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Twerking kills... or does it?
August 27, 2013 8:35 AM   Subscribe

The big news yesterday was Miley Cyrus' twerking on Robin Thicke at the VMAs, and revelations of Syria's flagrant violations of international law by using chemical weapons against its own civilians.

Some have lamented that the attention paid to Miley Cyrus detracts from the real issues. Foreign Policy blogger and professor of international politics, Dan Drezner, calls this claim "utter hors**t". The Onion satirized the media's coverage of Cyrus and Syria, as only they can.

But does the media coverage of Cyrus' twerking help Bashar Al-assad get away with murder?

Social science research suggest that this claim, is not utter horseshit, and at least plausible: "Thomas Eisensee and David Stromberg studied the effect of news coverage of more than 5,000 natural disasters on policymakers’ responses to see whether policy responses were driven by media coverage or policy rationales. Their study hinges on a fundamental truth about the media business: during large-scale events such as the Olympics, television networks, which have a fixed time budget (even a 24-hour-network can’t broadcast more than 24 hours a day), have less time to devote to unplanned events like disasters because of the time they spend on the scheduled spectacle."

Another political scientists uses this research to suggest that Drezner may be too quick to dismiss those critical of the US media coverage: Popular Culture Can Crowd Out International Relations.

The paper's abstract.
posted by MisantropicPainforest (371 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I have to admit, although I have been reading as much about the Syria situation as I possibly can without constantly losing it, this video of Hank and Marie from Breaking Bad watching the VMAs is a good balance to the heaviness of Syria. (DH and I are just starting Season 5 tonight, so I actually have no idea what they are supposed to be watching... plz don't spoil me.)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:40 AM on August 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


You just made me watch a bunch of Miley Cyrus gifs. So there's a data point, I guess.
posted by gwint at 8:40 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lost in all this is Will Smith & Family's reaction to Syria revelations.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:44 AM on August 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


Man, this Cyrus kid is a huge bore. I think the media just is hungry for another wayward starlet train wreck to fill airtime with.
posted by planetesimal at 8:45 AM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:46 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


So though everything seems to be pointing towards intervention, Tony Blair has even stuck his oar in, events in Egypt and Lybia have shown that the overthrow of such a goverment may have unforeseen results. It must remembered that the Syrian opposition basically are Al Queda. On the other hand surely all pop music is based on cultural appropriation?
posted by Artw at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can't read Drezner without logging in to Foreign Policy, so can someone clarify for me if he mentions the way Michael Jackson's death pushed the Iranian revolution off the airwaves almost completely? Because *that* shit was real; I watched it happen. I caught a glimpse of a graph before FP blocked the article, so what exactly is Drezner's argument? The responses don't make it clear.
posted by mediareport at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2013


That Onion article is pretty damned spot-on.

I think there's also lots of media fatigue among the public that goes on with Syria being somewhere in the headlines on a regular basis. I mean, people see all the crazy stuff that is going on there and already have figured out how to compartmentalize *all* new information about Syria. The revelations that chemical agents were used probably do not strike many as being more egregious than what was already known about the region, but I think this is as much a cognition problem as a media coverage one.
posted by antonymous at 8:47 AM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yes, it's the distraction of a jiggling ass, and not the last 12 years of war that have reduced the public's taste for unilateral military strikes in the Middle East.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:49 AM on August 27, 2013 [49 favorites]


Miley Cyrus makes me sad. Three years ago, I took a road trip with my then-5-year-old daughter. We stayed in a hotel and visited a museum and a waterpark, and at night we got pizza and watched TV in our room. It happened to be the weekend that the Hannah Montana finale was airing, and it was an event for her. I distinctly remember how excited she was.

Three years later, my girl is still sweet and little, and she has not yet crossed that line into the grown-up world that Miley crossed at some point during those same years. But Miley had to cross them with the entire world watching, and that's just not healthy. People point and laugh at child stars that get messed up - shit, there's an entire "journalism" industry devoted to nothing more than shining a camera on them - but it's not funny and it's nothing other than sad. Growing up is the goddamned hardest thing most people ever have to do, and I can't comprehend why any parent would want their children to do it in the public eye. I suppose the money is just too irresistible.
posted by jbickers at 8:49 AM on August 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


Ugh, my achy, breaky eyes.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:49 AM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


A possible unifying explanation.
posted by Artw at 8:49 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Isn't the primary purpose of the VMAs (adopted now by the Academy Awards) to yearly establish the cultural relevance of the hosting organization by aggressively trolling the Internet and mass media?
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:50 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Obligatory, includes v minor spoilers for this week's Breaking Bad.
posted by emmtee at 8:51 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Uploaded on Jul 1, 2008
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:52 AM on August 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


It must remembered that the Syrian opposition basically are Al Queda.

Or, if you are a complete dumbass like me, learned for the first time.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:53 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The problem with this Miley song isn't the sex, it's the song's ethos: this kind of millennial west coast apathy about the world around us, this self-righteous craving for the ephemeral that leads to Syria getting ignored in the first place. The song validates all that's wrong with the kids today.

Discliamer: I am a west coast millennial. Get off my lawn.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:54 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


What's Syria? A boy band or hip hop group?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:54 AM on August 27, 2013


Two things:


1) Drezner, ugh.

2) Miley Cyrus twerking is the most unsexy thing I've seen this year. It's Christina Aquilara all over again
posted by MartinWisse at 8:54 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


What about Kanye? Forced to compete with with both Syria and Cyrus. I'd like to know his take on all this.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:55 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The best observation I've heard about Miley Cyrus' attention at the VMAs didn't even mention Syria - it simply asked why Macklemore's rendition of "Same Love" isn't the VMA performance getting attention.

That song STILL makes me cry every damn time I hear it
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:56 AM on August 27, 2013 [35 favorites]


It must remembered that the Syrian opposition basically are Al Queda.

No, they're not. There are Islamist rebel groups in Syria and some call themselves Al Queda, but they're basically the same as yer average MacDonalds: just a franchise, not scary evil 9/11 causers.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:56 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I haven't been paying much attention to the news lately, plus I'm old and out of touch. Why is Robin Thicke threatening to fire missiles at Miley Cyrus?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:56 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Acting irrationally if he feels ignored would make Kanye the North Korea of the situation.
posted by Artw at 8:57 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


MartinWisse: "they're basically the same as yer average MacDonalds: just a franchise, not scary evil 9/11 causers."

The Golden Arches Theory of Conflict Instigation™.
posted by Apropos of Something at 8:57 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't worry Miley -- young Justin Timberlake was involved in a media-frenzied sexual event with an older adult when he was around your age just 9 years ago and this year he got a Lifetime Achievement award. Unless, of course, there's some sort of gender-based double standard involved here. But, no, of course not.


But seriously, though the Miley Cyrus 'controversey' was much talked about - it wasn't the lead story on anywhere other than websites. It was the last story on the Nightly News if it was covered at all yesterday evening. Syria should be getting more attention, but it was the lead on all 3 networks last night, and the Cyrus story was the dead last one discussed (on NBC at least)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:57 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


My 7 year-old referred to her as "Princess Yuckygums."
posted by prepmonkey at 8:58 AM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Alan Thicke must be so ashamed of his son, right now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:58 AM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


This old-ish Adam Curtis bit on how the news came to be an endless stream of horrors we can do nothing about applies, I think.

Another point made by someone on my Twitter feed is that the absolute last thing anyone wants is for the people who are currently employed to write about Miley Cyrus to suddenly switch gears and start cranking out slideshows about Syria instead.
posted by Copronymus at 8:58 AM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


1. Miley Cyrus has a very large tounge.
2. There are no good options for us in Syria besides drop some bombs on 'em and call it a day. And I don't think that's a good option.
3. Wow, here we are in 2013 and the VMAs are still trying to replicate the success of Madonna's "Like A Virgin" performance from 1984.
4. What are the prospects of getting a UN resolution to support multinational intervention in Syria?
posted by vibrotronica at 8:59 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I had been secretly hoping the whole thing was an elaborate lure to let Miley get close enough to an unguarded Robin Thicke to do him some real lasting harm.
posted by emmtee at 9:00 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Why is Robin Thicke threatening to fire missiles at Miley Cyrus?

Euphemisms of Mass Destruction?
posted by C'est la D.C. at 9:00 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


No, they're not. There are Islamist rebel groups in Syria and some call themselves Al Queda, but they're basically the same as yer average MacDonalds: just a franchise, not scary evil 9/11 causers.

That's what Al Queda has always been, it doesn't suddenly make them awesome cool guys.
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on August 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


There are Islamist rebel groups in Syria and some call themselves Al Queda, but they're basically the same as yer average MacDonalds: just a franchise, not scary evil 9/11 causers.

Things went so well when we put our support behind the Afghanistan franchise back in the '80s.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:01 AM on August 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


It wasn't surprising that Miley was focused on most in the VMA coverage the next day, but what really surprised me was that no one seemed to care that Lady Gaga basically hung out in a thong the entire show. I was sure that would piss off moral America more...
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:02 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "The best observation I've heard about Miley Cyrus' attention at the VMAs didn't even mention Syria - it simply asked why Macklemore's rendition of "Same Love" isn't the VMA performance getting attention."

Thanks for posting this. The record is framed on my wall, and yet I still somehow forget what this song did and meant, especially to those of us up here in Seattle. Just goregous all around.
posted by Apropos of Something at 9:03 AM on August 27, 2013


Speaking of breaking bad, nothing was more annoying to me in my twitter feed Sunday night than dudes saying "IF UR NOT WATCHING BREAKING BAD FOR THE VMAS YOU SUCK AND YOURE STUPID". First of all, I don't like breaking bad but if I did it's not like I desperately need someone to spoil it for me on twitter, and secondly of alls some of the funniest and cleverest women and gay people I follow (especially Billy Eichner) (and also some dudes just not that many) were making life more bearable by joking around about the VMAs. If you're going to berate people from being distracted from chemical weapons attacks in Syria by pop fluff, well, ok fair enough. But to act like a fucking crime show about cool crimes is 1000000x more important than pop fluff is just really really pathetic.

Those are my emotions.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:03 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


it simply asked why Macklemore's rendition of "Same Love" isn't the VMA performance getting attention.

Thanks for linking to that. I love that song and that version of it was lovely.
posted by jessamyn at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Her tongue is freakishly large.
And I think the Syria thing is such that if people think more than a minute about it, it's like, well that's fucked. It sort of Stephen King's point that we would rather watch a lurching zombie than address nuclear conflagration
posted by angrycat at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


But does the media coverage of Cyrus' twerking help Bashar Al-assad get away with murder?

No, it doesn't. Next question?
posted by yoink at 9:05 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


That's what Al Queda has always been, it doesn't suddenly make them awesome cool guys.

Not quite, it only became a proper franchise organisation after 2001 and the destruction of much of the original. Any given AQ organisation these days may have nothing more in common with the Osama led one than a vague Islamist ideology. For the most part AQ has started to mean "Islamists we don't support this week".

And the point remains that it's far from the entire Syrian opposition.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


it simply asked why Macklemore's rendition of "Same Love" isn't the VMA performance getting attention.

It's that simple refrain and the female singers that make that song for me and kudos for Macklemore at the end here to get out of their way. Goosebumps.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:08 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Things went so well when we put our support behind the Afghanistan franchise back in the '80s.

Not sure exactly where the sarcasm goes there, but that's the point, isn't it? It continues to be very difficult to sort out the rebels the USA wants to win from the rebels the USA doesn't want to win. It was true in Libya, it was true in Iraq, it was true in Somalia, it's true in Syria. These are tough questions that absolutely will only be made worse by a US bombing.

(also, this is going to be a really strange fucking thread)
posted by mediareport at 9:09 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


A confirmed use of chemical weapons would be on one of the few things that could overcome Russia's deeply held opposition to western intervention - as such it would be a deep misstep by the regime there. Some have expressed skepticism that the evidence of the gas attack comes from US ally Israel. On the other hand Timberlake saying he almost refused the VMA award due to it's huge historical import is fuckibg hilarious, get the fuck over yourselves.
posted by Artw at 9:09 AM on August 27, 2013


What are the prospects of getting a UN resolution to support multinational intervention in Syria?

Zero, as long as Russia & China are opposed. China might swing, Russia won't, unless Syria begins truly massive gassing operations. A little gas here & there they can ignore, and will ignore.
posted by aramaic at 9:11 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm completely confused on which topic we are supposed to be talking about here. You got your Miley out of Syria and into my Breaking Bad.
posted by Big_B at 9:11 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


For the most part AQ has started to mean "Islamists we don't support this week".

Wow, that's not even wrong. Seriously, not even close.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:12 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is all pretty much non-news, in the case of Syria. There's still no incontrovertible proof, or at least really really good proof. The UN inspectors have been there since yesterday and I haven't heard of them turning in an official report in half a day, especially when *someone* was supposed to have re-bombed the original site at which the weapons are alleged to be used.
Nothing in that article or any of the others that I've read say "this is what the proof is" and neither do Kerry's speeches on how bad it all is makes mention of any because they don't have any. Russia and China will veto UN involvement in Syria unless they're given that proof, and if the US, Britain, France and any others want to sidestep that it might sour relations with the countries, and any country that says it's "crystal clear" what happened might want to look at hiring a new mouthpiece.
The most important thing is to fill airtime and column space with histrionics, as that's what sells.
posted by Zack_Replica at 9:12 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was once at a labor event back when all this Syria stuff started and a derailing debate broke out about whether US intervention ever does more good than harm. Someone raised their hand and asked us whether our debate would actually make any difference in what would happen in Syria, whether we had any meaningful way to influence US policy on this point. And that pretty much killed that particular debate.

Now, I'm not saying that folks should be watching Miley Cyrus, poor stupid kid, culturally appropriate all over the television instead of following what's going on in Syria - but this type of hand-wringing always suggests to me that there is actually some way for us to affect whether the US intervenes or not, if only we turn off the televisions. And I'm not sure there is.

What vehicle is there for expressing popular will on this point? What organizations exist to mobilize ordinary people? Will we have street protests? I've been to all kinds of street protests about various US interventions over the years, and they're pretty ragtag. Will people be calling their senators? Will the people who call their senators really be people who would otherwise be distracted by Miley Cyrus, or will they be the same people who are already paying attention to foreign affairs, many of whom are wealthy and connected? Will calls to senators make any difference? If we intervene/do not intervene in Syria in a way that contravenes the popular will, is this going to genuinely delegitimize our regime? Does this type of thing typically delegitimize US governments? Do we have the type of media which will provide useful and accurate information about Syria most of the time, or do we have media which will provide bootlicking and oversimplified accounts which support whatever the mainline government policy is at the time? Does "the public" have access to enough news coverage to form a meaningful opinion if they do turn off the VMAs?

I remember Haiti and Kosovo and the various lies that were told around those interventions, and I know very well how the real suffering of others in the world is manipulated to serve US policy interests. I am very, very skeptical that there is a way to mobilize the popular will right now on a complicated international issue, no matter what else is on TV - and that's just assuming that there is an international action that wouldn't prove, five years down the road, just to fuck everything up more or to be part of some deep US foreign policy game.

I'm not saying that people can't, under the right circumstances, be incredibly moved to take action based on foreign policy concerns - or that those actions can't be a turning point in national policy - consider the Suez Crisis, which was a big deal in the consolidation of British [liberalism? leftism? social democratic internationalism?] in 1956. I am saying that very particular circumstances need to be in place to bring those about.

Frankly, the terrain of struggle around this stuff is pretty terrible right now. It is comforting to believe that if "we" can get "them" to turn off the VMAs, then something will happen. But I think that's utopian*.


