This is what happens when you spend too much time — which in this case would be 1 minute — pondering the significance of a fame-starved moron’s performance at an awards show.
But the shock that Cyrus was peddling wasn’t sex. It was all about race.
Cyrus has spent a lot of time recently toying with racial imagery. We’ve seen Cyrus twerking her way through the video for her big hit “We Can’t Stop,” professing her love for “hood music,” and claiming spiritual affinity with Lil’ Kim. Last night, as Cyrus stalked the stage, mugging and twerking, and paused to spank and simulate analingus upon the ass of a thickly set African-American backup dancer, her act tipped over into what we may as well just call racism: a minstrel show routine whose ghoulishness was heightened by Cyrus’s madcap charisma, and by the dark beauty of “We Can’t Stop” — by a good distance, the most powerful pop hit of 2013.
That’s giving way too much credit to Cyrus, the latest in a long line of privileged white kids to appropriate hip-hop culture, with cartoonish results. Equally laughable is the notion that she is responsible for “the most powerful pop hit of 2013.” (Perhaps Jody Rosen is actually a pen name for onetime Malcontent foil Duane Moody?)
Rosen concludes by warning, “A doctoral dissertation could (and will) be written on the racial, class, and gender dynamics of Cyrus’s shtick.” Paging Naomi Wolf.