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August 27, 2013

Of Course: Miley Cyrus' Public Circle-Twerk Was Also Super-Racist You Guys


And then there is this bitter racialist.

1) Macklemore won best hip hop music video for his popular single ‘Can’t Hold Us’ over Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky among others. He also won best song with a social message for ‘Same Love’, a ballad in support of same-sex marriage that reflects on the relationship between his queer uncles. And yes, while ‘Same Love’ is beautiful, it has received attention and sold albums mainly because Macklemore is a white dude. Many young, queer women who are artists of color—like Angel Haze and Azealia Banks—have stepped into the spotlight over the past couple years. It’s difficult to shine when you’re in always in the white, heterosexual man’s shadow.

2) Miley Cyrus’s minstrel show ‘Can’t Stop’ filled the room with the sounds and sights of the cultural appropriation of working class Black culture. Her music video, which has been criticized for using Black women’s bodies (her backup dancers) as accessories for white profit by major culture blogs on the internet, proves once again that she needs a racial justice consultant. She finished her on-stage performance by triggering me (and from the looks of it, the Smith family) by “dancing” with rape anthemist, Robin Thicke.

3) Justin Timberlake, who has been busy whitewashing R&B for over a decade, walked away from the VMAs with the Michael Jackson Vanguard Video Award as well as the top honor of the evening...

So, it's racist if Black People Don't Win at the VMAs. And also, it appears black people have some degree of ownership over R&B, such that anyone white who works in that medium is "whitewashing" it and stealing from the black man.

People shouldn't think this way, but they do. That's what makes them racist. They have little reason for valuing themselves apart from their race, and therefore they view everything in terms of Stuff My Race Made, rather than Things I Myself Made, which is of course what actually matters.

It is strange and horrifying to see that those who are the most stridently "anti-racist" are in fact those most infected with racism. "This belongs to our tribe. We, The Collective Based Upon Our Slightly-More-Similar DNA, have collective ownership rights to this."

Noah Rothman found another example of this idiocy at Vulture magazine, perpetrated by some no-account named Jody Rosen.

“[T]he shock that Cyrus was peddling wasn’t sex. It was all about race,” Rosen wrote, priming his readers for maximum shock.

“Cyrus has spent a lot of time recently toying with racial imagery,” he adds, revealing the disturbing fact that he sees racial imagery everywhere.

“Cyrus twerking her way through the video for her big hit ‘We Can’t Stop,’ professing her love for ‘hood music,’ and claiming spiritual affinity with Lil’ Kim,” Rosen continues. “Last night, as Cyrus stalked the stage, mugging and twerking, and paused to spank and simulate analingus upon the ass of a thickly set African-American backup dancer.”

It's interesting that she (or he, I don't know) is fixated on the racial angle and overlooking the somewhat more present angle of "Lesbian Analingus Pantomime for Tweeners." Oh and by the way, it was performed on a bear.

But of course no judgments on that.

If you’re keeping score, Cyrus is “toying with racial imagery” by virtue of her being a fan of and collaborating with African-American artists and by performing hyper-sexualized dancing with one of her black backup dancers. But this workmanlike presentation of damming evidence continues:

“Her act tipped over into what we may as well just call racism: a minstrel show routine whose ghoulishness was heightened by Cyrus’s madcap charisma, and by the dark beauty of “We Can’t Stop” — by a good distance, the most powerful pop hit of 2013,” Rosen adds.

By the way I've never heard that song. I'm just saying this so those of you thinking "I've never heard that song" know that you're not alone.

Rothman analyzes this through a prism similar to one I've suggested, the notion of the tribal shibboleth, the exchange of passwords and countersigns indicating allegiance to a tribe or cult.

And you can read that take at the link. However, it occurs to me that another useful analogy is to the idea of connoisseurship. These three sad mugs are all connoisseurs of Racism You Guys..

What is the point of connoisseurship? Well, as a primary matter, to develop a refined, cultured, and sensitive palate for detecting the most subtle effects of a thing. The wine connoisseur trains himself to pick out "smoky notes" and "hints of blackberry" and wines that profited from "good ash in the soil."

Of course connoisseurship is not restricted to the physical sense of taste; art connoisseurs are fond of saying things like "It's the colors that aren't present that really stand out!"

And connoisseurs of music are given to saying things as "What wonderful silences are in this piece, where you can simply enjoy the room's tone, the vibrations and echoes in the walls themselves."

The connoisseur is trained to sense things that no one else can sense, or, at least, no one but an elite cadre of dedicated Detectors of the Subtle and Sublime.

The secondary value of connoisseurship is, of course, impressing other connoisseurs, intimidating non-connoisseurs, and, by these effects, gaining a Social Advantage which maximizes one's chances for financial and sexual success.

I actually think the secondary value is really the primary one but let's be generous and just say it's a nice unintended consequence.

Now maybe I was goofing on connoisseurship a little bit there, but I have to admit, I'd like to pick up that kind of skill. So long as it does not take a great deal of time and effort, I mean.

But of course it would take that. One can fake these things, as one can fake most things, but there's nothing more embarrassing than a fake connoisseur outed as a poser.

I am suggesting, of course, that people of little talent and little liking of hard work and training have created a new connoisseurship, a connoisseurship rather easily achieved, requiring, as it does, so very little practice and so very little reading; they have created a connoisseurship of Racism, savoring (or so they say) each note so delicate as to be imperceptible to the proletarians whose sense are too unrefined to detect anything but the boldest, most obvious flavors.

And by demonstrating their connoisseurship of racism, they gain a social advantage, that of impressing the other would-be racist connoisseurs, and the various stooges and goons stupid enough to be impressed by this shabby parlor trick.

And, as with any fake connoisseur, as with any bluffer, they gain the most when they make the most ludicrous claims: "I can virtually taste the post-war global depression in this wine; there's a character in the sweat of the grape-stompers that imparts to it a sadness that is almost transcendent."

For connoisseurs, noting that a wine has a chocolate aftertaste is rather elementary and crude. No, to really impress people -- or to really bluff -- you have to really commit to it and claim that your tastes are so refined that they can perceive flavors which exist only on an atomic level:

"Mmm.. those d-orbital electrons are really a kick, aren't they? The complexity of flavors he's managed to achieve while working within the confines of just a few electron states is simply magnificent."

And so it is with the Connoisseurs of Racism.

By Jove I Think He's Got It! @empireofjeff is now expert in the New Connoisseurship:

The peanut was invented by George Washington Carver, a known black man.

I go to the store these days, and what do I see? Cans of Planter's peanuts. You know where Planters do their business?


On plantations.

When I pop the top on that can of peanuts, that hiss of air sounds to me like the sharp intake of breath made by an enslaved black, as he clings to the whipping post and bears down on the pain the lash inflicts on his tortured flesh; rebelling in the only way he knows how - by denying his cruel overseer the music of his screams.



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posted by Ace at 12:55 PM

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