*Let's not forget that there's a gendered and raced reading to all this - the assumption that "real" politics is what white policy wonk dudes decide it is, not what those stupid women and minorities think it is, that's just some kind of cultural bullshit and whining and triviality, not anything meaningful.
posted by Frowner at 9:12 AM on August 27, 2013 [45 favorites]


(In the Pauli sense of not even wrong, I should have clarified.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:13 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Remember back in the USSR days and the Mayday parades of new military hardware rolling in front of the Kremlin?

Yeah, the VMA was our Mayday and Cyrus is the new bomb. I think Assad will get the message. For all our sakes, I hope he gets it in time. Or before Al Qaeda gets their own Cyrus. Or something.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:13 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's funny to me how it's chemical weapons that are making people concerned about Syria.

"Hey, I killed a bunch of people with conventional guns, artillery and especially bombs."

"Yuck. Well, could you think about not doing that?"

....

"Hey, I killed a bunch of people with nerve gas."

"You monster! I'm outraged."
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:14 AM on August 27, 2013 [28 favorites]


Nothing in that article or any of the others that I've read say "this is what the proof is" and neither do Kerry's speeches on how bad it all is makes mention of any because they don't have any. Russia and China will veto UN involvement in Syria unless they're given that proof, and if the US, Britain, France and any others want to sidestep that it might sour relations with the countries, and any country that says it's "crystal clear" what happened might want to look at hiring a new mouthpiece.
The most important thing is to fill airtime and column space with histrionics, as that's what sells


FWIW, I've been reading about Syria's use of chemical weapons in the Arabic-language press for some time now.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:14 AM on August 27, 2013


Let's not forget that there's a gendered and raced reading to all this - the assumption that "real" politics is what white policy wonk dudes decide it is, not what those stupid women and minorities think it is, that's just some kind of cultural bullshit and whining and triviality, not anything meaningful.

Except people's lives are at stake in Syria, and no one dies when Cyrus twerks.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:16 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


100% serious prediction: At least one major member of the conservative rage machine and/or member of Congress will make noise over the fact that the Breaking Bad finale is the day before:

1) Major portions of Obamacare go into effect
2) The debt ceiling must be raised
3) Government funding must be approved
4) The GOP attempts to kill the global economy and/or shut down the US government by stopping #2 and #3 from happening
posted by zombieflanders at 9:16 AM on August 27, 2013


there's a gendered and raced reading to all this

You mean the white minstrelry of Cyrus' act? Yeah, I'm with you.
posted by mediareport at 9:17 AM on August 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


Who Cried When Miley Thighed
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:17 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


mediareport: "You mean the white minstrelry of Cyrus' act? Yeah, I'm with you."

I wondered if there was going to be a thread just about that. Because, woah.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:18 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


100% serious prediction: At least one major member of the conservative rage machine and/or member of Congress will make noise over the fact that the Breaking Bad finale is

Book it. Any stakes.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:18 AM on August 27, 2013


More and more evidence is emerging that, like it's conventional weapons, the chemical weapons used by Iraq against Iran were US supplied. But did Mumfird and Sons show up? That constitutes a war crime itself.
posted by Artw at 9:19 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]



Except people's at lives are at stake in Syria, and no one dies when Cyrus twerks.


Except that - as far as I can tell - there isn't a fucking thing we can do about Syria. You might as well have an opinion about twerking instead, since that could conceivably affect something in your life. If we did/do have some actual way to influence events, that's more important, of course - but if all that's in play is "shall we handwring over chemical weapons or shall we pearl-clutch over twerking" then matters are a bit different.

I don't think this is a great state of affairs, I just think that it's the real of US foreign policy right now, and dealing with that has to happen before it's worth worrying about how the youth care only about twerking and not about chemical weapons.
posted by Frowner at 9:19 AM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


The reason why the gassing is news is because Kerry is going on about it being a "moral obscenity*." To have the US Sec of State talk about that, with Hegel backing him up, makes it seem like shit might go down.

*I do believe it is that, but what is an actionable obscenity and what is not is so arbitrary
posted by angrycat at 9:19 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miley Cyrus twerking is the most unsexy thing I've seen this year.

Did you see the bears?
posted by goethean at 9:20 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


The idea that anyone is going without Very Important Real News about Syria because of Miley Cyrus is silly.
posted by downing street memo at 9:21 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have no real comments on Syria outside of it being a complex situation I'm not going to presume to have an answer for.

I will say that the Onion's black and white hawkishness on the matter makes me dislike their stories on the matter quite a bit, even this one which is essentially on point about CNN.

RE: Miley, I don't know much about it, beyond the one side of the story that Billy Ray gave to GQ right around when she started turning the corner on being America's Sweetheart to America's Pariah (located here), but if it's true that it's her 'handlers' making most of the decisions, then this latest embarrassing performance seems likely to be a super cynical cash grab that Miley may or may not be in on. If she is in on it (as in: she knew how ridiculous her performance was on the VMAs and went along with it to generate revenue), well, whatever, that's as good or bad as any celebrity performance is in modern culture; if she's not in on it, and she has her handlers giving her deliberately embarrassing advice, and convincing her that the Elaine Bennis / Gene Simmons combo she did last night was anything other than low comedy then that's pretty fucked up, since she's what... 20? and God knows I'd have hated to be in that position at that age.

Regardless, however drugs or emotional issues factor into the equation, this isn't much more than a calculated business strategy. It's pretty standard playbook for any former squeaky clean teen star trying to capitalize to an older audience (exhibit A: Justin Bieber pissing into a fast food restaurant's mop bucket while flipping off the paparazzi earlier this year). Whether she's pulling the strings, or it's someone whispering in her ear and taking a cut of the profits, the interested parties care as much about cultural appropriation as a fish cares about bicycle repair techniques.

FWIW, I've been reading about Syria's use of chemical weapons in the Arabic-language press for some time now.

Indeed. This most recent push seems partially motivated by the American right to embarrass the current administration and capitalize regardless of what action/inaction they end up taking, caring very little concern about the end results. That's one of the things that pisses me off so much about the Onion's handling of the issue - it's playing directly into their hands.

Ah, so there you go, the connection between the two issues. Amoral assholes orchestrating meaningless theatrics across American media-space in order to extract as much money and power as possible from the situation.
posted by codacorolla at 9:22 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Did you see the bears?

Woah there, it's still the preseason, we have no idea how they'll do this year.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:22 AM on August 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


You mean the white minstrelry of Cyrus' act? Yeah, I'm with you.

Yes, exactly - that having an opinion about that is a political thing, and it's not inconsequential, and the idea that it's embarrassing or trivial or boring is just the usual line. ("Goodbye Politics, hello politics!" as Joanna Russ wrote of the feminist movement.)

Note that I am not saying that folks shouldn't talk about Syria, or that it isn't worthwhile to try to affect international policy - I'm just saying that doing that is a really long game and pretty difficult.
posted by Frowner at 9:22 AM on August 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


if this is all an elaborate conspiracy to make me feel bad about unironically switching my bony hips in delight every time I hear "Party in the U.S.A" it ain't gonna work.
posted by echocollate at 9:24 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The idea that anyone is going without Very Important Real News about Syria because of Miley Cyrus is silly.

Its not 'without', the correct phrase is 'less coverage', which has occurred in the past.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:24 AM on August 27, 2013


100% serious prediction: At least one major member of the conservative rage machine and/or member of Congress will make noise over the fact that the Breaking Bad finale is the day before:

Childish fits are basically all they have.

RNC Officials Vote Unanimously to Boycott CNN, NBC Debates Over Hillary Clinton Films
posted by Artw at 9:24 AM on August 27, 2013


Breaking bad gets a 2.5 share at best. Most people in america, hence most politicians, are probably unaware of it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:25 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Hey, I killed a bunch of people with nerve gas."

"You monster! I'm outraged."



"Hey, I can kill a full order of magnitude more civilians than I ever could with bombs and bullets in just a few hours!" is the next step. Chemical weapons scale up in a real fucking hurry.

"Hey, I've escalated to gassing Israel to try to widen the war to find some anti-Israel allies and increase support for my regime" is the next step after that.

Lots of bad mojo. No good options. Libyan-style no fly zone will be where the smart money lies. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Syria has modern air defenses - an air war will not be without price. Iran may decide to shut down the Strait of Hormuz in solidarity with Assad, which means Great Recession Part II for the global economy. Nothing good will come out of the aftermath of this in any event.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:26 AM on August 27, 2013


Its not 'without', the correct phrase is 'less coverage', which has occurred in the past.

Here, but one click away, is all the coverage one could ever want of the Syrian conflict. If people are actually interested in Syria, they can pretty readily find stories about it.
posted by downing street memo at 9:27 AM on August 27, 2013


(And let's not forget that US intervention has been fucked up, destructive and self-interested pretty much always, and that at least since Haiti, it's been conducted under the guise of liberal humanism but that hasn't stopped it being fucked up and destructive. If the choice turns out to be "lots of people die horribly" or "lots of people die horribly, many now and many later, in the service of US foreign policy interests", I'm going with option one. Both of them suck, but it's not as though we have at our disposal a heroic, thoughtful, compassionate and un-self-interested military body which will carefully do the right thing and then withdraw in a principled fashion. For pete's sake, remember how invading Iraq was going to fix things? Lots of left-leaning people bought into that - they were willing to accept the US interests part because they believed that we would genuinely rebuild Iraq and things would be great. I would infinitely rather that we could intervene to help people - if I believed that this would ever happen, I'd be cheering the soldiers and wearing yellow ribbons, I sincerely would. But that is not what happens.)
posted by Frowner at 9:28 AM on August 27, 2013 [22 favorites]


There was also a good interview on KPFA's Letters and Politics about Syria yesterday, if anyone's interested.
posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:29 AM on August 27, 2013


Here, but one click away, is all the coverage one could ever want of the Syrian conflict. If people are actually interested in Syria, they can pretty readily find stories about it.

The issue isn't the availablility of information, its the presence of information in media that one would not normally seek out. People watch CNN, less people read al-jazeera.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:31 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't worry Americans. Over here in Europe nobody really gives much of a flying fuck about Miley Cyrus twerking and, at least in the UK, Syria has dominated the news. I suspect it has elsewhere too.

Chemical weapons and ill-fated interventionist military action may be competing with the tight hot pants of a former child star but not here.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:31 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got some more Miley Cyrus news. She has a new verse on a Mike Will beat also in the studio French Montana on a Ain't Worried About Nothing remix.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:31 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The real issue is what does Genoa have to do with all this? Why won't news night release their sources? COUGH IT UP MCAVOY
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:32 AM on August 27, 2013


Alan Thicke must be so ashamed of his son, right now.


Who cares when you can hear about what his more talented parent has to say?

Robin Thicke's Mom Reacts to Miley Cyrus MTV VMA Performance: "I Don't Understand"
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:33 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


(I cut and paste that headline, but for the record, referring to Gloria Fucking Loring as "Robin Thicke's Mom" makes my skin crawl.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:33 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Syria issue is just plain depressing. We're seeing what, to me, looks disturbingly like the standard US march to war pre-show. Wild accusations of war crimes and human rights violations as an excuse to attack a country the government disapproves of, but which in countries the government approves of are never mentioned. A stern US warning to UN arms inspectors that we might start bombing at any moment so they'd better just give up on the inspection and leave. And absolutely no good end game in sight for when the inevitable war does start.

I see nothing good the US can do in Syria, and I see absolutely nothing that I as a US citizen can do to stop what, to me, looks like Obama recapitulating the same rush to start a random war that we've seen in so many other past presidents.

At this point we don't even know whether any gas was used, whether it was by the Syrian government, and Obama is doing his level best to chase the investigators out before they can tell us. We also haven't had anything even remotely resembling a national conversation over a) whethere there is **ANYTHING** at all the USA can do in Syria that will be beneficial, b) especially whether bombing the shit out of the country (as Obama is so plainly leading up to) will accomplish any useful goals, and c) what the USA's endgame for Syria is.

The opposition in Syria are not nice people. The vile dictator currently in power is not a nice person.

And I find myself having a similar dispair over the reaction to Cyrus. What the actual fuck is the problem? A young woman behaved in an overtly sexual way and acted a bit silly about it? That is supposed to be a controversy or a reason for scoffing, laughing, worrying, whatever? The same jackasses on the net who are currently wringing their hands over Cyrus were, a few days ago, fapping over upskirt shots some slimeball took of her. But now suddenly her sexuality is wrong?

It's a microcosm of all that's wrong with our patriarchal social norms for women and sexuality. If Cyrus hadn't been sexing things up she'd have been derided as frigid, or bitchy, or stuck up. But there is a tiny, narrow, little line of how much she is, by our social norms, expected to sex things up. She sexed it up too much so now she's a whore and a problem.

Meanwhile, Robin Thicke gets no hassle at all (save from a few of us internet feminists everyone hates anyway) for a totally misogynist song and dance number. He's a man, so his sexuality is never bad.

I think there is a linkage between the two stories: both reflect a social sickness that I am powerless to do anything at all about. Our nation will, very soon now, start bombing in Syria and it will continue to be a misogynist cesspit filled with self righteous jerks policing women's sexuality.
posted by sotonohito at 9:34 AM on August 27, 2013 [41 favorites]


The most important commentary on this topic occurred before it even happened, in the first 2 minutes of the VMA broadcast. Easily the best thing I've ever seen.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


>Chemical weapons and ill-fated interventionist military action may be competing with the tight hot pants of a former child star but not here.

No, but I'm guessing the whereabouts of a certain Tottenham footballer are probably providing some stiff competition.

Or not, I don't live in the UK, but I could without the 'Oh, Americans' eye-rolling.
posted by Tevin at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mostly agree with Frowner here - foreign policy is an elite game, played by elites, it always has been, and that's why actual people aren't terribly interested in it (unless it affects them in some way, which explains the Iraq War). The Syrian intervention, if it occurs, almost certainly will not involve ground troops. Most people can't point out Syria on the map because it doesn't really affect their lives in any serious way.

But, I also think the leftist lament over this is seriously misguided. What do you think would happen if we could wave a magic wand and, all of a sudden, the US general public were introduced to the life and times of Bashar Al-Assad? Do you seriously think support for a full ground invasion wouldn't double overnight? The idea that, if only the dastardly news media would stop covering Miley Cyrus and cover The Important Stuff, we'd have some kind of groundswell of pacifist sentiment is crazy.
posted by downing street memo at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


But to act like a fucking crime show about cool crimes is 1000000x more important than pop fluff is just really really pathetic.

As much as I agree with you 1000000% about pop and its relevance next to silly TV shows, the Nitpickers' Charter obliges me to add that it's a show about Walt's internalised, toxic masculinity driving him to inhabit a caricature of himself-as-Real-Man and systematically destroy everything genuinely good around him, and the fact that whatever portion of its fans honestly see it as Guy Stops Being A Pussy And Commits Cool Crimes is this perfect metafictional justification of all the show's actual themes.

sorry i will shut up about breaking bad now this thread already has more than enough disparate topics to reconcile
posted by emmtee at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


There won't be a full-scale intervention. No chance at all given the current geopolitical situation. There probably will be some missiles tossed in the general direction of Assad's forces as a "hey, cut it out" type of thing because it's quick, easy, doesn't require air superiority and perhaps most importantly lets everyone involved posture in the manner they deem appropriate.

Russia can be "outraged", Iran can be "considering all options", China can make noises about "consultation with all parties" and the EU/US can talk about "punishment." Win/win for the various powers involved, and some random guys in a battalion somewhere get blown up by a few hundred pounds of metal falling out of the sky on them for no particular reason except that they were conveniently located for the targeting systems.
posted by aramaic at 9:36 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Miley Cyrus? Wait until it's revealed that she is the long lost scion of the Achaemenid empire, abandoned to die in the mountains of Kentucky and then adopted by the country music singer who was tasked with her destruction.

