Miley, we’ve been here before.
The tongue flicking, half-naked 20-year-old has fielded enough cultural misappropriation criticism this year to fulfill a We The People White House petition, but as the year falls into winter, our time in 2013 dwindling, so has the media’s interest in chastising the pop star — partly because we’d like to think she’s young and will soon realize the error in her ways and partly because spending too much time constructing essays on the VMA performance that fallaciously represented black culture or her newfound love for hip hop is feeding the Miley shock machine monster.
It’s what she wants. It’s what I’d like to refuse to give her.
But despite our exasperated sighs, it’s happening. A lot. And waiting for Miley to understand whats problematic about the racist nature of her performances or the ramifications of aligning her salaciousness with the sexuality of black women, or even her misappropriation of black sounds and culture is as productive as trying to get House Speaker John Boehner to support the Affordable Care Act.
It’s not going to happen.
[Insert much-needed conversation about her handlers and the hip-hop artists who have condoned Miley’s behavior as an authentic representation of their music]
It’s complex, yes, but even more glaring is the privilege that Miley embodies as a white female that allows her to overlook the consequences of her actions, not only to herself, but on society as a whole.
It’s the luxury of all luxuries. If a black teen were to pick up White Privilege in Barney’s…well…does that give you an idea? It wasn’t made for us. And because of that, Miley has been able to appropriate culture in the most irresponsible of ways and not carry the burden of what smacking the behind of a black female on stage, in a manner reminiscent of Sarah Baartman’s stripped sovereignty, could do to a society that already hyper-sexualizes black women.
But, I’m off topic. The point is, Miley is still at it. And her latest stunt is further confirming that, despite her declaration that everything she does is strategic and true to herself, she’s the worst kind of counterfeit.
She reeks it. Standing on the red carpet at the MTV European Music Awards in her reconstructed Biggie and Tupac t-shirt dress, the stench was unbearable. The new hip-hop Miley doesn’t know a thing about rap music, let alone the importance of rap juggernauts Shakur and Wallace. And moving the “hood fashion” statement she’s made that has yet again discerned the ratchet subset into the whole of black culture aside [insert eye-roll], her miseducation on what hip-hop is and her assertion of such is complete sacrilege.
Don’t be about it if you ain’t about it.
Want proof? In a 2009 interview, the artist formally known as Hannah Montana admitted that she had never heard a Jay Z song. Now, that’s not to say that she hasn’t since fingered through crates to find gems from Reasonable Doubt or The Blueprint to fuel her self-proclaimed “black sound.”
But it’s hard to believe that in four years time Miley has become an appreciator of rap music as a whole, not the ratchet division that she’s glamorized.
It’s unlikely that she’s dissected Jay Z’s “Can I Live” or even knows where the iconic sample comes from. Or, that she understands the cultural significance of Biggie’s “Juicy” or feels indebted to Tupac’s authentic and societally important conversations in “Brenda’s Got A Baby.”
Am I being too harsh? Maybe.
But when Miley aligns twerking, bumping base lines, getting high off purp and publicizing her affirming conversations with hip-hop tastemakers like Pharrell as hip-hop, is it far fetched that she has no clue what she’s talking about and who she is wearing?
Black people are not a monolith and neither is hip-hop. And if we’re going to argue that because hip-hop is not a monolith, therefore it can be expressed in many subsets, then let’s agree that Miley needs not to subscribe to a subset that she is unfamiliar with.
Like Biggie and Tupac. They’re simply off limits. And if we’re to be religious about it, because, hey, is real hip-hop not spiritual in a sense, wearing Tupac and Biggie’s faces on your ass with the phrase “stop the violence” scrolling across is both blasphemous and ironic.
Miley’s “pick-up, put-down” attitude when it comes to rap music and black culture is destructive. She might need to take her own advice.
Christina Coleman is the News and Politics Editor at GlobalGrind and a Howard University Alumna. Prior to this she was a science writer. That explains her NASA obsession. She crushes on Anthony Bourdain. Nothing explains that. Follow her on Twitter @ChrissyCole for all things news & politics. Oh. And afros.