OMG! Miley Cyrus is Racist!!

I should start by stating that Miley Cyrus is not racist. This is just the latest moron meme in a series of increasingly moronic attacks on Cyrus from the Guardianista ex-liberal tendency. Cyrus isn’t the real target, but she has become a convenient scapegoat. The real target is black music and dance.

I blogged a couple of months ago on the Guardian’s opening shot in this story, in which Hadley “I Have Black Friends” Freeman launched an attack on Cyrus for her “racist” twerking episode at the VMAs. The claim was that Cyrus was racist. Because – wait for it – she’s white and had black backing dancers.

Since then, the Guardian, in true bullying tabloid fashion, has wheeled out one has-been after another to condemn Miley, or to patronise her. Yesterday, they outdid themselves, producing 73 year-old Christian singer Cliff Richard to express the hope that Cyrus “grows out of it”. If you’re starting to wonder where the line is between the “quality, liberal” Guardian and the “gutter, right-wing” Daily Mail, you’re not alone.

Perhaps realising that a parade of white faces screaming RACIST! at Cyrus was looking a little strange, the Guardian recently found a black person to do the same thing. Ikamara Larasi helpfully pointed out that she is a black woman, and she doesn’t twerk, but complains (in straw-man style) that she thinks people expect her to twerk, because she’s the same colour as Rihanna.

Don’t worry Ikamara, I don’t expect you to twerk. You see, Rihanna is a stunningly talented international music artist. And you’re not. Nor do I expect you to play tennis like Serena Williams, or be the First Lady like Michelle Obama. I don’t expect you to read the news like Moira Stuart, nor do I expect you to write incredible, moving novels like Toni Morrison. You see, while that kind of stereotyping does still exist, it’s fading fast, and it mostly exists among people like your Oxbridge-educated, Home Counties-raised, Guardian journalist chums. Most of us are perfectly aware that not all black women are amazing singers and dancers like Rihanna, and we’re happy to accept that situation. In fact, the only people I can see stereotyping anybody are you and your ignorant “lynch Miley” mates, who think that the average person is too stupid to tell the difference between you and Alexandra Burke.

Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with race. It is a continuation of the “ban all sex, help, we’re all being sexualised!” campaign which some individuals at the Guardian have been nurturing for years, and now appears to have reached fever pitch. Those who have been paying attention will know that much of the noise comes from a small group of individuals: Kat Banyard of UK Feminista, Julia Long of Object (who, together, are competing to be today’s Mary Whitehouse) and a small group of Guardian journalists who have somehow managed to turn a quality newspaper into the Object house journal. Ikamara Larasi, who stuck the latest knife in Miley’s back, comes from a “black feminist” group called Imkaan, which appears to be (like Lose The Lads’ Mags) another group linked to Object, and thus can claim Object privileges, including Guardian column inches.

Sadly, Larasi’s intervention seems to have confused people who might have been more skeptical had a white woman penned such obvious nonsense. On Twitter, I was told (by a white woman) that I, as a white man, should pay attention when a black woman writes about race. Because, of course, ALL black people believe the same thing and Larasi is black, so is therefore a spokesperson for black people (or “people of colour” as she tweeted… I kid you not). I wonder what would happen when such a person encounters two black women with opposing views. Would her head explode? A (black) friend of mine commented, “Miley isn’t the first. Might as well burn Madonna at the stake for having black and gay dancers then…”

Another tweeter posted a link to a page showcasing The 9 Most Racist Miley Cyrus Moments, which I still can’t tell is a parody or not. Gems from this page include she wants her new album to have a “black sound” (OMG Amy Winehouse, Joe Cocker and Elvis were RACISTS!) and she pretended to perform analingus on a black backing dancer (only pretended? Damn… I’d pay good money to see that).

Miley is playing the morality brigade perfectly (this week, she allegedly smoked weed on stage in Amsterdam, and was met with fake shock from the coke-snorting journalistic fraternity), and I applaud her. When society becomes as pathetically (small-c) conservative as it has become again today, the best response is to shock the fuck out of it. That’s why the Sex Pistols topped the charts in 1977 with God Save The Queen (despite it being banned), and the Prodigy’s wonderful Smack My Bitch Up (watch it!) video won awards 20 years later (despite it also being banned).

Rather than scream at racism-that-isn’t-racism and sexism-that-isn’t-sexism we should take aim at bullying-that-is-truly-bullying. The moronic British media loves to destroy people, especially young women. Doubtless Guardian and Mail journos alike are salivating in anticipation at the moment Miley appears drunk in public, has a messy break-up, or is rumoured to have a drug problem. I’ve cancelled my Guardian app subscription, and will be investing the savings in Miley’s latest album. Why don’t you do the same?