And then it's onward to Iran, where this new Achmed Chalabi will be greeted with rose-petals and candies by the liberated Persian masses.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:39 AM on August 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


i'd like to offer, as a competing theory, a short list of reasons why the American people may be tuning out coverage of Syria:

1. Afghanistan
2. Iraq
3. Sunni vs. Shia
4. Somalia
5. Yemen
6. Israel vs. Palestine
7. Jews vs. Muslims
8. Muslims vs. Christians
9. Turkey vs. Kurdistan
10. Pakistan
11 Taliban
12. Al Qaeda
13. Libya
14. Egypt
15. Post-Arab Spring

I consider myself an engaged, concerned citizen of the planet, and I've stuffed my brain with the interminable gush of negativity from the Middle East for the last 13 years. Finally, I'm full. There's nothing I can do but turn my attention home, carefully tend my own acre, and hope with all my heart that that region is able to unfuck itself as soon as humanly possible and with the least amount of damage to the innocents living there. If that makes me a cynical, unsympathetic isolationist, so be it.
posted by echocollate at 9:39 AM on August 27, 2013 [34 favorites]


We do have a groundswell of non-intervention sentiment, in fact:

Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

posted by Noisy Pink Bubbles at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


No, but I'm guessing the whereabouts of a certain Tottenham footballer are probably providing some stiff competition.

Or not, I don't live in the UK, but I could without the 'Oh, Americans' eye-rolling.


Heh.

British news media is like the NHS - lots to complain about and everybody does, but everyone agrees theater at least it's better than what the US has.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't worry Americans. Over here in Europe nobody really gives much of a flying fuck about Miley Cyrus twerking and, at least in the UK, Syria has dominated the news. I suspect it has elsewhere too.

Miley Cyrus twerking is 'big news' in the entertainment sections of US news outlets, but it's simply untrue to suggest it is pushing Syria off the front pages here. There will be an awful lot of people out there who don't particularly follow the pop music world who would just look at you with a vague "I've hear that name somewhere" look if you mentioned Miley Cyrus to them today who will have read or watched a great deal about the Syria situation. If you want a more realistic sense of how the US "news media" are responding to these two great crises of our day, go click on nytimes.com: Syria is the top story. CTRL-F "miley" or "cyrus" finds nothing.
posted by yoink at 9:41 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


emmtee : Did you hear that Gaga song? Lots of deep shit going on there too. My point is just: Sure, be a fan of BB, but other people are fans of things for intellectual reasons too, including (some) pop music.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:41 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Miley Cyrus twerking is 'big news' in the entertainment sections of US news outlets

And the front pages of CNN.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:44 AM on August 27, 2013


But, I also think the leftist lament over this is seriously misguided.

Ah, yes. Noted leftists Meghan "leave my dad alone!" McCain and Dylan "Nate Silver is a plant for the Obama campaign" Byers. Truly the flagbearers for the new progressive movement.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:44 AM on August 27, 2013


And the front pages of CNN.

Maybe briefly. Go click on cnn.com right now, though. Syria is big bold headlines. Miley Cyrus is teeny tiny "click to see more" teasers.
posted by yoink at 9:46 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


We do have a groundswell of non-intervention sentiment, in fact:

Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria's government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says.

About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria's civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.


Foreign policy polls are meaningless, particularly before elites make their case (FP tends to be one area where sentiment is tribal, not ideological, and if the tribal leader endorses a position, so do his followers). If Obama goes on TV tonight, speaks to the country and the "news analysis" shows the youtube clips of gassed babies and massacres of 30-40 people that the rebels have been taking and sending to Jazeera, we'd be at 50/50 tomorrow.
posted by downing street memo at 9:46 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


My point is just: Sure, be a fan of BB, but other people are fans of things for intellectual reasons too, including (some) pop music.

*internet high-five intensifies*
posted by emmtee at 9:47 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


...while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.

I'm assuming the 9% could not provide an example of what sort of action Obama should take that doesn't end-up with US forces shooting at Russian forces.

I think what's happening in Syria is heartbreaking and horrible, but I just cannot see any meaningful military action the US can take that doesn't lead to a quagmire that will make Iraq and Afghanistan seem like trips to DisneyWorld.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:48 AM on August 27, 2013


One of my coworkers has set "Blurred Lines" as his ringtone. Hearing his phone go off is the musical equivalent of a fart in an elevator, and his coy reaction to it ("oh, is that MY phone?") only makes it worse.
posted by pxe2000 at 9:49 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Miley's inspiration.
posted by DynamiteToast at 9:49 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


but I could without the 'Oh, Americans' eye-rolling.

If you're that easily wound up then go to another thread. A key theme of the FPP is the role of the American media in distracting attention.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:50 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone raised their hand and asked us whether our debate would actually make any difference in what would happen in Syria, whether we had any meaningful way to influence US policy on this point.

This. For most of us slobs, it really doesn't matter whether we eat our vegs and watch the evening news dutifully, our opinions don't count anyway, so we might as well watch Hannah Montana work out her daddy issues on stage.

Unless you're a Beltway insider or part of the Westminster bubble (or equivalent), the serious news is not aimed at convincing or informing you.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm assuming the 9% could not provide an example of what sort of action Obama should take that doesn't end-up with US forces shooting at Russian forces.

Why would Russian forces start shooting at U.S. forces? Russia isn't crazy.
posted by Dasein at 9:51 AM on August 27, 2013


Yes, Russia isn't crazy. Don't call them crazy everyone. They hate it when you call them crazy. They REALLY REALLY HATE IT. THEY WILL FUCKING BITE OFF YOUR DICK IF YOU CALL THEM CRAZY.

They are just upset right now.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:54 AM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Somehow I think the meaning of "intervention" has taken a very large turn from what I thought it meant.

I guess intervention now means killing a bunch of people from afar and watching them die on drone-tv.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:55 AM on August 27, 2013


What vehicle is there for expressing popular will on this point? What organizations exist to mobilize ordinary people? Will we have street protests? I've been to all kinds of street protests about various US interventions over the years, and they're pretty ragtag.

Yeah, let's not forget either that the last time we had those "very particular circumstances" Frowner mentions, it was the War on Iraq and we had millions marching in the US, two fucking million in London and many more all over Europe and it achieved nothing.

Before that, there were the mass protests about the stationing of cruise missiles and general heating up off the Cold War in Europe, including the largest political demonstrations ever in the Netherlands, which again mattered little.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:57 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


And the front pages of CNN.

There are 100+ links to articles on the front page of CNN.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, it's CNN.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:59 AM on August 27, 2013


I had not heard a damned thing about Miley Cyrus until this post.

So I gather you put on stage a guy who's most recent video is of a bunch of naked women hanging off him, along with a former child-star who's "thing" recently has been twerking and playing up the sexy, and we're all going to act shocked and disgusted that it was all aggressively sexified?

Anyways, I don't think the media is distracting anyone with this. The media loves sexy sex celebrity stuff because people love sexy sex celebrity stuff. This is giving people what they want. I think a lot of people are not interested in focusing on what's happening in Syria for any number of reasons. I'm not going to judge; I no longer particularly care to focus a huge amount of effort into details of terrible things I have no control over. The collective insanity of the last 12-ish years has burned me out pretty bad, too.

let's not forget either that the last time we had those "very particular circumstances" Frowner mentions, it was the War on Iraq and we had millions marching in the US, two fucking million in London and many more all over Europe and it achieved nothing.

Fuck don't I know it. But then Occupy changed everything.
posted by Hoopo at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2013


Justin Bieber pissing into a fast food restaurant's mop bucket while flipping off the paparazzi earlier this year

I feel dumber just from having read that assemblage of words.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also, it's CNN.

Right -- if you say, "I get my news online now" and you get it from a network that has a website, you are not saying the same thing as the rest of us snobs.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:01 AM on August 27, 2013


Relevant Tumblr: Miley Cyrus Twerking On Things We Should Talk About
posted by koeselitz at 10:05 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, there is a sense in which the VMA's are pretty important, even in terms of global politics. Someone said Al-Qaeda? Have you heard of Sayyid Qutb's The America I Have Seen? (previously on MeFi)
Human society has long struggled to build and forge sexual mores. It has regulated these relations, emotions, and feelings, and struggled against the coarseness of sensation and the gloominess of natural impulse, in order to let genuine relationships fly about, and free-ranging longings soar high unfettered, along with all the strong ties around these relationships, in the feelings of individuals, in the life of the family, and in society at large. [...]

The American girl is well acquainted with her body's seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs and she shows all this and does not hide it. She knows it lies in clothes: in bright colors that awaken primal sensations, and in designs that reveal the temptations of the body—and in American girls these are sometimes live, screaming temptations! Then she adds to all this the fetching laugh, the naked looks, and the bold moves, and she does not ignore this for one moment or forget it!
Of course, "Osama bin Laden is reported to have regularly attended weekly public lectures by Muhammad Qutb, at King Abdulaziz University, and to have read and been deeply influenced by Sayyid Qutb." This stuff runs deep. Dismissing it as just gossip about entertainment seems to ignore the complexity and enormity of sexual ethics especially in connection with religion. Of course, the mainstream media isn't exactly intelligent about it, either.
posted by mbrock at 10:05 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


> If you're that easily wound up then go to another thread. A key theme of the FPP is the role of the American media in distracting attention.

Annoyed, not wound up.

You introduced UK media into the conversation as a point of comparison, so we ought to be as honest as possible about what we're actually comparing. I am 100% in favor of criticizing the ridiculous tendencies of American media and culture (of which there are many) but to act like the UK is above such ridiculousness is, well, ridiculous.
posted by Tevin at 10:06 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Solidarity Is For Miley Cyrus: The Racial Implications of Her VMA Performance (really good)
posted by litleozy at 10:09 AM on August 27, 2013 [19 favorites]


We want topless women in our music videos/
We want pop stars acting like they’re in a porno/
You know we want it and get what we asked for/
But then Miley does it, we say OH MY GOD NO.

posted by T.D. Strange at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I generally find the "Pick one, Issue A vs. Issue B" framing to be annoying. Most of us can walk and chew gum. We can also look at criticism of both the culture we swim in and its foreign policy.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 10:11 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Is this any different than newspapers in the past?

I'm pretty sure that the exploits of Gloria Vanderbilt were front page news.

Oh to be in grad school...I'd love to do a study of the front pages of several large newspapers from pre WWI to the advent of television news and see what the ratio in column inches or headlines was for Actual News vs $RICH_PERSON_SOCIETY_DRAMA and compare that to some sort of figure from today.

I agree that Syria is more important. And Miley's performance was also important, but for very different reasons, none of which are being talked about in MSM AFAICT.

I just want to know if we've gotten any better or if it's always been like this.
posted by sio42 at 10:15 AM on August 27, 2013


FWIW, I've been reading about Syria's use of chemical weapons in the Arabic-language press for some time now.

Yep, so have I. The BBC has been reporting it for ages (can't remember the exact time, but it's been more than a month and a half) and the Army's saying the rebels are using gas weapons looted from Army stores they've overrun, and the rebels are saying that the Army's using the gas against the rebel forces and if any civilians get in the way then they were rebels too.

There was no proof of what type of gas it was, no debris analyzation, or proof of which side delivered the gas to the victims and how they did it (Army gassing rebels or rebels gassing rebels to make the Army look bad - yep. heard that line for a week, at least). There's no independent verification and basically some dead people and the two sides shouting and pointing fingers.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:18 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the strangest thread I've read through in a long time. My poor linear brain is having difficulty filtering the two conversations. The simultaneous thoughts of gassed children and celebrity gossip is screwing with my head.
posted by Popular Ethics at 10:23 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


this thread is like a family dinner where 1/3 are het up about one thing, 1/3 are het up about another, and 1/3 are staring at their food and developing an eating disorder
posted by angrycat at 10:27 AM on August 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


That article litleozy linked to put its finger on what irked me about Miley Cyrus' performance:
From her insistence on twerking, to her use of all black women as literal props (they were teddy bears) to her smacking of her dancer's ass and the simulation of rimming, it is very clear to me, that Miley thinks that black women's bodies are to be enjoyed, devalued and put on display for entertainment purposes.
Like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aquilera before her, she's yet another white pop singer who's trying to reinvigorate her career by liberal borrowing from a Black culture form she previously had little or no affection for, to gain legitimacy as a proper artist in the process. That tendency in mainstream western culture is perhaps just as important as what happens in Syria.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:28 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


but they're basically the same as yer average MacDonalds:

phrased as though McDonald's and its toxic food (and worse marketing) hasn't done far more to destroy all that's good and true about the great western dream (not to mention killed magnitudes more people) than Al Qaeda and all of its offshoots could ever hope to accomplish with their guns and bombs and hijacked airplanes.
posted by philip-random at 10:29 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the strangest thread I've read through in a long time. My poor linear brain is having difficulty filtering the two conversations. The simultaneous thoughts of gassed children and celebrity gossip is screwing with my head.

Add to that the cognitive dissonance of the mingled "How could this IMPORTANT STORY be displaced by POP PRINCESS TRIVIA!" thread and the "OMG, Miley Cyrus's performance is a SIGNIFICANT MOMENT in US RACIAL DISCOURSE!" thread (not to forget the "Breaking Bad is cool" obbligato) and there is a weirdly brain-scrambling quality to it. I'm beginning to think that Miley Cyrus gassed the audience at the VMA awards and that the US is debating whether or not to start twerking in Syria.
posted by yoink at 10:31 AM on August 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


I think Miley looked like she was genuinely enjoying herself, which can be a dangerous and incomputable thing for a young woman, more so in the entertainment industry, and has contributed to the misogynist explosion.

Honestly, it's a song and dance act and she performs.

A couple of hundred years ago people used to be unable to comprehend that a woman who performed on the stage as an actor (scandal!) might not actually be a prostitute or some version of the uncontrollable force she was presenting on stage.

Nobody accuses action movie actors of being the immoral killing machines they portray on film, all outraged. Why is Miley uniquely responsible for the act she presents in order to entertain us for a few minutes?
posted by colie at 10:32 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I enjoy her. She's funny, she's self-deprecating, she's actually pretty well spoken. And she's laughing all the way to the bank over America's collective pearl clutching.

Regarding Syria? We are just plain tired and not looking forward to our President dragging us into another unfunded Middle East quagmire. Miley was a fun distraction.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:32 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's kind of a killing joke that omg!sex is given higher priorities than dead children, but I'm sure with little effort one could find evidence that this is a repetitive action as sex/outrage is a good distraction from foreign policies and collateral damage.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:33 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Miley has either lost her mind or has achieved a higher state of consciousness. "But what is the difference?" asks the pink pedobear. "Get out of my kitchen" I mutter, driving the orange carrot slowly through the moldy hummus.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:35 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


driving the orange carrot slowly through the moldy hummus

If that's what the kids are calling it these days I just don't want to know.
posted by yoink at 10:36 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


And underneath all the cognitive dissonance is the realisation that the left currently is at a weak point in its history and has retreated from concrete action and attempts to change history through traditional means like unions, political parties and mass movements in general, into a much more individualistic outlook which foregrounds more "softer" sociological issues like the racial undertones of pop culture and the civil rights/social justice attempts to make capitalism safe for LGBT people, which while worthwhile may not threaten existing power structures all that much.

