Two Addendums to Miley at the VMAs

Maybe you’ve read all you needed to read about young Miley; maybe you never needed a single word about her in the first place. I humbly offer up two codas to your intake: in the dumb-video category, you’ve got “Breaking Bad’s Hank and Marie watch the Video Music Awards,” which shouldn’t take too much of your brainpower to process. In the smart-response-you-were-waiting-to-read category, you’ve got Tressie McMillan Cottom on Miley’s backup dancers and the historical appropriation of black women’s bodies:

Fat non-normative black female bodies are kith and kin with historical caricatures of black women as work sites, production units, subjects of victimless sexual crimes, and embodied deviance. As I said in my analysis of hip-hop and country music cross-overs, playing the desirability of black female bodies as a “wink-wink” joke is a way of lifting up our deviant sexuality without lifting up black women as equally desirable to white women. Cyrus did not just have black women gyrating behind her. She had particularly rotund black women. She gleefully slaps the ass of one dancer like she intends to eat it on a cracker. She is playing a type of black female body as a joke to challenge her audience’s perceptions of herself while leaving their perceptions of black women’s bodies firmly intact. It’s a dance between performing sexual freedom and maintaining a hierarchy of female bodies from which white women benefit materially.

You’ll want to spend more time with that one, I think. []

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