Monday, September 2, 2013

Twerk? On dirtier dancing...

Got to know how to pony
Like Bony Maronie
Mash potato, do the alligator
Put your hand on your hips,
Let your backbone slip
Do the Watusi
Like my little Lucy
Came up in this party time to twerk
Twerk, twerk, twerk, twerk...

HALLIE EPHRON: Unless you're living under a rock, by now you've heard about Miley Cyrus's provocative performance, "twerkin" it out in her skivvies on TV at MTV Video Music Awards. By comparison Lady Gaga was tasteful, peering at the audience through an egg-shape cutout in a white square of oaktag, wearing a white nun's habit (festooned with strands of tasteful pearls) and stripping to a black spangled body suit. 

I only know this after the fact, and you know only a cultural seismic anomaly could get me out on the Internet looking for a YouTube video of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. He's the one with the stripes; she's the one with the tongue.

Apparently the fitness folks are already on it: the Twerk Out. (Sounds like something for the Zumba Madam to take note of.)

Back in the day, I thought I was pretty provocative bumping and grinding (aka dancing) the Watusi and the Jerk. This is, order of magnitude, how shall I put it... dirtier dancing.

How about you? Are you shocked? Amused? Oblivious? Is this just same old same old? And 'fess up: have you had your moments of abandon on the dance floor?

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Anyone remember the Lambada - the dance of love?! I do..;-)

People have been bumping and grinding to music since we came out of the trees. They didn't call it "twerking" which I understand is a term that's been around since 2000, not just since last Sunday. I was o/o/t for the infamous performance but confess that I Googled it just to see what all the fuss was about.

Good grief..the girl has lost her mind. The hair alone should have been a tip-off.

If I were Robin Thicke I'd have been pissed. I love that song. "You're a good girl..." Hello...IRONY.

LUCY BURDETTE: You won't be surprised to discover that this is the first I've heard of Miley Cyrus. My reaction? I don't think it's a critical success to have your bum compared to Lady Gaga all over YouTube.:)

But really, what was more fun and sexier than the Twist?

ROSEMARY: Penelope Cruz, standing still in a red dress (or a schmatta for that matter) is sexier than that lunatic was.

HALLIE: And, I might add, sexier than me doing the Twist.

RHYS BOWEN: To me it was very sad. It was someone desperately clinging to some limelight, no longer Hannah Montana. I thought it was pathetic and disgusting. Unfortunately there is such a driving force these days for young girls to be sexy. My daughters have a hard time finding clothes that don't have messages like Hot Babe all over them. And then they wonder that girls wind up pregnant at 15!

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Oh, it was pitiful. Pitiful! I wanted to watch, but Jonathan voted for Silk, and won.

But I agree with Ro, I looked for it on YouTube. I mean--so disturbingly sad. I read an article saying it was powerful, somehow, that she was proving women could do anything. I suppose--but if you can, you don't HAVE to. You should see what the interns in my office wear. Are we fuddy-duddies? Even using that word proves I am, I guess.

Is there any way a child star can grow up without being destroyed? And too bad for InSync,whose reunion (do we care?) was completely upstaged.

(Sadly, maybe, I just had to answer a questionnaire about what was on my ipod playlist. Um..nothing, really. What an uncool answer.)

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I, of course, knew all about Miley Cyrus because my youngest girl was a HUGE Hannah Montana fan. Seeing her "performance" was... is there a word that means deeply embarrassed for someone who doesn't know enough to be embarrassed for herself?

It also made me deeply grateful there was no internet around when I was young. I would have hated to have my own flailing, awkward attempts to "prove" I was a grown-up preserved for all time in a meme like Miley Cyrus Twerks on Famous Paintings.  If I were Miley's mother (and I am grateful I'm not) I would try to get her out of showbiz for a few years. Let her go to college and work out her issues at house parties and under-twenty-one clubs, where her worst exposure might be some pictures on Facebook. Plus, she might eventually learn enough to understand she has more to offer the world than her body.

As for abandon on the dance floor - when I was Miley's age, I was slamdancing and pogoing to the Ramones. No wonder my knees are shot now.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I couldn't quite make myself sit through all six-some-odd minutes of this video--and no, I didn't see it in real time--I was watching SILK. My first thought--what was Robin Thicke, who is a really talented musician--thinking???  The second thought was EEWEUW! (Is that the correct way to spell the expression of horrified disgust?) Now, I know that these things are cyclical--remember the furor over Elvis the Pelvis? Or over the Beatles shaking their mop-tops?

And I've actually been able to give the Bieber a little leeway over the crotch-grabbing in his performances because he actually can sing and dance.  But Miley? She should just disappear from the planet for about ten years. How old do you have to be to learn that less is more? Just look at the tango. What could be sexier than that? Definitely NOT Miley Cyrus.