And the debate whether this is actually true or just the same old cod marxist folderol spouted by people who still haven't come to terms with the fact the revolution didn't arrive in 1973.
posted by MartinWisse at 10:37 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't really mind the twerking; that's standard slut stuff that makes sense if she's acting out and trying to show us all how "sexy" she is. What blew my mind was the tongue action. Seriously, is there anyone on Earth who thinks that's attractive? Buzzfeed gifs #1-3 are the stuff of nightmares.
posted by jlh at 10:39 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Indeed, Popular Ethics. I'm reminded of Martin Amis' London Fields in which The Crisis loomed (ecological disaster/nuclear war somehow linked to the American First Lady's health), while the players onstage went about their business.
posted by notyou at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


More and more evidence is emerging that, like it's conventional weapons, the chemical weapons used by Iraq against Iran were US supplied.

According to the link, the US didn't supply the weapons, but they did give the Iraqis intelligence about Iranian troop movements knowing that the Iraqis were likely to use chemical weapons.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2013


The most humane thing would be to ritually sacrifice all child stars upon their 18th birthday. Bonus, we also keep the angry elder gods satiated, and less likely to devour humanity as a whole.
posted by idiopath at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Like Justin Timberlake and Christina Aquilera before her, she's yet another white pop singer who's trying to reinvigorate her career by liberal borrowing from a Black culture form she previously had little or no affection for, to gain legitimacy as a proper artist in the process. "

I could have sworn Timberlake had been made an honorary black person, let me check the meeting notes...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


A Shattered Nation Longs To Care About Stupid Bullshit Again [Onion]
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2013


Honestly, sex and celebrity gossip have always been more attention-getting than serious stuff. For no other reason than "human nature". It was ever thus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 AM on August 27, 2013


The most humane thing would be to ritually sacrifice all child stars upon their 18th birthday. Bonus, we also keep the angry elder gods satiated, and less likely to devour humanity as a whole.

or just toss them into the food chain somewhere. Secret ingredient of Soylent Yellow or whatever. I mean, we're already eating them figuratively.
posted by philip-random at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have recently discovered a simple solution to the US Media Problem:

Al-Jazeera America

Seriously.
posted by scrump at 10:43 AM on August 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


Did anybody see Elvis on Ed Sullivan last night gyrating and caterwauling like a negro? It was shameful, sexual perversion. I shall write a letter to the editor post haste.
posted by echocollate at 10:44 AM on August 27, 2013 [16 favorites]


You'll note that nobody questions that Mumfird and sons is a war crime.
posted by Artw at 10:45 AM on August 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


For shame sir, you should be paying more attention to the insidious Red threat in Indochine! Why I hear those dreadful Viet Kongs were on the rampage just last night.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:46 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Miley twerking on things we should care about

posted by daHIFI at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


You'll note that nobody questions that Mumfird and sons is a war crime.

It's like that Hitler joke about 6 million Jews and 1 clown.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't feel qualified to comment on the geopolitical ramifications, or it's impact on discourse, racial or otherwise. On an artistic level I believe she owes a debt to Lil' Debbie's recent work, entitled Ratchets.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:47 AM on August 27, 2013


Selina Gomez is the real victim here. She thought she'd generate a stir with that racy top she wore on the VMA red carpet, only to watch helplessly as Miley Cyrus' "moral obscenity" seized all the cycles.
posted by notyou at 10:48 AM on August 27, 2013


On an artistic level I believe she owes a debt to Lil' Debbie's recent work, entitled Ratchets.


Yo, Miley, Imma let you finish, but Kreayshawn is the greatest cultural appropriator of all time.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 10:50 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


but to act like the UK is above such ridiculousness is, well, ridiculous.

Well, I wasn't suggesting it was entirely above ridiculousness. That's your introduction on my behalf. We have a tabloid press, after all.

However I'm happy to make the comparison: the UK has a class leading state broadcaster which, in addition to generally doing a good job of covering and prioritising serious stories often also sets the agenda for ITN and Sky News. We still, just about, have four broadsheet newspapers.

The quality of news provision, and specifically the quantity of coverage of serious international news is higher than that in the US by some margin, notwithstanding that the US has More domestic news to cover.

But back to he point: we're also not agonising on this specific issue about whether our coverage of Miley Cyrus is detracting from coverage of Syria.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:50 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The costs of Syrian intervention are really staggering to consider. The cruise missiles required to take out their air defenses alone will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, probably into the billions, at ~$1 million apiece. This doesn't get into the cost of the other weapons, logistics, maintenance, etc. What happens if Syria, with the help of their access to Russian technology, gets lucky a few times and shoots down a stealth plane? That could be 3/4 of a billion dollars right there. Meanwhile, we don't have money to fully fund any number of legitimately beneficial domestic programs.

The potential human costs greatly exceed the expense of the military operation itself, but this seems to have ceased to be a compelling argument long ago.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


And underneath all the cognitive dissonance is the realisation that the left currently is at a weak point in its history and has retreated from concrete action and attempts to change history

No doubt, but on Syria there's also the problem that the left (like pretty much everyone else) really doesn't have a clue what it thinks ought to be done or not done. I mean, over the years "the left" has wrung its hands pretty hard about failing to intervene when nasty people are killing large numbers of innocent civilians. In fact "isolationism" has typically been an insult hurled by the left against the non-interventionist right.

Syria strikes me as one of those "problems from hell." I'm mostly on the side of non-intervention (because I just don't see a clear path to "making things better" via military intervention). But reasonably large-scale ethnic cleansing probably lies ahead down that road (it may well lie ahead down ALL roads, of course). I'm glad I don't have to make the decision about whether or not to intervene in Syria. Whatever shitstorm lies ahead in either scenario (intervention or non) there will be plenty of people happy to forget whatever course they were advocating now and eager to pile on with the "judgment of history" as to the folly and moral blindness of the President's action--or inaction.

If you avert a genocide by acting before the genocide happens you look like a bully. If you wait until after it has happened you look like a moral coward. History doesn't allow you the luxury of running a control to test whether or not your choices improved things more than they harmed them.
posted by yoink at 10:52 AM on August 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


And here I was thinking that the Syria stuff was to keep us distracted from the domestic economic mess.

Anyway, this is silly. Why assume that the American audience interested in La Cyrus would otherwise be interested in the ongoing tragedy in Syria? All she did was to attract the attention to the easily bored. Absent her nonsense, they would have gone to ESPN and HBO.

But if you really want to have a majority of Americans focus on foreign policy, then bring back the draft.

And not just a little bit. Make it mandatory for all citizens age, say, 18 to 40 (and what the hell, green-carders and the un-documenteds as well), abolish all deferments, accept no excuses short of quadriplegia, and make certain that, should police action ever break out, everyone so drafted will at some point cycled into harm's way. No sitting it out in Kaneohi, Hawaii, you will be shipped off to the hornets' nest eventually.

(Don't give me practical objections, please. Clearly this is satire.

Well, mostly....)
posted by IndigoJones at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


what's sort of curious to me is, what is up with Assad's reasoning in the use of the weapons? I mean, it wasn't some sort of, 'aha, this strategic gambit will pay off' kind of thing, right? Is he pretty rationally all, 'well, y'all didn't care when i was slaughtering people in other ways, so...'?
posted by angrycat at 11:00 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is he pretty rationally all, 'well, y'all didn't care when i was slaughtering people in other ways, so...'?

It's probably a black ops thing. 'ZOMFG-WMD-gassing-his-own-people' was pretty much the only propaganda thing they could come up with last time around.
posted by colie at 11:03 AM on August 27, 2013


what's sort of curious to me is, what is up with Assad's reasoning in the use of the weapons?

Maybe the apple just doesn't fall far from the tree.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 11:05 AM on August 27, 2013


The trouble with this sort of framing is, first of all, the presumption that Cyrus's performance is something we shouldn't care about, and, secondly, that because we care about it, we don't care about what happened in Syria.

I mean, there is a valuable discussion to be had about the differences between Macklemore and Cyrus's performance. That, whatever his failings, Macklemore really seems to be trying to communicate complex ideas. That his performance took aim at two of his communities -- the rap community and the evangelical community -- and told them in plain language that they were preaching intolerance. That he did this on a small stage, surrounded by a few audience members and surrounded by American flags, like this was a tent revival meeting or a small political gathering, and that the structure of the staging was such that it was sometimes hard to tell who was supposed to be the center of attention; he was sharing the stage with his fellow performers in a way that felt democratic, as though any of them could step forward and be the featured performer at any moment, and they did. That his performance ended by highlighting an African American performer and an LGBT performer while he quietly receded into the background.

Cyrus, in the meanwhile, built a giant mess, with teddy bears whose only point seemed to be to create a visual spectacle, but nothing more. I mean, the bears did nothing. They represented nothing. And she used African-American women with huge teddy bear backpacks as props, with them generally not even in the frame, and at one point literally used one as a sexual prop -- consistent with criticisms that have repeatedly been leveled against her. In fact, when her real performance began, she abandoned her backup dancers in favor of a fashion-show styled runway that thrust her, singly, out into the audience, and Robin Thicke literally had to walk out onto the walkway awkwardly to get to her.

These are useful discussions about how race, sexuality, and gender are represented in public and in the arts. And, yeah, there are jusrt a lot of jokes about twerking on social media. I am not sure that the people who are using the VMAs an an opportunity just to sexually mock Miley Cyrus and ignore Macklemore are the sort of people we should be mourning when they don't tackle gassing in Syria.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


I attribute Assad's reasoning not to Syria's justification but to Russia's. I think the contained and hard-to-prove crossing of the so-called bright lines set up by the West is Russia's way of challenging Western power.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2013


I think it's really easy to slip into the Western narrative of Russia as largely passive participant when clearly they have their own motivations and designs on the outcome of Syrian conflict. It really seems very much like the proxy wars of the Cold War.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


But if you really want to have a majority of Americans focus on foreign policy, then bring back the draft.

I never really get this argument. The US has been less willing to use its military since it stopped the draft, not more. The Vietnam war remained more popular among people of draft age throughout the conflict than among the elderly. In fact, there was always at least a plurality of support for the Vietnam war among people of draft age throughout the conflict. Not only that, but draft status had no effect on rates of support for the war. Not only that, a large majority of those deployed in Vietnam were actually volunteers, not draftees. There simply isn't any evidence to support this endlessly repeated claim that having a draft automatically "concentrates the mind" of the public and makes it consistently dovish. War is often a popular policy, even when it means sending "our boys" off to die.
posted by yoink at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Potomac Avenue: "It must remembered that the Syrian opposition basically are Al Queda.

Or, if you are a complete dumbass like me, learned for the first time.
"

Huh - wonder why that would be... It's not cuz you're a dumbass, but that, shall we say, certain factions (and by "faction" I mean the entire political establishment of the US of A) do not want you to know about the Al-Qaeda connection for it would belie our claims vs intents?
posted by symbioid at 11:07 AM on August 27, 2013


I have recently discovered a simple solution to the US Media Problem:

Al-Jazeera America


Al-Jazeera America, website and channel, are outstanding. It was the only thing I watched during the Dzhokar Tsarnaev manhunt because I was so disgusted by the misreporting by, basically everyone else.

Too bad too many people just hear "Al-Jazeera" and think "9-11" and "Al-Qaeda" and "those are the guys what done it"
posted by sweetkid at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


the entire political establishment of the US of A) do not want you to know about the Al-Qaeda connection

Wut?
posted by yoink at 11:09 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Spoiler alert: even if there is whitewashing of facts going on I am still a dumbass.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't see her whole performance, but what I did see during the blurred lines performance was NOT twerking. That was just common grinding.

I mean, where are the standards? Who will think about the standards of twerking?
posted by hal_c_on at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Too bad too many people just hear "Al-Jazeera" and think "9-11" and "Al-Qaeda" and "those are the guys what done it"

I have had previously rational friends tell me, upon hearing that I think Al Jazeera is an excellent news source, that "we (jews) can't trust those arabs". It was like a horrible unwanted time machine to 1980.

I'm glad to have another method of weeding out the ignorant people, though.
posted by elizardbits at 11:12 AM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


It must remembered that the Syrian opposition basically are Al Queda.

The Syrian Democratic People's Party is Al-Qaeda? The Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians is Al-Qaeda? The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front is Al-Qaeda? The Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution is Al-Qaeda? The Kurdish Supreme Committee is Al-Qaeda? The National Salvation Front in Syria is Al-Qaeda? The Syrian Revolution General Commission is Al-Qaeda? The Idlib Martyrs' Brigade is Al-Qaeda? The Assyrian Democratic Organization is Al-Qaeda? The Syriac Union Party is Al-Qaeda? The Syrian Islamic Front is Al-Qaeda? The National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (and, as an umbrella organisation, its numerous parties below) is Al-Qaeda?
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


There simply isn't any evidence to support this endlessly repeated claim that having a draft automatically "concentrates the mind" of the public and makes it consistently dovish.

Yes there is: "Using an original survey experiment, we find strong support for the argument that conscription decreases mass support for war, a finding that replicates in several different settings. We also show that these findings are driven by concerns about self-interest, consistent with our theory. We conclude by discussing the relevance of these findings for debates about how domestic political conditions influence when states go to war."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:15 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my coworkers has set "Blurred Lines" as his ringtone. Hearing his phone go off is the musical equivalent of a fart in an elevator, and his coy reaction to it ("oh, is that MY phone?") only makes it worse.

I don't even know your co-worker, and I hate that guy.
posted by jennaratrix at 11:15 AM on August 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


The draft happens to everyone, which means you can rationalize that it'll never happen to you. I think if we really want to focus attention, it has to become about money. We need some sort of pay-as-you-go method of funding defense appropriations so that people can see just how much money is being spent on them. Make it a line item on taxes: you pay income tax, social security/medicare taxes, and war (sorry, "defense") tax. Obviously there are many reasons why such a simple system isn't practicable (if WW3 hits, you need to be able to spend as much as you can get your hands on, etc.) so I am really just throwing this out there by way of example, but I think a connection to the bottom line is the only way to make headway on foreign policy in today's messed up political climate.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:16 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Al Jazeera needs to rebrand itself for the US market, as sad as that sounds - They're already known as "JSC" in some markets (Jazeera Satellite Channel, Jazeera being "Island," regional slang for the Arabian Peninsula.) That would probably go over better with those who only know about Al Jazeera from their right-wing relatives' rantings.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:17 AM on August 27, 2013


Yes there is: "Using an original survey experiment

Fine--in "online surveys" people dislike hypothetical wars they might hypothetically be involved in more than they dislike hypothetical wars they won't hypothetically be involved in. For some reason I find that less compelling evidence than what has actually happened in real life.
posted by yoink at 11:18 AM on August 27, 2013


The draft happens to everyone

Uh, it does?

The Draft would only effect men 18-35, not everyone.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:20 AM on August 27, 2013


There simply isn't any evidence to support this endlessly repeated claim that having a draft automatically "concentrates the mind" of the public

I thought the problem with the draft, after Vietnam, was that you couldn't send a bunch of drafted kids who'd been totally traumatised and head-fucked beyond belief back straight into society afterwards without disrupting the whole 'God Bless Our Troops' bullshit?

A paid permanent army of psychopaths (many working for the private sector) makes everything so much easier to manage before during and after a war, and the general public don't have to get so involved in the hideousness of it all, so are more happy to wave little flags etc.
posted by colie at 11:21 AM on August 27, 2013


Al-Nusra Front to target Alawite faith, Assad 'over chemical attacks'
posted by Artw at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2013


Right, I meant everyone who is registered for the draft. If it's a concern for you, you're not exactly in a small peer group.
posted by feloniousmonk at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2013


Artw: It must remembered that the Syrian opposition basically are Al Queda.

Potomac Avenue: Or, if you are a complete dumbass like me, learned for the first time.