26 thoughts on “OMG! Miley Cyrus is Racist!!”

  1. I’m not a Cyrus fan (or indeed a pop music fan), so i’ll pass on the album, thanks. I do wonder whether Cyrus is “rebelling” of her own volition or whether it’s at her record company’s urging. Either way it’s doing wonders for column inches (and so, presumably, sales of what is, frankly, very ordinary “product”). Yep, sorry, this looks like an old fashioned publicity stunt to me. And if the Guardianistas and the Mail Online want to join in the hype in their stereotyped ways, so be it. Both have always bullied and misunderstood the young, and why would they stop now?

    If I’m right I only hope the current publicity drive doesn’t end up with Cyrus in rehab in a couple of years (only partly because I really can’t cope with another tearful “confessional” to Piers f***ing Morgan!).

    The “theory” that Cyrus is racist could be applied to virtually any rock or pop band of the last 50 years onwards. The Rolling Stones were accused (with some justification) of stealing tunes from old bluesmen (they did eventually make sure they were properly paid, which is more than their recording companies ever did). I saw Roger Waters (ex Pink Floyd) performing with black backing singers: does that make him racist? Abe Foxman would say yes (because of Waters’ backing for a cultural boycott of Israel), but I’m not sure Abe is a reliable guide on antisemitism.

    1. This is the comment I would have written if I had the ability. As an adjunct to the main article it adds meaning.

      I remember Eminem “taking ecstasy” during a live performance in the UK – it was a piece of paper apparently – and this garnering headlines and free publicity.

      My “issues” with the whole Cyrus thing is that quality singer/songwriters don’t get a look in any more – if they ever did! To sell a commodity – and that is what popular music is – poetic angst, melodic ability and any other measure of meaning are not important. Being controversial within very narrow parameters are needed.

      When I think about the arms trade I wonder what would happen if the very clever people who design and make heat seeking missiles turned their minds to curing cancer – how long before it was eradicated?

      If the clever sales people who invent and manage the “controversy” for their record labels current cash cows turned their attention to how to whip up a campaign that promoted cancer prevention – how many lies would that save?

      Prancing around in your knickers is no biggie. Smoking weed is no biggie. Smoking weed while prancing around in your undies is no biggie. Rolling a spliff in a strong wind is a good skill though.

      1. Thanks for your kind comments. I agree with yours, but even “whipping up controversy” is nothing new. Jim Morrison regularly used to get his dick out on stage. While i love the Doors, i don’t think that enhanced the experience! Whenever I hear about Miley’s latest “antics” I think of Floyd’s Welcome to the Machine.

        On TonyM’s comments below, I see where you’re coming from (I’m a white middle aged, middle class male so I think Moronwatch should ban me from his site!), but THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!! On a more serious note, surely the more “inclusive” a discussion is, and the more people it involves, the better its chances of success in changing things.

        As a side point, quoting from discredited studies is not confined to “feministas”. Climate change deniers are pretty good at it too.

      2. The world spliff-rolling experts are the Spanish who can skin up one-handed on the beach in a gale.

        I don’t fully agree with this: “My “issues” with the whole Cyrus thing is that quality singer/songwriters don’t get a look in any more”…

        There’s the corporate music industry and then the “real” music industry. The charts have always been dominated by easy-to-swallow, mass-produced dross, but thanks to the Net, there’s far more “underground” music around than there ever was before.

        Back in the day, you had to hang out in the right record shops and clubs to discover the niche stuff. Most people didn’t bother, and just bought whatever was played on Radio 1. Now there’s a wealth of talent right there on Twitter, Soundcloud, etc! I’d say the London small-venue music scene today is better than it ever had been in the past.

    2. Sure, it’s a publicity stunt, but it worked. If selling millions of records was as easy as spliff and knickers, more people would be doing it.

      The “stealing music from black people” argument has always been fairly bogus. Black American musicians were not upset that white people liked playing their music; they were upset that they (as black musicians) were blocked from the airwaves!

      Black people were rightly annoyed that white singers with white bands and white dancers were playing black music to white audiences. Isn’t it then ludicrous that Cyrus is attacked for doing the very opposite?

      One of the most patronising aspects of this is labelling black backing dancers as somehow victims/objects being used by white people. Imagine training to be a world-class dancer, winning a high-profile job with a major star, and then being told you’re being exploited and used against your will. Can’t black dancers have minds of their own?