And Julia, OMG, I hadn't seen the Scream meem.  Maybe Miley should disappear from the planet for about twenty years...

HALLIE:  I asked a 30-something friend about Miley and here's what she said: "I just thought she looked dumb. Silly. You felt bad for her, like the girl who drinks too much at the party and someone should take her home and put her to bed."

All I can say is Walt Disney must be spinning in his grave. Miley was, after all, Hannah Montana once upon a time. Where's Annette Funicello when you need her? On Walt's advice, she eschewed a bikini on Bikini Beach.

Next time, Miley should ask herself: What Would Annette do?


Ramona said...

I'll confess: I cared about the NSync reunion. When my sons were in 3rd grade, "Bye Bye Bye" was a huge hit. On the way home from a field trip, it played on the radio and every kid on the bus sang along at the top of their lungs. The bus nearly bounced off the road. It was too cute, and hearing that song makes me smile. I thought their performance was much too short.

Miley....I never say this. Never. But, I blame her parents. Her mother was in the audience taking photos instead of stomping onto the stage and dragging Miley off. Dad got her into the business. She's 20, so old enough to vote and be in the army but not old enough to buy a beer. To me, 20 is still a kid. Her parents are adults, her agent is an adult, that Robin Thicke guy is an adult, and a father and husband. There were no grown-ups in sight, and there should have been, to keep this girl from making a fool of herself. Do I think it's a national tragedy? No. Do I think it foreshadows a personal tragedy? You bet. I don't think she'll ever live it down, but if there is one sensible person in her life who sees it as a wake-up call, she might not be the next Lindsey Lohan or Amanda Bynes. I think those young girls are pitiful and feel sorry for Miley.

Joan Emerson said...

I didn’t see this “performance,” except for the clip shown on the news the next morning and that alone was more than enough to make me embarrassed for Miley. I have no clue as to why she thinks she must shed the Hannah Montana “image” or why she thinks this was the way to do it. I wanted to cry for her when the newswoman commenting on the whole debacle reported that Miley’s record company wasn’t the least bit upset by it since she now had the two top-selling iTunes numbers. It’s as if we’re watching one more young and talented performer on the fast track to becoming yet another Lindsay Lohan train wreck . . . what a waste.

Jungle Red Writers said...

Ramona, Joan -- I agree. Guess it's what she thinks she has to do to grab our attention.

It brought back memories of Jennifer Beals in Flashdance... who really COULD dance... or at least the stunt double who danced for her could.

Kaye Barley said...

I didn't see the performance and heard about all this via Facebook (which is where I seem to catch up on my pop culture issues).

I thought that poor child was an embarrassment too. These young women today don't seem to value themselves in the least little bit and I find that enormously sad.

Now, I do have a question - is the dumb tongue thing part of this "twerking" craze or was that this girl's own little add-on?

Marianne in Maine said...

I guess it worked - we're all still talking about her. Her publicist must be over the moon.

I just saw the clip on the news (glad to see so many others also watched "Silk")and I was disgusted. That's it, just plain disgusted. What a role model for girls!!!

And I agree, thank goodness there was no internet or smart phone cameras when I was mash potato-ing and twisting like I knew what I was doing. I'm sure it wasn't a pretty sight.

Hallie Ephron said...

I asked my daughter that very question, Kaye! She didn't know. I'm betting the foam finger was an add on.

Karen in Ohio said...

Ugh, the level of taste in the US has fallen lower then the common earthworm, hasn't it? Especially with the girl's mother and father beaming at her obnoxious performance as what was not much more than a pole dancer. It didn't showcase her singing talent (what there is of it), and really, it's only purpose was clearly to shove her rudely into our consciousness. And yes, that part worked.

To me, it wasn't so much the booty wagging, or even the flesh-colored latex undies. It was the lewdness (and downright mania) of that tongue, and the weird foam finger masturbation simulation. At least Michael Jackson was fully clothed when he did his onstage crotch grabbing.

Karen in Ohio said...

Sorry for the typos. Its.

Jack said...

I thought her performance was a triumph of artistic expression.

Of course, I also raved about the musical genius of Tiny Tim.

Hallie Ephron said...

Karen: Yes, the tongue was disturbing.

Jack: Tiptoe, through the tulips... Ah, yes, the maestro of the ukelele. Grossed me out, though, when he hooked up with Miss Vicki. Now there was a wedding for the ages.

Sandi said...

I've been defending Miley Cyrus for a couple of years. At 18, 19, 20 she shouldn't be held to the same expectations that we had of a 14 year old who played a character on a Disney show. She has a right to explore her sexuality, to find her own voice, and to choose her own image. She can sing when she has something worth singing (Google her video of godmother Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'). This performance, finally, leaves me with little to say in her defense. Freaky hair, fine. Freaky tongue, stupid, but fine. Unflattering flesh toned vinyl bikini, questionable. Bending over and shaking her butt at well, everyone, not fine. And the foam finger took it over the top. BUT...