The make-up of those opposing Assad has changed since the conflict that lead to a full-out civil war started in 2011.
In the early days the situation was not so gray, it was pretty black and white from where my director, Wael Dabbous, and I saw it. Unarmed protesters and dissidents were being tortured and murdered.

That has changed, much to Assad’s delight. Many of the men who helped us are now dead. Good men, peaceful men who believed they were standing up for what was right. Most of the ones who are still alive are now armed. Farmers, dentists, doctors, businessmen — ordinary family men who had never held guns in their lives. The growing vacuum of security and power in parts of the country has made way for extremists and criminal opportunists as real “terrorists” have flooded the country. As the world wrung its hands wondering what to do, Assad’s assertions [that he was "fighting crazed jihadis"] became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It's been a slow and unclear transition, and unless you've been paying attention to the scattered news reports for what is going on two years, it can be hard to keep track of the changes.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:25 AM on August 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


I thought the problem with the draft, after Vietnam, was that you couldn't send a bunch of drafted kids who'd been totally traumatised and head-fucked beyond belief back straight into society afterwards without disrupting the whole 'God Bless Our Troops' bullshit?

Not to minimize the problems of PTSD among Vietnam vets, but the "crazed Vietnam vet" thing is mostly a myth. Vietnam veterans as a group have tended to perform better on most indices of "success" in life than a random comparative cohort (i.e., less unemployment, less homelessness, lower suicide rates etc. etc.). We notice the outlying cases because they're dramatic, but the notion that sending thousands of kids to Vietnam created a dangerously "traumatized" population is basically nonsense.

A paid permanent army of psychopaths


Eyes roll, fall out of head, roll across floor.
posted by yoink at 11:29 AM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


US airstrikes plus the ongoing NSA thing probably pretty much sap Democratic voter enthusiasm and turnout in next year's mid-terms (we're already transitioning to Obama's Lame Duckitude, folks; what's Obama's second term accomplished so far?), and the Dampening perhaps lingers long enough for Democratic Presidential candidates to look for distance between themselves and the outgoing guy (depending on future events, additional presidential credibility undercutters).
posted by notyou at 11:29 AM on August 27, 2013


Fine--in "online surveys" people dislike hypothetical wars they might hypothetically be involved in more than they dislike hypothetical wars they won't hypothetically be involved in. For some reason I find that less compelling evidence than what has actually happened in real life.

No one said anything about online surveys. These were survey experiments. Moreover, there is other evidence. cf. Joseph Vasquez, ‘‘Shouldering the Soldiering: Democracy,
Conscription, and Military Casualties.’’ Journal of Conflict
Resolution 49 (6): 849–73.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2013


sending thousands of kids to Vietnam created a dangerously "traumatized" population is basically nonsense.

Well it certainly contributed to a cultural shift that for many years softened some of the God bless the army bullshit that is probably one of the USA's biggest problems.
posted by colie at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2013


@MartinWisse, thank you for that link. My white privilege blinded me to anything but the sexism involved in the handwringing over Cyrus' performance, and I had completely ignored the racism in the performance itself (though, to be fair to myself, I hadn't watched the video and the stills I have seen omitted the black women so I wasn't aware of her use of black women as props until I read the article you linked).

As a guy advocating intersectional feminism I've let myself down.
posted by sotonohito at 11:35 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


> But does the media coverage of Cyrus' twerking help Bashar Al-assad get away with murder?

Yes. The vast majority of people have no idea that Europe converted from power politics to value politics in the past two decades. They don't know that the US coasts have too, nor that the US is locked in a post-nationalist/nationalist dynamic. They also do not know what it's like in the State department, where the US will be criticized for not helping Syrians if it doesn't, AND for helping them if it does. The result is that the government is playing a game that the vast majority of citizens don't even know it's playing, forcing it to fight to even participate in that game. What's even worse is that the military will privately tell you they are freaked because dropping some bombs on a place will rarely cause the substantive changes needed to make places like Syria or Yemen safe. But the government can't focus on that because its too busy maintaining the value politics/post-nationalist game to see through a proper strategy. If the public was actually knowledgeable they could at least form campaigns to see through the things the military can't do and wants to see happen, such as funding social and health programs in these areas. The best I could come up with was setting up freaking Kiva campaigns. At least loans in Sana'a, Yemen are getting funded. It's sandwiched between two Yemeni provinces with the highest drone strikes, so fostering job creation there would actually help provide jobs other than becoming a radical. There's a Metafilter team on Kiva too.

So yes, Miley is part of the problem. People aren't paying attention to the real news, have no idea what is going on, and is blunting the government's strategies as a result. But really, it comes down to all of us because we're the folks the marketers and government are addressing. The folks working to correct the situation are having to go long as a result. That's why you'll see the US orgs like Represent.Us, mini lectures on approval voting, Olympia's List, the Bipartisan Policy Center, American's Elect, and Restore the Fourth. Maybe they'll pan out, maybe they won't, but that's the situation. I didn't realize how bad it was until I heard the Q&A of General McCaffery's speech at Norwich. It was just weird to hear a solutions based approach to political problems. People in the government don't do that anymore... and that's scary!
posted by jwells at 11:35 AM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The vast majority of people have no idea that Europe converted from power politics to value politics in the past two decades. They don't know that the US coasts have too

Not Jersey Shore too!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2013


Bunny Ultramod: I am not sure that the people who are using the VMAs an an opportunity just to sexually mock Miley Cyrus and ignore Macklemore are the sort of people we should be mourning when they don't tackle gassing in Syria.

I think the issue is that Miley got top billing on sites that claim to represent Breaking News of the World. The Onion nailed it: news media, by and large, has fallen to appealing to the lowest common denominator in an attempt to literally cash in on any trend. So even if you're not someone who is interested in "sexually mocking" Miley Cyrus, there she is, top and center, with other stories moved out of the way.

One question: what population of people generally tweet about important news? Daniel W. Drezner, attorney at law journalist, laments When twerking "crowds out" the Syria debate.... and cites ... twitter trends. Have there been studies to really correlate twitter trends with broader social discussions? Lots of very smart, savvy people I know don't have twitter accounts, so these trends discount them. Sure, that's only my anecdotal evidence, but I still fail to see twitter as a record of some national consciousness.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:39 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


These were survey experiments

Sorry, "online" somehow collocated with "survey" in my brain. Nonetheless, I remain much less convinced by what people will say about a hypothetical case of hypothetical war than what happened in reality.
posted by yoink at 11:39 AM on August 27, 2013


One question: what population of people generally tweet about important news? Daniel W. Drezner, attorney at law journalist, laments When twerking "crowds out" the Syria debate.... and cites ... twitter trends. Have there been studies to really correlate twitter trends with broader social discussions? Lots of very smart, savvy people I know don't have twitter accounts, so these trends discount them. Sure, that's only my anecdotal evidence, but I still fail to see twitter as a record of some national consciousness.

Did you even read the link that you are citing here?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Daniel W. Drezner, journalist, laments When twerking "crowds out" the Syria debate.... and cites ... twitter trends.

CNN gave news coverage to Batfleck twitter trending...

Now that would be even more depressing as a comparison.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on August 27, 2013


I wonder how many people who are enamored with consuming media about Miley Cyrus, the Kardashians, etc would otherwise be consumers of actual news?

The presumption seems to be that people tune into the media for "news" but what they get instead is "Miley Cyrus" instead of the news that they'd otherwise watch. I'm hypothesizing that there are many people who are tuning into the media for "Miley Cyrus" and wouldn't tune it at all if what they got instead was actually "news."
posted by MoonOrb at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"The US faces failure just like in all the previous wars they waged, starting with Vietnam and up to our days," he [Assad] said.

"America has taken part in many wars but could not once achieve its political goals for which the wars were started. Yes, it is true, the great powers can wage wars but can they win them?" he asked.

Assad says US to fail if it attacks Syria


A senior White House official told Al Jazeera, that this move "is too late to be credible" and that the evidence would now be "corrupted", and that there was "very little doubt" that Syrian forces had used chemical weapons in al-Ghouta.

“We have seen the reports that after five days of refusing to allow the UN investigative team immediate and unimpeded access to the site of a reported August 21 chemical weapons attacks, the regime may allow access tomorrow.

Western allies: UN Syria probe comes too late

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies, and against us. And there is no doubt that his aggressive regional ambitions will lead him into future confrontations with his neighbors -- confrontations that will involve both the weapons he has today, and the ones he will continue to develop with his oil wealth."

"Saddam also devised an elaborate program to conceal his active efforts to build chemical and biological weapons. And one must keep in mind the history of U.N. inspection teams in Iraq. Even as they were conducting the most intrusive system of arms control in history, the inspectors missed a great deal. Before being barred from the country, the inspectors found and destroyed thousands of chemical weapons, and hundreds of tons of mustard gas and other nerve agents."

Dick Cheney to the Veterans of Foreign Wars 103rd National Convention, Aug 2002
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 11:51 AM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


whyareyouatriangle: "It must remembered that the Syrian opposition basically are Al Queda.

The Syrian Democratic People's Party is Al-Qaeda? The Coalition of Secular and Democratic Syrians is Al-Qaeda? The Syrian Islamic Liberation Front is Al-Qaeda? The Supreme Council of the Syrian Revolution is Al-Qaeda? The Kurdish Supreme Committee is Al-Qaeda? The National Salvation Front in Syria is Al-Qaeda? The Syrian Revolution General Commission is Al-Qaeda? The Idlib Martyrs' Brigade is Al-Qaeda? The Assyrian Democratic Organization is Al-Qaeda? The Syriac Union Party is Al-Qaeda? The Syrian Islamic Front is Al-Qaeda? The National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change (and, as an umbrella organisation, its numerous parties below) is Al-Qaeda?
"

You forgot the Judean People's Front... But the People's Front of Judea are NOT AQ. Though Loretta should be able to have a baby and put it in a box.
posted by symbioid at 11:53 AM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to this chart Syria is the 33rd largest oil producer at 400 000 bbl / day, i. e. not worth fighting over. The west is going to hem and haw and whatnot but little will be done and Assad and his backers know it.

As for that Cyrus performance, yikes. Has anybody heard from the "female" dancer with the big butt? Does anybody know that wasn't some 6 foot 10 inch tall dude in a fatsuit?
posted by bukvich at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2013


> I don't even know your co-worker, and I hate that guy.
I've been tempted to teach him the meaning of the "what rhymes with hug me" line by stealing his phone, changing the ringtone to Metal Machine Music, and giving it back to him.

...because "mug me" rhymes with "hug me", get it?"
posted by pxe2000 at 12:02 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The most humane thing would be to ritually sacrifice all child stars upon their 18th birthday.

You monster. Your vision would mean depriving us of Kurt Russell and Anne Hathaway.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:15 PM on August 27, 2013


There are Islamist rebel groups in Syria and some call themselves Al Queda, but they're basically the same as yer average MacDonalds: just a franchise, not scary evil 9/11 causers.

Seeing as how yer average McDonald's disgusts and terrifies me only slightly less than the 9/11 causers, this isn't a comparison that puts a friendlier face on the Syrian rebels.

Here's a solution! We put Miley in a leather catsuit—Britney may have an old one she can spare—then arm her to the teeth and drop her in the middle of Damascus. Between her appropriation of the dabke and cold, hard, lead, she'll finish what's left of Syria in no time.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:18 PM on August 27, 2013


According to this chart Syria is the 33rd largest oil producer at 400 000 bbl / day, i. e. not worth fighting over. The west is going to hem and haw and whatnot but little will be done and Assad and his backers know it.

Afghanistan comes in at 155 on that chart.
posted by yoink at 12:26 PM on August 27, 2013


I'm not really concerned with the popularity of entertainment news. People care about it, let them. We theoretically elect people to worry about foreign policy for us because we can't all follow the complex nature of the challenges associated with it.

I am a little concerned that the conversation in regards to government is often so incoherent and contradictory. We are a country where a significant amount of people don't think we can afford to feed our poor or provide them with basic health care. There seems to be bipartisan agreement that our spending is out of control, even among those who disagree that we can't care for our poor.

So in what universe can we even consider spending billions of dollars to once again strap on our Superman cape to go save the world from violence with more violence? And why is it we suddenly see foreign policy as simple like that? Effective intervention is a dangerous, expensive, and complex task and we are not a country that is up to that challenge right now. If you feel bad about people dying, there are many other ways to help people.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:29 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Twerking: A Scientific Explanation
posted by homunculus at 12:32 PM on August 27, 2013


Presumably as part of an exchange program Buzzfeed will be carrying the news item that replaced on ABC.
posted by Artw at 12:38 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe I'm just old and confused, but what in the hell was Miley Cyrus doing with her tongue? Was that supposed to be sexy? She looked like she was trying to lick her own ear.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:49 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought she had a stroke.
posted by Pendragon at 1:01 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I believe she was channeling Danny Brown
posted by Ad hominem at 1:01 PM on August 27, 2013


I know what they mean. I totally have no ability to carry two different notions in my head at hey look at that hummingbird.
posted by NedKoppel at 1:02 PM on August 27, 2013


I don't think anyone of any age knows what she was doing with her tongue.
posted by sweetkid at 1:02 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Very few 20 year olds are actually sexy, beyond raw flesh.
posted by planetesimal at 1:04 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am equally depressed by both stories.
posted by diocletian at 1:09 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Very few 20 year olds are actually sexy, beyond raw flesh.

what?
posted by sweetkid at 1:13 PM on August 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


Look - what I'm really offended about isn't co-option of black culture. I'm not worried about children in syria being gassed.

We need to focus on the real issue here, which is that those bears are clearly ripped off from Aphex Twin's Donkey Rhubarb Video.
posted by symbioid at 1:20 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Could we do a sort of cultural exchange? Maybe we can cut a deal with Assad to trade innocent Syrians to the US as a refuge in trade for Miley and her ilk.

We will not interfere with any gassing or destructive actions he will do, and he can pursue such tyrannical actions until his heart's content. Innocent lives will be saved, Miley will be punished, no need to get involved in messy international relations that might escalate into a more dangerous regional conflict, and Assad can feel righteous that his acts helped rid the world of a moral danger to youth around the world, AND against cultural imperialism (and cultural pillaging).
posted by symbioid at 1:23 PM on August 27, 2013


> "And I find myself having a similar dispair over the reaction to Cyrus. What the actual fuck is the problem?"

Twerking killed my family.
posted by kyrademon at 1:24 PM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Vietnam veterans as a group have tended to perform better on most indices of "success" in life than a random comparative cohort (i.e., less unemployment, less homelessness, lower suicide rates etc. etc.).

I must question that bit about lower suicide rates as there have been more Vietnam vet suicides than there were fatalities during the war
posted by philip-random at 1:27 PM on August 27, 2013


Afghanistan comes in at 155 on that chart.

Afghanistan isn't valuable for its oil production, but for its geographic location as a passage through which oil and other goods can travel from wherever they are extracted or made. Where oil is concerned, specifically, you may want to read about the TAPI pipeline project.

The control of trade routes has long been a motivation for war, since colonial days and before. Which isn't to say that this is or will be the United States' motivation for involving itself in Syria, but as a historical trend, it's not just having control over natural resources, but also being able to move them from point A to point B through territory C has always been a consideration for military superpowers through time immemorial.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Do you have any evidence that control of trade routes was a motivation for launching the war in Afghanistan?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:57 PM on August 27, 2013


Afghanistan isn't valuable for its oil production, but for its geographic location

And I'm confident a similar post-hoc rationalization could be applied to intervention in Syria.
posted by yoink at 1:58 PM on August 27, 2013


The control of trade routes has long been a motivation for war, since colonial days and before.

