I assume that one day there will be internet historicists – online archaeologists who’ll dig through the dusty of corners of the interwebs and uncover ancient culture, old-fashioned ideals and all kinds of kitsch. Ugh, now that prediction’s documented too – there’s nothing more cringy than bad predictions of what “the future” will look like! (See below.)
But I fear that such an online explorer will be woefully unprepared to critique some of the biggest events of 2013. Perhaps none more so than the week a young woman’s “dance performance” blew up Googleland and Twitterverse in a chorus of horrified, amused, judgmental and impressed reactions. I feel it’s only my duty as a citizen of the online sphere to provide some guidance to this out-of-time sojourner.
Welcome to the internet, circa 2013. Yes, it’s a strange place. I felt prompted to provide you with some guidance as you uncover one of the more bizarre events from this time.
Perhaps by now you’ve watched the infamous incident on archival footage? Young lady, lots of tongue gestures, not a lot of clothes. And twerking.
Helpfully, the Oxford Dictionary has defined the word for your future reference purposes. For all I know, twerking is an old-fashioned and common form of dance in your time. The kind of thing you’d teach kids on summer camps, along with line dancing and an awkward waltz.
I’m sure you’ll also stumble across the How to Twerk” instructional clips, countless “memes”, and of course a veritable treasure trove of opinion pieces, from all angles. Some pointing out that twerking was not invented by Miley. Others reminding us of the race and cultural implications of her actions. Still more taking offence at her actions. Then the ones cheering her on as a paragon of feminine empowerment. Many of these are valid pieces, and a thoughtful social commentary on the times. A few are pure rants. Some will contain spelling mistakes.
Please believe me when I say I do not envy your task in sifting through it all. You have my admiration.
My opinion? I suppose it’s partly one of surprise. Surprise that we were surprised by “What Miley Did”. I’ve grown up in a culture torn by several vastly different views on what it means to be a woman. I live in a time where we decry the abuses of women in cultures where they are oppressed, repressed and degraded. Yet I watch privileged women sell their bodies and minds everyday for the sake of attention and celebrity. I live in a time where it’s an expression of feminine strength to take off most of your clothes and make doe-eyes at a camera, but where we also try and tell young women that they are precious and capable aside from their physical attributes. I live in a time that bombards me every day with images of how I should look, but a mother who taught me that my beauty came from how I thought and how I treated others.
I live in a time where Miley’s contemporaries can sing “When you’re ready come and get it”, but when Miley actually gives it to us… well! Then we’re shocked and headlines emerge. If we persist in confusing young women with warped messages of what they “should” be to fit certain stereotypes, then we can hardly be taken aback when they live up to those expectations.
My apologies if that left you more confused than enlightened. As I said, it’s a scary web out there. I wish you all the best in your continued quest to make sense of this crazy time, future online explorer. May your journey to the centre of the internet be a thrilling and wondrous ride.
Also, sorry about all the cats.
I have now written about Miley Cyrus. I must be a real blogger. Your thoughts? (If you’re not over the whole thing already?) How responsible are we for the way young female performers act? What will be the 3013 equivalent of lolcats (or shall their feline domination of the interwebs become an empire for the ages)? PS: Thanks to the Daily Post for letting me get this off my chest.