Watch the unrated video for Blurred Lines and you'll see three women wearing nothing but extremely tiny flesh-toned g-strings prancing back and forth in front of Robin Thicke, Pharrell and T.I. One of the women briefly brandishes a foam finger. Wonder where Miley came up with her idea? Also, listen carefully to the lyrics of the song - it isn't so sweet. "I'm gonna take a good girl - you know you want it" combined with the title, Blurred Lines, has some women uncomfortable with the idea that it suggests no doesn't necessarily mean no. In the rap section, we have another little inspiration for Miley: "Let me be the one you back that ass to" and other graphic language. Robin Thicke doesn't get a pass. His happy, chirpy little song is a perfect match lyrically for the character that Miley Cyrus displayed on that stage.

Ellen K said...

Sad. Just sad.

That outfit proved that she doesn't have the best body; it wasn't flattering at all, and only sexy if you've never seen sexy. She merely proved that she doesn't have much talent (guess she outgrew what little she had; hope she saved her money).

Too bad she can't just disappear for a while as suggested above, but in this age of people tweeting photos from their phones, she can't just fade away to some woodsy college for some growing-up time. Pardon my use of today's version of English, but someone else "will be all 'OMG just saw Mylie C buying Oreos at the 7/11 like she doesn't have heavy enough thighs!'"

I caught the clip after the fact, of course-- I only watch awards shows hosted by Neil Patrick Harris or Hugh Jackman. But this performance was indeed sad, just sad.

Hallie Ephron said...

So interesting, Sandi - vile and not even original vile.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

Her mother was in the audience? Oh, gosh, yes that is disturbing.

I remember years ago asking my cute little niece what she wanted to be when she grew up, and she said "a Flashdancer."

Even though there is no such thing--(except for the movie, which I could watch a million times) I was appalled. She's now an art historian, so I guess it doesn't matter.

JudyinBoston said...

In the twenties there was a "dirty" version of the Black Bottom. We did something called the "Dirty Bop" which was reputed to be imported from faraway St. Louis. That being said, my granddaughter always watched Hannah Montana and to see Cyrus her morph into such slutty behavior is disappointing. Did everyone know what "twerking" was before she showed us? Have to confess that I did not.

Karen in Ohio said...

Well, I had heard of twerking, but had completely forgotten that it meant shaking one's behind around.

Because, after all, what need had I to retain such a fact, hmm?

Rosemary Harris said...

I'm not suggesting that Robin Thicke's song is a paean to womanhood,and his lyrics don't have Stephen Sondheim quaking in his boots, but everything that's in a song, book or movie isn't to be taken literally. Or shown on primetime television (was it network or cable?) There's a time and a place for suggestive dancing. And an acceptable cast of characters.
An anonymous line of dancers doing the same thing might have been barely mentioned (okay maybe not the finger bit..)

Hallie Ephron said...

Dirty bop? Who knew, Judy!

And what about close dancing? At school dances there were rules to keep all that body contact from happening.

Hallie Ephron said...

"everything that's in a song, book or movie isn't to be taken literally" - agreed, Ro.

Here are lyrics Patrick Swayze himself wrote for Dirty Dancing:
She's like the wind through my tree,
She rides the night next to me
She leads me through moonlight
Only to burn me with the sun
She's taken my heart
But she doesn't know what she's done

Mmmm. Sweet.

Laura DiSilverio said...

Like Julia's daughter, mine was a huge Hannah Montana fan. I actually tried to get her tix to an HM/Miley concert back in the day (too expensive). My daughter, recently turned 16, saw the YouTube vid of Miley and told me she has lost all respect for her. So, teens these days are still capable of evaluating pop figures' behavior and choosing not to emulate them. Like many other commenters, I found the performance mainly sad (which is probably condescending of me, but there you have it).

Marcia Talley said...

Here's the Star Trek take on it. ROTFLMAO!!

Tammy said...

I, too, was disgusted and saddened by Miley Cyrus ... and then I read an article pointing how biased we're all being by focusing in her and not pointing equal fingers at Robin Thicke. (And yes, there's been plenty of backlash about how possibly misogynistic the song/video are, though it's supposed to be poking fun at the whole genre of naked girls in videos.)

Also, you all missed Lady Gaga's last outfit. Yes, she got down to the black spangled bodysuit, and then to a shell bikini top and a G-string ... which she proceeded to wear the rest of the evening, sitting in the audience. I kept thinking, how awkward to be sitting next to her as she kept jumping up to greet people.

Ellen K said...