This explains Vietnam! /s
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:06 PM on August 27, 2013


I mean, the bears did nothing. They represented nothing.
The hubbub here is about a sexual display which was particularly shocking in the context of a woman whose early fame was as a teen Disney starlet marketed to little girls. You don't see any possible referent for the choice of teddy bears?

Granted, she was probably going for "powerful juxtaposition between stifled little girl and independent young woman" and she may have only achieved "damn, did Disney make another one snap?", but just because the symbolism fell a little flat doesn't mean it wasn't there.
posted by roystgnr at 2:13 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You would think that we would have learned by now that collateral damage from air strikes runs the risk of motivating guerrilla warfare against American citizens.

Perhaps that's one thing about this whole debate between two different stories. I don't know what is the best thing to do for Syria. And I strongly suspect that you don't know either. Centuries of failed attempts to intervene in the politics of that region should inspire some fairly severe skepticism and doubt about both our motivations and abilities to white knight here.

On the other hand, female pop stars remaking themselves through highly sexual stage performance (usually the VMAs) often latching on minority cultural elements is an old and familiar story. (Spears and Perry come to mind.)
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:21 PM on August 27, 2013


We need to focus on the real issue here, which is that those bears are clearly ripped off from Aphex Twin's Donkey Rhubarb Video.

Why this is a worry is that Come To Daddy might be next. Or even worse: Windowlicker.
posted by Artw at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Before You Conclude That 'Precision' Bombing Makes Sense With Syria ...
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:26 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or even worse: Windowlicker.

I thought the stage performance already went there.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:30 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


But without the parody.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 2:31 PM on August 27, 2013


There is strange. And then there is Aphex Twin strange.
posted by Twain Device at 2:31 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


#MileySyrias

i have fixed ur probs
posted by klangklangston at 2:40 PM on August 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


I will say that the Onion's black and white hawkishness on the matter makes me dislike their stories on the matter quite a bit, even this one which is essentially on point about CNN.

Seems like they are backing off on being too black and white.

Experts Point To Long, Glorious History Of Successful U.S. Bombing Campaigns

posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 PM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Do you have any evidence that control of trade routes was a motivation for launching the war in Afghanistan?

Depending on which press you choose read, it has been suggested that opening pipeline routes through Afghanistan would have put pressure on Iran's own energy delivery proposals, which could be good for those who want to make money and those who want to put the screws on Iran (or at least keep petrodollars as the oil currency of choice) and where the twain meet.

And I'm confident a similar post-hoc rationalization could be applied to intervention in Syria.

Al Qaeda Sorry, a 2012 op-ed on Al-Jazeera suggests this possibility:
"Syria is not a major oil producer; its reserves are dwindling. Yet until the outbreak of civil war, Damascus was making a hardly negligible $4 billion a year in oil sales - a third of the government budget.

Syria is way more important as an energy crossroads, much like Turkey - but on a smaller scale. The key point is that Turkey needs Syria to fulfill its energy strategy.

Syria's play in Pipelineistan includes the Arab Gas Pipeline (AGP) from Egypt to Tripoli (in Lebanon) and the IPC from Kirkuk, in Iraq, to Banyas - idle since the 2003 US invasion.

The centrepiece of Syria's energy strategy is the "Four Seas Policy" - a concept introduced by Bashar al-Assad in early 2011, two months before the start of the uprising. It's like a mini-Turkish power play - an energy network linking the Mediterranean, the Caspian, the Black Sea and the Gulf."

...

The verdict is open on whether this complex Pipelineistan gambit qualifies as a casus belli for Turkey and NATO to go all-out after Assad; but it should be remembered that Washington's strategy in south-west Asia since the Clinton administration has been to bypass, isolate and hurt Iran by all means necessary.

...

In Ankara's worldview, nothing can stand in the way of its dream of becoming the ultimate energy bridge between East and West. That implies an extremely complex relationship with no fewer than nine countries; Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.

As for the wider Arab world, even before the Arab Spring, an Arab Pipelineistan that could link Cairo, Amman, Damascus, Beirut and Baghdad was being seriously discussed. That would do more to unify and develop a new Middle East than any "peace process", "regime change" or peaceful or militarised uprising.

Into this delicate equation, the dream of a Greater Kurdistan is now back in play. And the Kurds may have a reason to smile; Washington appears to be silently backing them - a very quiet strategic alliance.

Of course Washington's motives are not exactly altruistic. Iraqi Kurdistan under Barzani is a very valuable tool for the US to keep a military footprint in Iraq. The Pentagon will never admit it on the record - but advanced plans already exist for a new US base in Iraqi Kurdistan, or for the transfer to Iraqi Kurdistan of NATO's base in Incirlik.

This has got to be one of the most fascinating subplots of the Arab Spring; the Kurds fitting perfectly into Washington's game in the whole arc from the Caucasus to the Gulf.
Again, depends on which media outlets and analyses you read — and if you consider 2012 post-hoc, I suppose. I think it is complex, certainly, but energy will play a role in the decision the US policymakers go with.

As much as I want to see Assad and his family hang for crimes against humanity, if the United States is going in at this point, I'm 100% certain there's going to be more to it than just being the good guys.

Atrocities have happened everywhere and Obama has stood idle. As with most of the wars the US has been in, historically, it is usually about the dollars, at the end of the day. I wouldn't be surprised if a move here is made in context of the centuries-long game that empires have been playing over vital resources (like energy).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:02 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So does anybody know if it was really Ryan Gosling up there dancing in front of the stage along with N'Sync?
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:03 PM on August 27, 2013


Further, if we go in, for the sake of Syrian civilians I really, really hope that Obama has a better post-war plan on hand than Bush did for Iraq, who left the country mired more or less in a constant state of civil war. Just having any kind of game plan would work, probably. Would be a damn sight better than the mess Bush left behind.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on August 27, 2013


Nobody accuses action movie actors of being the immoral killing machines they portray on film, all outraged. Why is Miley uniquely responsible for the act she presents in order to entertain us for a few minutes?

An answer to this question can be found in Frank Zappa's testimony before the United States Senate in 1985. One of Zappa's arguments was that you can't compare movie ratings to rating music because consumers of movies are contextually aware that actors are not actually their characters. It doesn't work that way with musicians, he said; people who consume music closely and personally associate the work with the artist. Therefore, he argued, and pardon my paraphrase, a music rating was a particular hardship for a musician.
posted by NedKoppel at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2013


Twain Device: "There is strange. And then there is Aphex Twin strange."

Then there is Venetian Snares strange.
posted by symbioid at 3:43 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then there is Venetian Snares strange.

Winnipeg is a Frozen Shithole might be the angriest thing I've ever heard.
posted by Twain Device at 3:50 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


People are just frightened of a young woman sexually asserting herself. Y'all were fine when Madonna did it 25 years ago so just chill.
posted by Renoroc at 4:10 PM on August 27, 2013


Atrocities have happened everywhere and Obama has stood idle. As with most of the wars the US has been in, historically, it is usually about the dollars, at the end of the day. I wouldn't be surprised if a move here is made in context of the centuries-long game that empires have been playing over vital resources (like energy).

Except none of these frameworks have any explanatory value when they get deployed no matter what choices the US makes. If everything is grist to the "they only do it for the petrodollars" mill then nothing is. If Obama doesn't intervene in Syria it's "aha! told you so! Syria's not a major oil producer!" If Obama does intervene it's "aha! told you so! Syria's an energy crossroads!" But that's a game that can be played in every imaginable scenario under the sun.
posted by yoink at 4:12 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Afghanistan is a liability picked up as a necessity for plausibly invading Iraq. It is useful for nothing.
posted by Artw at 4:14 PM on August 27, 2013


Why this is a worry is that Come To Daddy might be next. Or even worse: Windowlicker

And then, not long after that, look for Alarm Will Sound's orchestral covers of the more recherche Miley Cyrus tunes.

(Or maybe Miley will move on to Zappa and give us I'm Only In For The Petrodollars.)
posted by octobersurprise at 4:34 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


People are just frightened of a young woman sexually asserting herself. Y'all were fine when Madonna did it 25 years ago so just chill.

Please read some of the linked articles and comments herein. That is not the only issue at hand. There are plenty of reasons why anti-racists should not "just chill", and there are plenty of reasons why feminists telling them to is hugely problematic and indicative of a wider racial bias in the contemporary movement.

And, for the record, I can talk about Miley Cyrus and not Syria because I don't know nearly enough about Syria to comment intelligibly, and what I do know has no comparison to amateur and professional scholars who have studied the nuances of that situation in depth. I've studied social justice and cultural theory, so I know how to talk about that stuff to some degree. It doesn't mean I'm therefore incapable of learning about an intractable situation or don't want to hear about it. My browser is able to open more than one tab at a time, and so is my mind.
posted by Errant at 4:36 PM on August 27, 2013


In the war between anti-racists and feminists, everybody nobody the white man wins!
posted by Apropos of Something at 4:39 PM on August 27, 2013


Why did it seem like a good idea to lump Miley Cyrus into a post about very possibly going to war with Syria? It's already hard enough to follow Syria news without having to go through pop culture bullshit.

If anyone thinks it's a good idea to start a proper Syria thread I wonder if the mods would mind -- then this one could be delegated to distraction culture or whatever.
posted by whorl at 4:41 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the idea was to create the hardest possible post for us to moderate ever.
posted by cortex at 4:42 PM on August 27, 2013 [28 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "revelations of Syria's flagrant violations of international law by using chemical weapons against its own civilians."


Revelation? No. Accusations, yes. No proof that the Syrian government used the weapons. Whoever did it, it sure was an amazing piece of "luck" for the rebels and those who will profit from the war.
posted by 2manyusernames at 4:43 PM on August 27, 2013


In the war between anti-racists and feminists ... the white man wins!

That outcome was never in doubt, but anti-racists aren't automatically feminists, or vice versa, and the lack of intersectionality there causes some real problems. Anti-racism can be hugely sexist in its theory, while large sections of feminism have long had a troubling blindness to racial issues.
posted by Errant at 4:45 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Renoroc: "People are just frightened of a young woman sexually asserting herself. Y'all were fine when Madonna did it 25 years ago so just chill."

Exactly. Has everyone forgotten that Madonna put out an entire coffee table book in 1992 full of the sexy sex called....wait for it....Sex? Prince has been singing about masturbation since before Miley was born so where is all this prudish moral outrage coming from and why is this worthy of any human give-a-fucks?
posted by Dr. Zira at 4:46 PM on August 27, 2013


‘Syrian Electronic Army’ Takes Down The New York Times
posted by homunculus at 4:53 PM on August 27, 2013


Renoroc: "People are just frightened of a young woman sexually asserting herself.

No, I'm horrified at the self centered display of acting out via an overeager and unwanted wet tongue repeatedly plunged into my eyeballs.

Y'all were fine when Madonna did it 25 years ago so just chill.

Madonna had style and maturity. Cyrus has neither at this point and may not gain them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:57 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except none of these frameworks have any explanatory value when they get deployed no matter what choices the US makes. If everything is grist to the "they only do it for the petrodollars" mill then nothing is. If Obama doesn't intervene in Syria it's "aha! told you so! Syria's not a major oil producer!" If Obama does intervene it's "aha! told you so! Syria's an energy crossroads!" But that's a game that can be played in every imaginable scenario under the sun.

Well, I agree. It's a mistake to point to every decision as being linked to oil. But like, we can probably agree for the most part with the idea that the security of the energy market is one of the primary concerns of American foreign policy. It's never a bad idea to examine those motives very closely and with a skeptical eye because the wealth of some of the biggest oligarchs in the world is also wrapped up in the outcome. The line between security of the market and shaping the market to benefit various interests is blurry.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:58 PM on August 27, 2013


I'll bet the Syrian Electronic Army likes to twerk. I just have that feeling.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:06 PM on August 27, 2013


Prince has been singing about masturbation since before Miley was born so where is all this prudish moral outrage coming from and why is this worthy of any human give-a-fucks?
Both Prince and Madonna were safely above the age of consent when they started creating more sexually explicit work, both of them had gone into music of their own will as opposed to being pressured by a parent, and both of them were performing a more adult sexuality. Miley's parents decided for her that she was going to be an actress before she could really make that decision for herself. Even though she's above the age of consent, she's performing a more childlike sexuality (with the plushies, the cutesy plush onesie, and the Rugrats-inspired fashion choices). Neither Prince nor Madonna consciously marketed themselves to teenagers the way Miley did, and they didn't present themselves as adorable schoolgirls/boys who had suddenly lost control and had a dubious sense of agency.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:13 PM on August 27, 2013


If anyone thinks it's a good idea to start a proper Syria thread I wonder if the mods would mind

There already is one.

Yeah, this whole thread is weird. Miley Cyrus! Syria! Who Will Win?
posted by Justinian at 5:13 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


But like, we can probably agree for the most part with the idea that the security of the energy market is one of the primary concerns of American foreign policy.

Absolutely. But Syria gassing its citizens doesn't actually affect the "security of the energy market" much. The US entangling itself in Syria does. These knowing "aha, it's all because of oil" analyses are tediously jejune. Anyone who thinks the Obama administration has been desperately looking for excuses to involve itself in Syria simply has not been following the situation closely enough for their comments to merit any consideration. If the Obama administration acts now they will be acting because they feel they're backed into a corner and they will do it knowing that it is likely in both the short and medium term to hurt "the security of the energy market" far more than to help it. Cynical calculation would say "let's tacitly back Assad--he's a pretty known quantity and he'll keep the Islamists in check" and would turn a blind eye to a little bit of chemical warfare.

That is not to say that US willingness to consider action in Syria is unrelated to energy politics. Of course it is. The reason the US cares so much about Middle East politics is largely because of oil (and Israel, of course--a motive that cannot be entirely separated from oil politics but cannot be simply reduced to it, either), and of course that is why they feel so deeply implicated in the politics of the region, such that they worry about their "credibility" if they fail to address the gassing of Iraqi civilians and so forth. But these are simply standing preconditions for American attention to and involvement in the region--they are not the motives for any of the actions the Obama administration is weighing. They weren't even the motives for the invasion of Iran under Bush (the real tragedy of that invasion was that it was genuinely "ideological"--they believed their bullshit theories about "democratization" and so forth; a little more actual cynicism would probably have made things better, not worse).
posted by yoink at 5:15 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Except none of these frameworks have any explanatory value when they get deployed no matter what choices the US makes.

I don't disagree with you, generally speaking. But we are talking about the Middle East, which the US has shaped and manipulated to its economic and military benefit for the last century or so. To state that Syria is somehow exempt of these considerations just because critics talk critically about the United States ignores a lot of history. Certainly, those in the Middle East are all too aware of these issues, so to call their criticism "post-hoc" is also a bit dismissive, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:17 PM on August 27, 2013


Neither Prince nor Madonna consciously marketed themselves to teenagers the way Miley did

"Like a virgin"? C'mon.
posted by yoink at 5:17 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this whole thread is weird. Miley Cyrus! Syria! Who Will Win?

this strange apocalypse
posted by philip-random at 5:18 PM on August 27, 2013


Certainly, those in the Middle East are all too aware of these issues, so to call their criticism "post-hoc" is also a bit dismissive, too.

"Post-hoc" means "after this." In other words, I'm talking about rationalizations that will occur after the event. I'm saying if the US attacks Syria, people will say after the event "oh, it's all because of oil." And if the US doesn't attack Syria they will say "oh, it's all because of oil." If the same explanation can be deployed no matter what the event proves to be, the explanation is worthless.
posted by yoink at 5:20 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the strangest thread I've read through in a long time. My poor linear brain is having difficulty filtering the two conversations. The simultaneous thoughts of gassed children and celebrity gossip is screwing with my head.

