Highly esteemed sociological researcher and cultural anthropologist Rush Limbaugh has weighed in on Miley Cyrus’ bizarre MTV VMA performance, calling it “pure, unadulterated rot.”
Referring to her former life as Disney character Hannah Montana, Limbaugh — a man who thinks Sandra Fluke should make sex tapes — said that “it was just this side of on-stage pornography.”
Indeed, Cyrus aimed to shock the audience, and, with aid of a foam finger, a twerking routine and lots of flashing tongue, she overwhelmingly succeeded. But as usual, Limbaugh misses the point with the backlash against Cyrus: that her “Minstrel Show,” as Jody Rosen explains in Vulture, was couched in racism:
Cyrus’s twerk act gives minstrelsy a postmodern careerist spin. Cyrus is annexing working-class black “ratchet” culture, the potent sexual symbolism of black female bodies, to the cause of her reinvention: her transformation from squeaky-clean Disney-pop poster girl to grown-up hipster-provocateur. (Want to wipe away the sickly-sweet scent of the Magic Kingdom? Go slumming in a black strip club.) Cyrus may indeed feel a cosmic connection to Lil’ Kim and the music of “the hood.” But the reason that these affinities are coming out now, at the VMAs and elsewhere, is because it’s good for business.
Cyrus has every right to release herself from the virginal imagery associated with her “previous life,” so to speak. But a very backward attempt to imitate Lil Kim is probably not the best way to do it.