      It seems that no woman (especially a black one) who dances sexually can possibly have chosen to do that for themselves! Of course, it was white men who made them do it!

      And thus, racists accuse people of racism, and sexists accuse people of sexism… doublethink is alive and well.

      1. The “spliff and knickers” (as you so eloquently describe it) publicity stunt works particularly well for Cyrus, because it’s such a contrast with her Disneyfied past, so it “shocks” more. My only issue is whether she’s in control of it (see above).

        On the “stealing black music” issue, I was trying to put some historical context on it. I think on the whole the white musicians were probably rather better at making sure their “sources” were properly paid than their own record companies were. In many cases the black musicians in question were the white musicians’ heroes (eg the Stones and Muddy Waters).

        I know how much work and dedication is required to become a full time professional dancer. The idea that you could be duped into it is ridiculous.

        It does seem that some journalists want to nail Cyrus with an “ism” they can. This seems to me to be fundamentally divisive, and an attempt to drive people apart by putting them into categories. it says more about the writer than the subject I’ve borrowed this quote from “Why do The Wall now” written by Roger Waters in 2010, because I think it’s relevant to the discussion. Let me know what you think (I don’t expect you to become a Pink Floyd fan as a result!).

        “I recently came across this quote of mine from 22 years ago: ” What it comes down to for me is this: Will the technologies of communication in our culture, serve to enlighten us and help us to understand one another better, or will they deceive us and keep us apart?”

        “I believe this is still a supremely relevant question and the jury is out. There is a lot of commercial clutter on the net, and a lot of propaganda, but I have a sense that just beneath the surface understanding is gaining ground. We just have to keep blogging, keep twittering, keep communicating, keep sharing ideas.

        “30 Years ago when I wrote The Wall I was a frightened young man. Well not that young, I was 36 years old.

        “It took me a long time to get over my fears. Anyway, in the intervening years it has occurred to me that maybe the story of my fear and loss with it’s concomitant inevitable residue of ridicule, shame and punishment, provides an allegory for broader concerns.: Nationalism, racism, sexism, religion, Whatever! All these issues and ‘isms are driven by the same fears that drove my young life.

        “This new production of The Wall is an attempt to draw some comparisons, to illuminate our current predicament, and is dedicated to all the innocent lost in the intervening years.

        “In some quarters, among the chattering classes, there exists a cynical view that human beings as a collective are incapable of developing more ‘humane’ ie, kinder, more generous, more cooperative, more empathetic relationships with one another.

        “I disagree.

        “In my view it is too early in our story to leap to such a conclusion, we are after all a very young species. I believe we have at least a chance to aspire to something better than the dog eat dog ritual slaughter that is our current response to our institutionalized fear of each other. I feel it is my responsibility as an artist to express my, albeit guarded, optimism, and encourage others to do the same. To quote the great man, ” You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” “

        1. I’ll have oyu know I’ve been a Pink Floyd fan for a long time! And I saw them live in Wembley Stadium in (I think) 1986

          1. If it was 1989 I was at that gig too! Sat on the grass (and smoking it!!) while David Gilmour played “Wish You Were Here” and the sun went down over the stage.

            Can’t argue with that!

  2. Miley has made it clear her advisors are there at her sufferance and the record company is still a bit miffed that she didn’t stay safe Hannah Montanna for a few more years to keep the poor parents buying her albums for the kids. She has gone out her way to choose her root and like elvis’s hips and music the conservatives are busy deciding i9f lynching is too good and she should be burned at the stake.

    OMG I am a white person making a comment so obviously my opinion should not count. However the one thing we see is Banyard and co happily trotting out the same old rubbish even when they know it is wrong. Good example of this is the rape links object constantly quote from the debunked Lilith report which even Eaves who commissioned has removed from their website. If they have nothing which will prove their arguments they will trot around their friends till someone can be found who is willing to make a “statement”.

    To be honest the poor old guardian feminists (as opposed to real feminists that are independent and capable of making real choices) just trot out the same meaningless moans about how bad the world is when what they are actually saying is our opinion is the only valid one and no one else can comment because we say so.

    I could go on for hours which really is nothing new but when people like Bindel and Long publish books and then get their followers to buy them there has to be a message and that message is whatever they have a gripe with at the time.

      1. And NO TWERKING!!! Or any other kind of “sexualised” (whatever that means) dancing. And what, precisely, is non-sexual dancing?