Yea, the framing kinda bugs me honestly. Just because all your facebook friends and a bunch of blogs and "news" sites are mixing the two together for maximum outrage and pageviews means that we have to? I think the thread linking the two as "lol the media is focusing on this and not this" is pretty thin, and that it's just carrying that thin premise in to a thread that just gets confusing when people try and actually sit down and have serious discussions about both in one place.

The miley thing should have been it's own fpp.

Color me slightly annoyed, at least.
posted by emptythought at 5:20 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Y'all were fine when Madonna did it 25 years ago so just chill.

We really weren't.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:21 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is presented as though the media presentation of celebrity worship over hard-and-depressing news is... not the usual state of affairs.

Of course it's the usual state of affairs, sex and especially celebrity sex sells (and more to the point, draws eyeballs to sell advertisements!) a lot better than news about say, potentially radioactive Fukushima doom.
posted by Archelaus at 5:29 PM on August 27, 2013


In other words, I'm talking about rationalizations that will occur after the event.

I understand what post hoc means, but specifically in the context you seemed to use it, you seemed to be criticizing people who would claim we are going into Syria to further oil-focused foreign policy. My point is that people already more familiar with the complexities of Middle Eastern politics, culture and economic development than both of us put together had already issued that "post-hoc rationalization" a year ago. If that isn't what you intended in your comment, then I apologize for misunderstanding. But it really seemed you were criticizing people associating US foreign policy with economic interests, which seems a particularly odd complaint in light of very recent history, which includes Afghanistan.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:30 PM on August 27, 2013


Yea, the framing kinda bugs me honestly. Just because all your facebook friends and a bunch of blogs and "news" sites are mixing the two together for maximum outrage and pageviews means that we have to? I think the thread linking the two as "lol the media is focusing on this and not this" is pretty thin, and that it's just carrying that thin premise in to a thread that just gets confusing when people try and actually sit down and have serious discussions about both in one place.

I'm personally very intrigued by the framing as it speaks eloquently (and yet anarchically) to where we are right now in the zeitgeist. Weird times indeed. Brings to mind a fave quote:

"the test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."
(F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Can't say I'm exactly pulling it off personally, but I'm trying.
posted by philip-random at 5:34 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


We really weren't.

My teenage self was totally fine with it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:41 PM on August 27, 2013


I haven't been paying much attention to the news lately, plus I'm old and out of touch. Why is Robin Thicke threatening to fire missiles at Miley Cyrus ?

Judging from the stills, her dancing is a war crime worse than chemical warfare.
posted by y2karl at 5:45 PM on August 27, 2013


Yea, the framing kinda bugs me honestly. Just because all your facebook friends and a bunch of blogs and "news" sites are mixing the two together for maximum outrage and pageviews means that we have to? I think the thread linking the two as "lol the media is focusing on this and not this" is pretty thin, and that it's just carrying that thin premise in to a thread that just gets confusing when people try and actually sit down and have serious discussions about both in one place.

I don't think it's so much "the thread" is linking these things as that the articles in the FPP address this exact issue. But I'm not sure to what extent participants in this thread have RTFAs, and that might be contributing to what you're feeling here.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:46 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was sad that Miley Cyrus might no longer be considered a great role model for my 16 year old daugter, until I learned of the existence of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Margaret Mead, Sally Ride, Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, Margaret Atwood, Rosalind Franklin, Kathryn Bigelow, Rachel Carson, Sonia Sotomayor, Susan B. Anthony, Harriet Tubman, Dian Fossey, Marie Curie, and Dr. Johnetta Cole. And I thought, hey, maybe the kiddo will pursue something outside of lame pop-raunch and do something really interesting with her life like all these other women. But hell, if she wants to be a millionaire pop-star at age 20, that's fine with me too. It's her life. And I dance way more raunchy than Miley Cyrus, so I'd be a hypocrite if I criticized that.
posted by Cookiebastard at 5:47 PM on August 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's kind of depressing that the BBC has a site geared toward kids which has a better, succinct summary of the Syria violence than my local newspaper.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Saudis offer Russia secret oil deal if it drops Syria

This is the kind of stuff to watch for, I think; this is the signal behind the noise: the backroom deals made quietly to negotiate regime change.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Like a virgin"? C'mon.
Yeah, but up until that point Madonna was playing more loft parties and Danceteria-type nightclubs than stadium shows, and she probably saw her primary audience more as club kids and drag queens than as teenage girls. Plus, even though teen girls (and some much younger girls, ahem) were fans of Madonna, she was 26 when she recorded Like a Virgin. Even the songwriter says it wasn't literally about losing one's virginity. I see your point, but Madonna had more agency and presented herself as having more agency than Miley does.
posted by pxe2000 at 5:50 PM on August 27, 2013


The USA probably will not directly intervene in Syria because Russia has a Naval Base there. Technically speaking, it is not a naval base, it's a Technical Support Point. The USA might intervene indirectly just to show off against Assad, but the problem is that the rebels are not politically unified. If there was one rebel leader that the Russians trusted enough to make a deal, then things might be different, but they'll stay with Assad because he's the faithful client they know.

The underlying problem in Syria is water resources management.
posted by ovvl at 5:58 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


But I'm not sure to what extent participants in this thread have RTFAs, and that might be contributing to what you're feeling here.

Which seems to be a problem everywhere right now, not just here. Either everyone is raring to fire off their opinion launchers, or they've already read 12 other articles/posts/etc on it and are just ready to fire. I think for a significant number of people replying to this thread, the FPP could have had no links and they would have posted pretty much the same thing.

There's been a lot of interesting links in comments thus far i enjoyed, but there's also been a lot of posts that really strike me as that type of thing. So yea, i do think it's contributing. These are both just superheated(especially miley) topics right now that i'm pretty sure even my freaking mom texted me about. You're going to get a lot of shooting from the hip i know, but somehow it still bugs me a bit.

and if this is getting too meta feel free to shut me down. i didn't think my point here was worthy of an actual MeTa post at all, but just wanted to drop it in here because the framing and peoples responses are just... a bit weird to me.
posted by emptythought at 6:02 PM on August 27, 2013


Which seems to be a problem everywhere right now, not just here. Either everyone is raring to fire off their opinion launchers, or they've already read 12 other articles/posts/etc on it and are just ready to fire. I think for a significant number of people replying to this thread, the FPP could have had no links and they would have posted pretty much the same thing.

Oh, I feel you. And it happens a lot. I think the premise of the FPP--about whether popular culture "news" crowds out "real news," and what effect this has, if any--would probably lend itself to much more interesting discussion if the current events cited as examples weren't pulled from this week's headlines. As it stands, people just want to talk about the headlines, so this kind of defaulted to a "Miley Cyrus: Go! meets Syria: Go!" thread.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:11 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


And then there's the point that a lot of those discussions about pop culture stuff crowding out "real news" often turn in to AMERICA HURR DURR which was really easy to find in here too.

And you know, that sort of discussion has been retreaded a bajillion times. It almost feels like these two current pulled from the headlines items were just an excuse to jackhammer through the same points again. It's like the shit that gets brought up in MeTa in new threads over and over and over. (like, this, for example).

I guess my issue comes down to the fact that i don't see why the chocolate had to get in the peanut butter here. The Miley thing would have been worthy of an FPP, and there's already a Syria thread. And IMO, the whole "THE MEDIA IGNORES THE TRUTH" thing is a bad premise for an FPP that just makes people hop on hobbyhorses and spew the same tired shit that's already been posted a kabillion times.

(inb4 all my comments in this thread get deleted, i guess!)
posted by emptythought at 6:18 PM on August 27, 2013


I was excited when I heard what Miley Cyrus was doing in the gifs until I saw them.

Worst rimming ever.

I'll have to wait until I can assess Assad's ass-to-mouth technique before I can render a verdict.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 6:26 PM on August 27, 2013


If I recall my eighties and early nineties correctly, Madonna's sex photo book was hugely controversial both amongst feminists and [much more so] in the broader culture. And has everyone forgotten the whole late eighties/nineties culture war thing with the National Endowment for the Arts and the giant moral panic about sexually explicit music ranging from "I Want Your Sex" and its ilk through various rap songs? Good Lord, back in the eighties people couldn't even deal with "She Bop" once they figured out that it was about masturbation.

Madonna has been - bizarrely - retconned into an eighties and nineties feminist icon. She was not. There was some enthusiasm for some of her work among some feminists, and there was quite a lot of cultural studies stuff about her, but just as anti-racism and feminism are not the same thing even though they often overlap, cultural studies and feminism are not identical either.

The one thing you can say for Madonna was that even in her early career, her persona was that of a genuinely independent adult woman - you got the sense that she was in charge of her music career and saw it as a career. Whereas these Miley Cyrus nymphet figures - their personae are much more about not really having careers so much as authentically being nothing but young, over-sexed and self-destructuve. That's not to say that they are authentic or lack private selves, but that it is no longer desirable to present an image of a woman musician as professional with a career and some separation between her stage self and her private self .
posted by Frowner at 6:38 PM on August 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


OK, so I watched the VMA thing, out of morbid curiosity, and, um, that's really what people are getting all worked up about? When I was a youngster, if a band wanted to do something offensive, it would be GWAR's Oderus Urungus spraying the audience with fake blood and semen through his Cuttlefish of Cthluhu, or Ozzy Osbourne biting the head off a live animal, or Jello Biafra burning the American flag while reciting an obscene parody of the Pledge of Allegiance. This Miley kid is a lightweight.
posted by Cookiebastard at 6:45 PM on August 27, 2013


Rah Digga has an opinion about twerking.
posted by box at 6:55 PM on August 27, 2013


Madonna's sex photo book was hugely controversial both amongst feminists and [much more so] in the broader culture.

For one thing, Vanilla Ice was in it.
posted by box at 6:56 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think I finally put my finger on it. Miley looked like that drunk girl who loses some of her clothing and gets up on stage trying to get the singer to fuck her. Or at least go through the motions of trying to get him to fuck her.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:04 PM on August 27, 2013


The Miley thing would have been worthy of an FPP

No, it really, really wouldn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:08 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cyrus' VMA performance was crude, racist and sexist, with pedophilic overtones. Simulated rimming, the foam hand, Black women dressed as teddy bears, and that oversized Black woman, Beetlejuice, etc., and I am so very sorry I watched it on youtube. It wasn't entertaining or particularly talented, there's no interesting context, and it featured a woman exploiting herself. That somebody, anybody, thought this was something that should be broadcast is horrifying.

This deserves a great deal of attention, like, Is this who we are, or who we want to be? and Does the media hate us so much that they would present this to us? and a number of more erudite versions of What The Everlovin' Fuck? Like, why isn't the racism being discussed widely?

Why is it Syria *or* Miley Cyrus? There's plenty of room on the front page for Cyrus, Syria, the economy, and maybe a little science news, or something about Afghanistan where we are still at war, and Army Staff Sergeant Ty M. Carter being awarded the Medal of Honor.

The news from Syria is heartbreaking and tragic. A lot of the world seems to expect the US to act, and it looks like we will drop some bombs. But we don't have a clear role, and I'm so worried that we'll get enmeshed and be in a war where our goal is not clear, and the guys whose side we're on will still hate us, and we'll add to the bloodshed with our excellent weapons, and it will be another tragic waste. The UN isn't willing to get involved because Putin is being an ass, but this is the UN's job. I don't know why it matters so much to me if we send troops wearing a UN insignia instead of Operation Here We Go Again, but it does.

Buzzfeed's gifs are a pretty good selection, and I liked this.
posted by theora55 at 7:13 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Whereas these Miley Cyrus nymphet figures - their personae are much more about not really having careers so much as authentically being nothing but young, over-sexed and self-destructuve.

Yo imma let you finish, etc, because i liked the rest of that post a lot... but how do you actually know this?

What kind of definitive proof is there at all that this isn't a cleverly constructed media persona by someone whose been raised since birth with the toolset to game the system and get lots of media attention? She's literally getting completely top to bottom media and social network coverage to the freaking extent something like the president dying would just for shaking her ass on camera.

I feel like it's if anything more likely that this was a cleverly constructed event than just her blundering through something without getting how many feathers it would ruffle(or only knowing "lol this will piss people off")

I think her and madonna have a lot more in common than you'd like to admit on this point, and i'm not even a supporter of hers, falling firmly in the camp of litleozy and the blog post they linked above of there being troubling racial elements to this... but yea, i really think this is a carefully constructed and executed stunt.

Another reason being that just sits better with me, which might be a personal opinion clouding my judgement type thing, but the alternative is "LOL CRAZY ATTENTION WHORE GIRL TRYING TO BE AS ~RANDOM~ AS POSSIBLE" which is pretty gross. This really just reads as the formulaic radio rock of publicity stunts constructed by expert publicists, etc who made should have thought a bit harder about the racial aspects.
posted by emptythought at 7:34 PM on August 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thank you, Frowner, for saying what I was attempting to say.
posted by pxe2000 at 8:05 PM on August 27, 2013


The Miley performance wasn't just overtly sexual. We've all seen that before, and seen it escalate exponentially in the media for years.* The larger issue was that it was sexuality that was linked to racism. I think that the poster NinjaCate at Jezebel summed it up best:

Okay.... but can we talk about the problematic and racist nature of her performance? Her literal use of people as props? Her association of her newfound sexuality with the traditional codifiers of black female culture, thereby perpetuating the Jezebel stereotype that black women are lewd, lascivious and uncontrollably sexualized? Can we talk about the straight up minstrelsy of that performance? Can we talk about how not a single black person won an award last night even though the people who did win awards have been mining black music and culture for years?


That's why her performance is blowing up the internet. It wasn't simply a theatre of sexuality, but a racist display of cultural appropriation laced with sexuality.

*I'm in no way endorsing the overt sexuality of Robin and Miley and the associated sexist nonsense of the performance, only pointing out that there was more going on.
posted by Shouraku at 8:07 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I recently discovered that there may be very old roots to twerking. Is it really an old tradition? Do people assume it is old because tribal people do it?
posted by idiopath at 8:14 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What kind of definitive proof is there at all that this isn't a cleverly constructed media persona by someone whose been raised since birth with the toolset to game the system and get lots of media attention? She's literally getting completely top to bottom media and social network coverage to the freaking extent something like the president dying would just for shaking her ass on camera.

That's why I was trying to emphasize the difference between persona and self. My point was that when we look at Madonna, we see someone whose self-presentation is "I have a career, a private life and a measure of control over my image" and when we look at Miley Cyrus we see a self-presentation of "I am just too sexual and fucked up to be thinking about anything at all, so it's all innocent/titillating". That has nothing to do with whether the persona maps onto the person's off stage self, or the degree to which she controls her self presentation. It has to do with what audiences are believed to want, and I think that if I had to choose, I'd prefer an audience who wants a a career musician than an audience who wants a fucked up starlet to fantasize about and hate.

Madonna, of course, did a lot of her own cultural appropriating.

To clarify - I don't like either Madonna or Miley Cyrus. I'd say I am probably more familiar with MC's actual work and more familiar with theory about Madonna. I have no interest in which one is "better", either musically or politically - only in the ways that they're different and what that might mean.
posted by Frowner at 8:18 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't get the MTV videos in Australia and I can't be bothered hunting for a copy. What are the accusations of "white Minstrelsy" based on?
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:19 PM on August 27, 2013


Miley Cyrus has a long history of appropriating black culture and claiming it as her own; she has, at various points, talked about being more black or identifying "black" as her end goal. Much of her music and many of her performances, including twerking, are listed inartfully from lesser-known black artists, which is in line with a long tradition of white artists impersonating black artists and gaining plaudits that their models never receive.