Hallie's mention of Patrick Swayze got me to thinking about how great the movie "Dirty Dancing" was, and that Mylie should have watched Jennifer Grey win "Dancing with the Stars" (or Donald Driver, for that matter) to see what really sexy dancing is.

Deb said...

Marcia Talley, you beat me to it!!!! The Star Trek video had me in absolute stitches! I've watched it twice with tears rolling down my face.

Well, if all Miley wanted was to be everywhere, even on the deck of the Starship Enterprise, she certainly got it...

Julia said...

OMG, Marcia, that Star Trek video is to die for.
And I'll chime in with those of you saying "What about Robin Thicke's judgment?" I understand he's 36 years old. As Ramona pointed out, it's the job of adults to give guidance and support to young people, not to exploit them because they don't grasp the long-term consequences of their actions.

Also agree with Sandi. Ross pointed out that Miley Cyrus has a very pretty, evocative voice for singing country music. Unfortunately, it seems she's decided to model herself on Nicki Minaj instead of Taylor Swift.

Kathy Reel said...

Finally, I was able to laugh at this disgusting performance after viewing the Star Trek video. Thanks, Marcia. I didn't see the original performance and so glad that I didn't. Nothing sexy about Miley Cyrus' foray into "adult" performing. What I have seen of it is embarrassing and pathetic, and I'm not sure how dancing, a term loosely used here, with giant teddy bears is proof of her transformation to an adult. From her absurd hairdo to her dearth of talent, the girl is a train wreck. Of course, Robin Thicke needs to do a bit of self reflecting here, too. Apparently, it took two to tango in this tasteless, talentless display of desperation.

Sandi said...

Sorry, Rosemary, I have to disagree a bit. There's no reason a person who is famous should be held to a different standard. An anonymous line of dancers doing the same thing, even without the finger, is just as bad. Don't get me wrong - I hated the performance, and thought it showed a remarkable lack of judgment by everyone involved. However, it was a performance, falling under the same statement that everything in a song, book or movie isn't to be taken literally. Bottom line (okay, I feel bad but I'm laughing at that unintentional pun), I'm less disturbed by her performance that said "I can if I want to," than his lyrics that can be interpreted as, "I can if you DON'T want to."

Hallie Ephron said...

Oh, Marcia Talley, THANK YOU!! Though now I'm starting to feel sorry for her.

And nice synchronicity in this universe... tomorrow's blog is about Star Trek. (Ellen Kozak talks about covering the movie premiers, fan conventions, and meeting... well, you'll see who she met.)

carol weston said...

What we all need to do is just turn it off! Switch channels. Miley needs to understand that this is not what we want.

Linda Rodriguez said...

I think it's easy to forget that this wasn't just Miley. There were producers, Robin Thicke, and tons of others much older and more experienced than she involved with this, including Miley's parents. It wasn't spur of the moment. It was choreographed and rehearsed again and again. And as several others have pointed out, her carefully choreographed performance used tropes from Thicke's controversial music video (which some of us believe promotes rape culture). Not a coincidence.

I've read the articles trying to claim that she's exercising female sexual empowerment here, and I don't buy it. What I see is a 20-year-old who's been in the business for years doing what the adults around her told her to do to be a success and once again doing the same again. Exploitation is what I see.

Kristopher said...

Yes, I don't think we can give Robin Thicke a pass here. It was rehearsed, so he knew what was going to be happening (and let's face it, he didn't look like he minded too much).

The song is catchy, but if one listens to the lyrics, there are some dubious underlying messages to it. I have not (and have no interest in seeing the video), but make no mistake about it, this song is intended to be sexual.

As for Miley, it wasn't the "twerking" that was really the problem for me. It was that outfit (and the hair, and the tongue, and the teddy bears,and that damn finger). One just thinks, didn't any of her friends/family stop her and say "do you really want to look like that for posterity?" It will haunt her forever.

"Twerking" itself, is no different than all of the dance crazes of the past. Remember - when Elvis moved his hips it was considered scandalous as well. And it too, shall pass.

colbymarshall said...

I'm a pro ballroom dancer, so I'm all for the way body movement can be sexy and how "dirty dancing" can also be cultural (like in the lambada, as you mentioned). My problem with Miley's "dancing" (as opposed to Lady Gaga's performance, for example), was that it wasn't even really dance that involved technique or practice. Anyone can get on stage an do something like that...Lady Gaga, clearly the trained dancer of the two, gets lots of kudos for her art. That might be what Miley's looking for, but the technique...the way it's done...those matter. To me, they're the difference between good buzz and being thought of AS buzzed.

Hank Phillippi Ryan said...

May I confess? I've never heard the Robin Thicke song.

Reine said...

I am living under a rock. Do not rescue me. Well maybe for just a little peek at that Scream. It's terrible, but I can't stop giggling. Poor Miley? Poor Munch.