      2. the other day someone used the phrase “opportunistic racism” in describing current attacks on Japanese video games for being “too sexy.” The idea is that what starts out as typical anti-sex feminism turns into something more sinister as it goes on, taking a certain amount of glee is attacking Asians.

        I honestly think this is akin to that, though not as straight forward. It wasn’t too long ago that this was something bandied about at the highest levels of the United States government:

        “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US,
        and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers.
        Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.” — Harry J. Anslinger, First Commissioner of the Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics

        I’ve been in a loving relationship with a Black woman for over a decade… I always get a bad vibe when I see people trying to enforce the colour line.

  3. I don’t think it was as simple as her being a racist because she had black dancers. I think it was about the way she portrayed the black dancers on stage as well as her videos. For example in her video “We can’t stop”. She’s seen to hang out with some of her friends (mostly white) and then separately twerking with some black dancers. That separation on its own implies a certain racism because she’s seen doing “normal things” with white people and “bad things” with black people (while she’s dressed in all white…). Why the separation? I don’t think she’s purposely being racist, but I think she’s “exploiting” racist stereotypes to gain attention. And when you use a racist stereotype you’re validating it, you’re feeding a pre-existing racism.
    Twerking became an issue when Miley did it, no one said anything when Rihanna did it. That shows that if at any point white girls act like “black girls” that’s not OK at all. Because again there’s this implication that black girls are up to no good, they’re “dirtier” than white girls. The reason why this rings an alarm in public consciousness it’s because there’s already a “predetermined message” in popular culture about black girls and the things they do, and unfortunately this message is racist. It separates black girls from “good girl behaviour” (white girl behaviour). Black girls are expected to be bad. White girls are expected to not be that bad. And if they’re bad then that’s not OK. No one says anything when black girls are bad because that’s what they were expecting.
    Even if among black people twerking is fine, sadly we still live in a world where white people own most corporations of media and general public information. They are the ones that decide what becomes part of public consciousness and how people learn to think of everything that happens in the world. So, when they communicate disapproval of a white girl doing black things, they’re implying disapproval of black people. And that makes the racist cycle that’s already prevalent in our society keep going round and round.
    From a feminist point of view I think Miley should be allowed to express herself in whatever way she wants. I don’t have a problem with that. But I think it’s unfortunate she’s using “black culture” to force people to pay attention to her. People are shocked because she’s doing something bad, something “black”. While she’s putting herself on top and exploiting her race privilege, she’s demeaning the people she’s imitating.
    I think the internet is a big part of why this is not OK anymore (whether it may have been OK when Madonna did it). A lot of people are just not ready to let it go and be quiet about it anymore, and that is a good thing.
    As far as black people (or any discriminated against group) asking white people to listen to them. I think this comes from a need to have communication, which is needed because white people don’t know what it’s like to be black. And yes white people can suffer racial discrimination from minority groups and I know not every black person has the same experience. However, when black people talk about their experience they’re talking about something that’s real and severe, whether it happens to all of them or not, whether all other black people will agree with them or not. It is something that needs attention and the only way we’re ever going to come close to dealing with these issues is with open communication, not objections.

    1. You make a good point about her friends being white and her dancers being black. America, we must remember, is still a racially segregated country, although it makes slow and steady progress in the right direction.

      The rest of your post shows the same confusion that, sadly, much of the left these days shows about racism. Today, unlike 50 years ago, black people appear in an infinite variety of ways. Head of the UN. Top businesspeople. US President! And even (gasp!) sexy dancers.

      To attack a black dancer’s right to dance on a Miley Cyrus video (because, yes, that is what you’re doing) is blatantly racist. You’re saying “yes, it’s fine for a black woman to be presented in this way or that way but OMG NOT SHAKING HER ARSE!”. Well FYI it’s not up to you. It’s up to the dancers themselves who (believe it or not) are intelligent, thinking people, and choose how they present themselves.

      Twerking is not new, though the word seems to be. I have been going to black dances and parties for three decades, and black women have always done wonderful things with their bums. The difference now is that they are featured in high-profile music videos for the first time. And guess what? Racists don’t like it. Dress it up in any PC way you like – the reality is that many white people have always hated and feared the beauty and sexiness of black dance, and the outraged reaction to Miley’s video shows the same old attitudes are alive and well.

