Oh, sure. We’re pretty fond of each other, but the truth is you all are our favorite contributors to The Man Repeller. Really! We’ve formalized that fact with “Let’s Talk About It.” This weekly column is a forum for conversation, communication, and complete distraction from the jobs you’re supposed to be doing right now. So get involved. We promise we won’t tell your bosses.
MTV’s Video Music Awards aired on Sunday and today is Thursday, which means you’ve had three full days to talk about Miley Cyrus. If we know each other at all, I’d bet you haven’t just been talking about her. You’ve been obsessing. You’ve discussed her tongue and her hair and how foam fingers will never look quite the same to you again. Come Monday morning, some of you probably proclaimed that you didn’t want to talk about her at all. But some of you declared as much only to be summarily roped into a conversation about the wayward starlet anyway.
Those of you who’ve chimed in have dissected her with your friends, your co-workers, and the parents who want so badly to understand! On a personal note, I am now actively soliciting synonyms for the word, “twerk.”
Oh, sorry? What’s that? You say you’ve hit your head and are currently suffering temporary amnesia? Get it together! we’re going recap. Again.
As you may have gathered from even the most minimal interaction with the outside world this week, Miley Cyrus performed at this year’s VMAs. Wearing what began as a metallic, embellished leotard, but eventually morphed into a latex bikini, Cyrus began her two-song set with “We Can’t Stop”—the first single off of her forthcoming Bangerz album. She then joined Robin Thicke on stage for a rendition of “Blurred Lines.” In the course of these six and a half mesmerizing minutes, the industry’s resident enfant terrible mimed a variety of sex acts, grinded (ground?) on oversize stuffed bears, and generally tried very, very hard. Remember when Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” was considered unseemly? Those were the days.
Since prancing about in little more than a high-waisted thong, Cyrus has been a subject of near-universal scrutiny. Accordingly, we’ve called her slutty, shameless, fame-hungry, lost, motherless, raunchy, everything that’s wrong with America, everything that’s right with it, a kid, a whore, manipulative, talentless, brilliant, and likely mentally unhinged. But while the ass-slapping provocateur has captured our breathless attention, a certain striped-suit-wearing singer has largely escaped the controversy. Because, let’s be honest, how many of us have spent even a fraction of the past 72 hours analyzing Robin Thicke?
On Monday, my perfectly self-actualized older brother and I exchanged a flurry of emails to—what else?—chat about the previous evening’s awards. I found the performance profoundly unsexy. He termed it “horrible.” But after some back-and-forth, he directed me toward a short posting by Dr. Jill McDevitt—a sexologist who penned this:
If you think a woman in a tan vinyl bra and underwear, grabbing her crotch and grinding up on a dance partner is raunchy, trashy, and offensive but you don’t think her dance partner is raunchy, trashy, or offensive as he sings a song about “blurred” lines of consent and propagating rape culture, then you may want to reevaluate your acceptance of double standards and your belief in stereotypes about how men vs. women “should” and are “allowed” to behave.
Frankly, Dr. Jill puts it better than I ever could.
Why do we condemn Cyrus, but exonerate Thicke? Does “Blurred Lines” propagate rape culture, as McDevitt and others have argued? If so, does that fact stop you from enjoying the supposed “song of summer” all the same? Is there a difference between Thicke’s brand of “impropriety” and Cyrus’s? And if there is, is one “better” than the other?
You’ve done it before, but why not do it again? Let’s talk about it.