Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All This Twerking's Got Me Smirking

In case you were wondering, that's former 'tween' star Miley Cyrus in the picture to the left. A few years ago, you and your kids knew her as the star of the "Hannah Montana" franchise from Disney Channel.

Those days are apparently long gone, at least as far as Miley herself is concerned. Last week in a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards that could perhaps be described as a sad attempt at being raunchy, she decided to come out of her pop queen shell and start twerking in public.

What the heck is "twerking", you might be asking? Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary Online, 'twerking' is "to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance."

First introduced in the early-90's, the word is of dubious origin, but likely a contraction of the words 'twist' and 'jerk', and was used in that decade in the lyrics of some hip-hop songs.

While I could never be accused of having been a prude to this point in my life, and can certainly appreciate a beautiful, fit, young woman exploring her sexuality and trying to bring a former kiddie image to a more mature one, something just struck me as being very wrong with that Miley Cyrus performance.


It struck me as desperate, not attractive or sexy in any way. It looked like someone trying way too hard to prove something that simply was not there in the first place. It looked for all the world like someone trying to be something they are not. In the aftermath, Miley has tried to compare herself to Madonna and Britney Spears, a pair of female artists who used their sexuality and provocative performances to gain fame.

Unfortunately for the now 20-year old Miley, her performance paled in comparison to even the 16-year old Britney Spears from "...Baby One More Time" way back in 1999, and was not even in the same conversation as the breakthrough performances of Madonna in her 20's during the 1980's. Madonna was a trailblazer, but Miley simply does not have what Britney did a decade ago: the talent to follow that trail.

Miley Cyrus had a chance to be a huge star, had she gone in the opposite direction than she has apparently chosen. Had she left the tough-girl, piercing, hard-edged performances to P!nk, the dance-pop sexiness to Britney, and simply never even compared herself at all to the iconic Madonna, she could have built off her Disney image to a successful career.

I could be wrong, but I think the display of twerking put on by Miley Cyrus at the VMA's last week is going to have exactly the opposite long term effect than she hoped it would. She is turning off the large audience she had built for years, and not turning on any new fans with this new image. Somebody (daddy Billy Ray?) needs to talk some sense into her quickly.

Beyond Miley, it seems that something needs to change in the music industry in general. I would personally love to see a return to artists being, well, artists rather than stripper wannabes. Do these "singers" have the chops? Can they even actually sing at all? The industry is going to keep selling this junk if we're going to keep buying it. From now on, for me, it's 'No Sale'.

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