Please don't let the VMAs turn us all into jerks

Please don't let the VMAs turn us all into jerks

I don’t watch MTV because I don’t like seeing people be exploited for being sexual, poor, stupid, drunk, white, black, gay, etc. etc. etc., which is all MTV does. There is no music in Music Television with the exception of the VMAs where kids vote about which video that they saw on YouTube is better. So, I am always surprised by the vitriol that accompanies every year’s VMAs. It’s almost like the producers try to PLAN some amount of controversy. But that would be farfetched, wouldn’t it? (No.)

The way the internet has reacted to Miley Cyrus’ performance (which was, with the exception of her twerking all over Robin Thicke, a recreation of her music video, like all VMA performances are. Get it? Video Music Awards? Video? Performances stay true to their video?) is on one hand commendable, everyone getting riled up over social issues as diverse and ranging as slut shaming, cultural appropriation, decency, female misogyny, racism, and more. On the other hand, it’s pretty fucking lame considering the fact that 1. All of these articles and blog posts and tweets are ad hominem attacks on someone who has very little artistic control, and 2. Because social commentary being squeezed through the lens of an insignificant event while openly attempting to destroy someone’s career is pathetic.

We’re talking about writing. Not writing fiction, not writing memoir or creative non-fiction. We’re talking about how our writing, when we write about current events and the society around us, is too important to be throwing around so much shit.

To put it another way, Miley Cyrus is caught between her contractual obligations and a sea of angry people with keyboards who will pick apart her performance and find a way to be offended by it. Literally everyone is doing it. Jezebel, who I never EVER disagree with (to understand the sarcasm click here) has done everything but burn down Miley’s house for setting back women, black women, and twerking back with her sexist, objectifying, racist performance. Rush Limbaugh was confused, disgusted, probably a little turned on but without really understanding what that feeling was because his brain is mush from so many pills… where was I? Oh yeah. So when conservative douche Limbaugh and feminist soap box Jezebel are both mad about the same performance, you can bet there is something wrong with the situation.

And the rest of the world, throwing out article after article with two dollar words, picking apart the rotting corpse of a bad performance while calling it X, Y, or Z, it’s a deluge of mediocrity in a savage attempt to garner more hits. It was all anyone is talking about, so why not latch on to the teet of controversy and suck away? (Is that exactly what I am doing here? Yes.) We build our careers on the words we write, and we’ve started to be careless about how we use them.

Was the Miley Cyrus performance filled with things to be insulted or looked at as a slight to any number of groups? Sure. Is it her fault? No. Blame the network, blame the choreographer, blame the fact that we still watch the VMAs which boil down to a bunch of rich people getting an astronaut statue that doesn’t mean anything anyway, since when was the last time that astronaut commercial/title screen even SHOW on MTV? Because the more we get into the idea that Cyrus is the devil because of how she danced, the worse we all look.

There are a lot of things I want to bring up, but am reticent to, because one more voice in the choir isn’t going to make the song better. But is cultural appropriation what is driving racism? Should all aspects of another culture be stricken from use by anyone else? Is the open flow of influence and ideas cut off once race is a factor (and therefore I, a Latino, be forbidden from enjoying golf, tennis, or jogging to Starbucks and other white people cultural things? Chill out. Some of my best friends are white)? How can the same place talk about slut shaming and then talk about how sexualized Miley’s performance can be? Is Miley allowed to be hyper sexual towards Robin Thicke but not towards her backup dancers (because, as we know, back up dancers have never been sexualized and objectified by their Star)? And was anyone really surprised by this performance, considering the video that has been out for a while now?

And does it strike anyone else as odd that the majority of people talking about cultural appropriation are white?

Our words are the tools that we have to show the world around us. Our words are our weapons in a fight for a better future. The battles that we pick to fight with them shape our world for better or for worse. When we get caught up on squeezing ever last bit of controversy out of a minor event, we get caught on a loop of meaningless one-ups and contrarian opinions. When we write, shouldn’t we write things that are going to help us instead of things that are going to help us get hits?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go unplug my TV.

Filed under: Opinion

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