Miley Cyrus: Bellwether of Cultural Progress?

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Miley Cyrus’s gyrations on the Video Music Awards are hardly new. In fact, Miley is getting whupped by the black community for a white performer once more taking a cultural artifact from the black experience.

Some have gone so far as to call Miley racist for taking on-stage twerking into the white mainstream. You probably did not know that this kind of thing is a staple of hip-hop videos; you could even call it “old-school.”

What is twerking? I had to look it up myself. It’s that thing where a woman dancer bends over and jams her derrière into the privates of a male dancer and then grinds. Twerking.

And did you even know that Miley Cyrus had a six-inch tongue? A tongue like a weapon she has, one that she flapped all over the stage with the standard Satanic leer. She even had little pigtails like tiny horns.

She also wielded a foam finger, the kind you see at football games, and used it to pleasure herself and her “singing” partner Robin Thicke who has a massive hit song out this summer called “Blurred Lines” with a video of cavorting naked barely post-teen girls.

Keep in mind that Miley is 20 and Thicke is 37. In case you don’t know, Robin Thicke is the son of plain vanilla entertainer Alan Thicke. Robin Thicke’s mother said she “could never unsee” the Miley spectacle. None of us can.

The spectacle was enough to give Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC’s Morning Joe an aneurism. I have never seen Mika so exorcised. She’s calling for boycotts and firings of the twerps at MTV who let this happen. And she wants Miley to get psychiatric help.

She’s not the only one. They say the celebs in the audience were shocked, too. Rihanna looked bored but the thing about Rihanna is she does much the same thing as Miley, even more so. She was probably cranky that racist Miley had invaded her turf.

Will Smith and his family were caught with shocked looks on their faces but their handlers have backed way off and said their priceless expressions were a combination of nose scratches and yawns and after all their expressions were from watching the rather tame (this year) Lady Gaga and not Miley.

During the same news cycle there was another spectacle, far worse, happening in a rural Illinois field.  Have you ever heard of Insane Clown Posse? They are a white rap-metal band, or whatever, that paints their faces with lurid clown make-up. They have quite a following that each year gathers for something called The Gathering of Juggalos. Juggalos is the name the band’s followers call themselves. This was the 13th year the Juggalos have met.

Miley Cyrus has nothing on these girls and guys.

There is a picture of a man without any arms, Satan make-up, with a heavy bucket suspended from a hole in his lip. The Juggalos are cheering. There are photographs of young girls all lined up and mostly naked though some have on stripper and bondage regalia. There is something called the “drug bridge” where all manor of pills are purchased, though this year it was at least temporarily closed when a young Juggalo over-dosed and died.

Perhaps the most famous picture from this year’s Gathering, though, is of a sick young man who was sent to the Gathering by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Seems he’s a big Insane Clown Posse fan and he and his family from rural Vermont have never been to a concert of any kind. There is a picture of him getting a naked lap dance by a lithe young teenager. The Riverfront Times of St. Louis reports that she just happened by, had heard the sick boy was there, and simply dropped her clothes and twerked. Finished—without a word—she left.

Knowing these stories I feel like Lazarus come from the dead, come back to tell you all. Did Lazarus need a shower?

Look at the progress we have made.

Fifty-seven years ago Ed Sullivan shot Elvis from the waist up so as not to offend middle class sensibilities with his pelvic gyrations. A few years later, Sullivan made the Rolling Stones change their lyrics from “Let’s spend the night together” to “Let’s spend some time together.” Forty-four years ago Midnight Cowboy got an X rating. Have you seen Midnight Cowboy lately? It’s the story of a male prostitute and his homeless buddy. It hardly showed anything truly offensive but it got an X in 1969! It would hardly get an R today, maybe even PG-13.

Are we better off morally today than we were in 1956 or even 1969?

At the same time as the Miley Cyrus and the Juggaloe story, another girl made the news.  An Irish girl—now known as the Slane Girl—was photographed performing sex acts on a triumphant-arms-raised-drunken-punk at a concert by white rapper Eminem. Her act has gone viral. Pictures. Video. Everything.

She now claims her drink was spiked. Her defenders are outraged that anyone would criticize her and wonder why the boy has not come under the same withering attack. They say her critics are trying to “shame” her. Oh no, not shame.

It is hard to say what is driving her critics. They most likely come from her social caste—sadly adrift, probably drug-addled, culturally and morally bereft. Still, perhaps there is a vestigial aversion to what she did. Maybe way down deep they can make moral judgments, and not only that, they can pronounce them, too. Maybe.

Maybe after the rat-a-tat-tat news cycle of Miley Cyrus, the Juggalos, and the Slane Girl comes a moral resurgence. I mean even Mika Brzezinski’s upset. It’s a start.

(Photo credit: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Austin Ruse

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Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis Magazine. He is the author, most recently, of No Finer Time to be a Faithful Catholic (Sophia Institute Press, 2021).

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