      1. No this is not about the dancers and their right to dance. I could never criticize that because I am latin. I am directly connected to the development of African culture in South America. I am not black but my mother is, and I grew up enjoying the South American black culture (dancing, singing, etc). So believe me, I know how wonderful it is, because it is about rhythm and artistic expression, and I am fucking proud that it is part of my heritage. So this was never about their dancers doing the wrong thing. This is about the media only offering them an space to do what they do best in the wrong context and for the wrong reasons.
        As you mentioned, white people have always been afraid of black culture, and yes that is precisely the point. That is why anytime black people are presented in the mainstream media they are shown as “thugs” or “sluts” etc. What Miley is doing falls in that category, and that is why it is part of the institutional racism that is still prevalent in our society. That is why I don’t think it’s OK. We’ve had enough of that already.
        Yes black people are not just “black people” anymore, and that’s great. But there’s still a long way to go and these sort of performances and videos are not helping us move forwards, they’re helping us stay right where we are.
        Up until a black girl twerks and a white girl twerks and the public does not freak out about either or freaks out about both of them… then this won’t be about race anymore.

    2. I don’t think Miley is “using black culture to force people to pay attention to her”. She’s simply using shock tactics. It’s as old as the hills in popular music (if it gets up parents’ noses, the kids will buy it). See Elvis, Stones, Doors, Alice Cooper (original incarnation), Sex Pistols and many others.

      1. Every artist is entitled to do what they wish to do to help their careers. I don’t object to her shocking the audience. But it is unfortunate she has chosen to do this by validating racist stereotypes and presenting black culture as a powerful shocking factor, rather than an artistic form. Like I said before, I don’t think she’s doing this on purpose but that again goes to show the typical “obliviousness” white people have about the way black people are discriminated against.

    3. Your argument seems to rest on the idea that sexual African dance is a negative thing, and portrays black women badly. But that reflects on your reaction to it, not on the dance itself.

      From my perspective, sexual African dance is a positive thing, as is all sexual expression. It is one of MANY ways in which women are presented.

      Here’s a video of Nigerian women “twerking” (new name for an old dance). I see beauty, strength, female power. What do you see?

      1. That’s not my argument at all. I know African dances, I am latin and a descendant of African slaves in South america. I grew up dancing African dances, I know exactly what they’re about and I love everything about them. My argument is that these dances are being exploited and shown as something “dirty” because a white American female celebrity wants to shock people and do something that a racist society considers to be part of black culture and therefore: dirty. This is not about black people or black culture. It is about American white people taking advantage of that culture and portraying it inaccurately to gain power.

  4. “Yesterday, they outdid themselves, producing 73 year-old Christian singer Cliff Richard to express the hope that Cyrus “grows out of it”. ”

    Jeez…that’s like asking Aled Jones for his opinion of Napalm Death.

    The problem for the Guardian is that its first three responses to the Lily Allen video (ideal for those who find Kate Nash too edgy) were from white people before they got round to finding a black person who might have a more direct understanding than someone practising their Media Studies skills in support/defence of ‘Hard Out Here’ (I’ve nothing against Media Studies, but the ‘culture war’ tendency of such articles looks more like lazy research than considered analysis). That said, Dorian Lynskey’s piece was the best overview, if only for pointing out how the women involved (Cyrus and the director of the ‘Blurred Lines’ video) were somehow exonerated or deemed too stupid/exploited to have any responsibility, and recognising the pro-censorship tendencies amongst some feminists.

    Incidentally, there was the further layer of irony in Suzanne Moore’s claim that ‘we’ shouldn’t have to choose between racism and sexism, which sounded remarkably like she’d overlooked (a) the kind of ‘intersectionality’ she’d (ahem) ‘dissed’ in previous columns; (b) the intersection between say, feminism and transphobia or feminism and sex work, that had got her into so much trouble in recent months.

    And the ‘best’ bit? Cyrus is claiming she’s a proper feminist (well, she was wearing Doc Martens in the video) and that some journalists see her as a vanguard of a ‘new’ feminism (as if no-one else has been making similar claims for just about anything and everything for the last five years).

    Actually, the problem for the Guardian is simpler: it wants to throw ‘sex’ under the bus, and then gets confused when it all gets more complicated than that.

    1. Spot on… the Guardian has allowed/incited some of its white commentators to write some fairly racist articles, and then tries to fix that by wheeling out a token black commentator who agrees. It seems some readers don’t understand that a black pro-censorship feminist agreeing with white pro-censorship feminists is speaking on behalf of pro-censorship feminists, rather than black people.

      1. Maybe the Guardianistas should form the Professionally Upset By Everything Society.
        I’ll leave you to work out the acronym.

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