ravaged town, delivering the Gettysburg Address full of hope and promise. That was epic. It had gravity and depth and it MEANT something to the people who heard it and it is still regarded as one of the greatest speeches in American history today.

“Twerking” in a beige bathing suit is not history. It’s not even new (albeit it might be new to Mr. Webster). It’s boring. And it’s been done again and again. Don’t think that any one of us couldn’t pop in to any movie or walk in to any dance club and see someone else exhibit a “twerk” or two, because we can. Miss Miley said it herself: “How many times have we seen this play out in pop music?”

More than I can count, I’m sad to say.

Sure, the next day the whole world was buzzing about her. There were millions of hits on the performance and many happy (and unhappy) people. Even the guy who invented the large foam fingers used for sports events, which Miss Miley repurposed to increase the lewdness of her routine, got in on the discussion saying that she “degraded an honourable icon” in using his invention for her own objectives. She certainly got her fifteen minutes of fame and, as far as I could tell, loved every minute of it.

But as we all know, today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper. It’s tragic, really, because in attempting to use her sexuality to shock the crowd in order to “make history (or rather, to be remembered), Miss Miley gave a performance that is being lost underneath all the other similar and utterly forgettable performances that we’ve seen in the last twenty-five years. A prayer or two might be warranted for her. That road isn’t one that usually ends well.

I will make no attempt to comment on Miss Miley’s upbringing, her father’s presence in her life, her self-esteem, or her view of femininity. I have no idea about any of that. What I do know is that her behaviour is par for the course in our day and age. I honestly didn’t understand why there was such an angry backlash against her after her little frolic across the stage. This is the world we live in—a world where sexuality is used to get what we want, need, or crave, whether that is love, appreciation, fame, fortune, or even a legacy. And while that’s sad and incredibly pitiable, we can’t get all hot and bothered by performances such as hers because for Miss Cyrus, that was just another day at the office.

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