The song in this performance was originally written for Rhianna. During the performance, she is on stage with a number of black women wearing teddy bear costumes, with whom she twerks, objectified, and in one instance reduces to an ass that she can repeatedly slap. There's a long history of black women being reduced to a stereotypical uncontrolled sexuality -- observe the nth of the welfare queen -- and further that white people have the authority to yoke and utilize for their own purposes.

There's more, a lot more, and some of the linked articles are quite thorough, but I believe that to be a reasonably accurate overview, though I welcome correction.
posted by Errant at 8:46 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


TBH we've had 3-4 Cyrus threads at this point and I'm not at all sure she is appropriating anything. I think she, and other people involved, are trying to move a specific type of music to the mainstream.

She is working with Mike Will who is most famous for his work with Gucci Mane, Pharrell Williams,who is all the fuck over the place, and Juicy J from 3 Six mafia, who has been in the game a long fucking time and somehow won an academy award for Hustle and Flow.

She is being championed by no less than Jay Z and Hot 97.

Everyone is trying to position her as Nicki Minaj with a more mainstream reach, including Nicki Minaj. She is bringing everyone involved closer to the mainstream, where the money is.

Is it really appropriating if half the people responsible for "trap" music are involved in some way?
posted by Ad hominem at 8:54 PM on August 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


In what world is Nicki Minaj not mainstream?
posted by codacorolla at 9:43 PM on August 27, 2013


Miley on Nicki Minaj: ""A lot of people wanted to try to make me the white Nicki Minaj. That's not what I'm trying to do. I love 'hood' music, but my talent is as a singer."

I am not entirely comfortable with how she phrased that.
posted by naoko at 9:58 PM on August 27, 2013


TBH we've had 3-4 Cyrus threads at this point and I'm not at all sure she is appropriating anything.

Well, plenty of artists and critics think she is. I'll let them make their case:

-- The song Cyrus sang, We Can't Stop, was written by Timothy and Theron Thomas and given to Cyrus when she told them, presumably without a wince: "I want something that feels black."

-- In the New Orleans bounce scene where it originated in the 90s, twerking was all about exuberance, on Miley Cyrus it is an anatomically illogical marketing ploy, an attempt to display unbridled hedonism and convey the atmosphere of a street or house party by someone who’s been trapped in overly air-conditioned environments for years.

-- In “We Can’t Stop,” the black women show Cyrus how to twerk in order to give Cyrus the prerequisite street cred. Like the black women in “The Help,” they were props for a white woman’s narrative, the discovery of herself and her own identity. But last night, the black women were barely part of the scene at all, pushed to the side or the background, until they were called upon to be grabbed by Ms. Cyrus.

-- It continues a long tradition of what bell hooks might refer to as "eating the other." Hooks noted that within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes like spice seasoning. It is used to liven up the dull dish that is mainstream/white culture.

-- Cyrus’s twerk act gives minstrelsy a postmodern careerist spin. Cyrus is annexing working-class black “ratchet” culture, the potent sexual symbolism of black female bodies, to the cause of her reinvention: her transformation from squeaky-clean Disney-pop poster girl to grown-up hipster-provocateur.

-- She is taking elements of black culture and using them to give her the patina of street cred that she wants so badly. She is playing at being black without even trying to understand what the lived experience of being black really is. She is appropriating cultural elements without taking any time to reflect on her position of privilege and how her use of the term “ratchet” or her twerking are contributing to the oppression of black people.

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 10:03 PM on August 27, 2013 [17 favorites]


She is being championed by no less than Jay Z and Hot 97.

Dude, when Jay-Z calls her a "god", he is being sarcastic. On "somewhereinamerica", he's cracking jokes about her, not celebrating her.

I usually agree with you, but right now miley is a frigging joke. And I thought "Party in the USA" was an awesome pop song that could be used to discuss globalization of culture.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:04 PM on August 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


She is appropriating cultural elements without taking any time to reflect on her position of privilege and how her use of the term “ratchet” or her twerking are contributing to the oppression of black people.

Party in the USA!
posted by hal_c_on at 10:11 PM on August 27, 2013


You guys may be right. I don't think Jay Z drops people's names lightly. He is very aware of his cultural capital. She certainly isn't a respected rapper, or even on his level of fame so why is he even mentioning her.

Maybe he is making fun of her but I still see her working with some respected names. I have to wonder why all these people are working with her.

Maybe I am just too into rap conspiracy theories.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:16 PM on August 27, 2013


I guess what I am saying is that I suspect the inverse of "Cyrus is annexing working-class black 'ratchet' culture".

I don't think she is merely capitalizing illegitimately on some phenomenon she doesn't understand. I'm saying I think she is part of a marketing plan to make "ratchet" culture more mainstream. Maybe she understands it, maybe she doesn't, but the people working with her certainly understand it.

Last thread I posted a bunch of videos of how differently Miley Cyrus is treated on Hot 97 than other artists. They have issues with Trinidad James being too "Ratchet" yet the same people have no problem with Miley Cyrus.

She certainly isn't any more legitimate than Trinidad James.

Like I said, I'm into the conspiracy theories so I'm probably wrong.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:29 PM on August 27, 2013


You know, the real damage that Miley Cyrus did was to the furry community. She has to have absolutely buzzkilled any and all furry fetishes with that performance. Won't somebody think of the poor furries? It's not nice to ruin their fetish like that!

But seriously now, I have heard the word "vomit" used to describe that "performance." I haven't even watched the thing live yet (but you sure can't avoid the photos) and yeah, it makes you gag just seeing the grinding in that awful outfit with the foam finger on her crotch. Yuck. Not sexy. Not even close. Isn't there some kind of middle way to be all "I've grown up and now I smoke pot and screw" without grossing out everyone and reminding everyone of Britney and Lindsay's breakdowns?

(Oh yeah, and there isn't shit I can do about Syria, so I might as well continue to have my head in the sand on that one.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:00 PM on August 27, 2013


Todd in the Shadows asks: did anybody LIKE watching the VMA's?
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:07 PM on August 27, 2013


Well, plenty of artists and critics think she is. I'll let them make their case:

Ok, I don't dispute some people feel that way but Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J, Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj have a working relationship with her, so it is obviously more complex.

Hell, who knows, maybe the VMA's killed her whole next album they been working on.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:08 PM on August 27, 2013


Why are notable hip-hop artists working with her? Well, if any of them had been in the Wu-Tang Clan, you'd already know the answer. C.R.E.A.M.
posted by Errant at 11:10 PM on August 27, 2013


Well, yeah. I'm just still up in the air what kind of appropriation it is if everyone involved in the project is a notable hip-hop artist, with the exception of her.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:13 PM on August 27, 2013


TBH we've had 3-4 Cyrus threads at this point and I'm not at all sure she is appropriating anything. I think she, and other people involved, are trying to move a specific type of music to the mainstream.

She is working with Mike Will who is most famous for his work with Gucci Mane, Pharrell Williams,who is all the fuck over the place, and Juicy J from 3 Six mafia, who has been in the game a long fucking time and somehow won an academy award for Hustle and Flow.

She is being championed by no less than Jay Z and Hot 97


None of these people are associated with "ratchet" culture; they are associated with mocking or demeaning it. When men, such as LL Cool J and Juicy J, use it, it's a term used to mock a certain stereotype of (supposedly money-hungry, trashy black) women.

The term itself originates in Shreveport, LA (actually, a particular neighborhood called Cedar Grove) and the music from there. If Miley Cyrus were working with Anthony Mandigo (were he not in jail), producer Earl Williams, or, Untamed Mayne, she'd be working with people who actually started the ratchet movement, instead of Atlanta's Mike Will, who hopped onto the ratchet phenomenon much later, as a remix producer for Memphis's Juicy J, who used the word in the way that Michaela Angela Davis of Vibe describes: "There’s an emotional violence and meanness attached to being ratchet, particularly pertaining to women of color." In Juicy J's song, "ratchet" women are reduced to nothing more than a sex object. It's also on display here.

So, I dunno, there will always be people who think they can capitalize on a trend. But the definition of cultural appropriation includes taking something from its original cultural context and stripping it of its context, while still benefiting from the fact that it is recognizably a product of that culture. I can't imagine it is too hard for an extremely wealthy white girl to hire an African-American producer and tell him that she wants something black, and Cyrus did, and wind up appropriating something produced in a specific location and a specific context, but without any concern or respect for that location or context. And I don't know that this is an example of producers conspiring to make Shreveport's ratchet music popular or if they are just raiding their inventory four sounds that suit that millionaire's sense of what sounds black, but either way we wind up with a situation in which something with a complicated (and conflicted) history just becomes a context-free tool for a white performer, who is doing nothing to add any additional context and seems to see culture produced by black people (and actual black people) as a prop for her career.

And don't even get me started on twerking, which has its own history that's neatly sidestepping by being something Cyrus does to teddy bears and Beetlejuice.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:23 PM on August 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


But everyone involved isn't a notable hip-hop artist, unless you're telling me that all those dancers on stage and all those people in all those videos are household names and not auto-erased sexual and racial objects. Here is one way in which anti-racism and feminism have plenty of beef: the sexuality of black women is frequently used by black men as proof of their independence.
posted by Errant at 11:25 PM on August 27, 2013


Meanwhile, in Australia, all these stories have been bumped from the headlines by an even bigger issue: drugs in sport. (No, really, it was the lead on the ABC news this morning over the fact that the US is pretty much good to go).

Of course, we also have our own spin on twerking.
posted by Mezentian at 11:33 PM on August 27, 2013


@MartinWisse, thank you for that link.

Don't thank me, thank litleozy; they posted it first.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:42 PM on August 27, 2013


None of these people are associated with "ratchet" culture; they are associated with mocking or demeaning it. When men, such as LL Cool J yt and Juicy J yt , use it, it's a term used to mock a certain stereotype of (supposedly money-hungry, trashy black) women.

The term itself originates in Shreveport, LA


It isn't like singing about molly and saying la-di da-di we like to party in a song is endemic to Shreveport. Ain't Worried About Nothin, the remix she has apparently been working on, is about The Bronx.

If anything she is appropriating shit from New York. I guess aside from twerking which I won't get you started on.

And I don't know that this is an example of producers conspiring to make Shreveport's ratchet music popular or if they are just raiding their inventory four sounds that suit that millionaire's sense of what sounds black, but either way we wind up with a situation in which something with a complicated (and conflicted) history just becomes a context-free tool for a white performer

Besides, I never said any of this is good, or the product is some kind of legit expression of the ratchet movement. I'm just questioning why it is being produced. You yourself don't know whether it is producers trying to make something popular or if she just had the cash.

But everyone involved isn't a notable hip-hop artis

I was talking about her album really.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:59 PM on August 27, 2013


I'm not following the point you're making. She's been repeatedly accused of appropriation, by, might I add, a number of African-American commenters, and you doubt this because you have invented some sort of conspiracy of a tiny cadre of rap producers to popularize the music of Shreveport?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:03 AM on August 28, 2013


Well first, I'm not sure how Shreveport got dragged into this aside from the birthplace of a word.It is pretty clear We Cant't Stop, the song she performed at the VMA draws on multiple influences.

I just think simply accusing her of appropriation is somewhat simplistic, because of the tiny cadre of producers who actually produced it, I didn't invent them.

I also didn't invent the album she is working on with Pharrell, you think they are trying to make the music unpopular or something?
posted by Ad hominem at 12:14 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The one thing you can say for Madonna was that even in her early career, her persona was that of a genuinely independent adult woman - you got the sense that she was in charge of her music career and saw it as a career. Whereas these Miley Cyrus nymphet figures - their personae are much more about not really having careers so much as authentically being nothing but young, over-sexed and self-destructuve.

It's a great example of how innovation and experimentation gets captured by capitalism and mainstreamed. The music industry took what Madonna did twenty-thirty years ago as a template, dumbed it done, sexed it up, took control away from the artist and out came Britney and Christina and Miley and...
posted by MartinWisse at 12:17 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the first time I've encountered "Shreveport music", "ratchet," and their history, so I suppose this Cyrus debacle has done some small good in my life.
posted by AdamCSnider at 12:18 AM on August 28, 2013


Shreveport isn't just the origin of the word. It's the origin of the style of music called ratchet.

I also didn't invent the album she is working on with Pharrell, you think they are trying to make the music unpopular or something?

No. I think they're trying to make money.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:19 AM on August 28, 2013


Shreveport isn't just the origin of the word. It's the origin of the style of music called ratchet.

What does it have in common with the song she performed on the VMAs. Aside from twerking, what is the connection here. I honestly don't know, I'm no expert on music from Shreveport.

I do however think the title is a reference to Sure Shot and the line "la-di da-di, we like to party" was written by guys in Queens.

No. I think they're trying to make money.

Exactly. This cadre I invented are all making money and getting exposure.

This isn't a case of someone recording a long lost blues song. Cyrus and a whole bunch of other people are engaging in a business relationship where she performs and they produce.

She is appropriating yet they aren't? Even when they write the words? Even when they get a cut? Do they have any culpability here? What if there is a huge demand for legit Shreveport music and 200 unknown artists make money? These are the questions I want to ask. This is why I think simply saying she is appropriating may be simplistic.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:40 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah. I'm just still up in the air what kind of appropriation it is if everyone involved in the project is a notable hip-hop artist, with the exception of her.

Just because black artists or hip-hop people are working with her doesn't not make it appropriation, because there are always people willing to "sell out" for various reasons. And of course for a hip-hop artist there are advantages of working with a pop star like Cyrus (or Timberlake before her) apart from the paycheck, exposure to a new audience, going mainstream (for certain values of mainstream), gaining respectability etc. They're exploiting her perhaps as much as the other way around.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:57 AM on August 28, 2013


Also, having a black hip-hop artist or producer working on your album appropriating black music is the "but I have a black friend" of the music industry, n'est pas?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:59 AM on August 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


For me, that VMA performance just felt like my TILT moment about the utter shamelessness with which crass, vapid, commercialism-trumps-all music can so easily be shoved down our throats. It'd be one thing if she was just providing some lighthearted bubblegum entertainment without any pretense of depth. I could maybe even forgive her (and Robin Thicke, for that matter) for such ridiculously obvious product placements in their videos. But the audacity of actually gunning for content and cultural references that have real meaning for many people--and getting it SO VERY WRONG--doesn't just insult me as a consumer, it offends me as a person.

The thing is, I just don't believe there is, or has ever been, any "there" there with Miley -- which I wouldn't say for Madonna, Macklemore, Lady Gaga, Eminem et al.. Sure, as a kid she was talented enough and attractive enough to be a financially sound casting choice for "Hannah Montana," and it's no big surprise that she (and her people) have successfully capitalized on that to make it into the forefront of pop culture, but in this current incarnation, her ignorance and hubris and shallow soullessness have just gotten too painful for me to stomach.

That notorious admission that she had never heard a Jay Z song (her explanation being "I don't listen to pop music") was while she was in the middle of a freakin' world tour on the success of "Party in the U.S.A.." As she said, "Honestly, I picked that song because I needed something to go with my clothing line." Okay, fine. That was in 2009. At that point you could (almost) be sympathetic to her lack of self- or cultural awareness, and how little say she apparently had in how she and her act were being produced and packaged for consumption... but now, that hollow ringing sound isn't just coming from a pop star marketed to tweens, it's from someone who feels entitled to adult audiences' attention, and will apparently stoop to absolutely anything to get it, without any checks on her authenticity or originality or talent or basic human respect or common fucking sense.

I mean, UGH.
posted by argonauta at 1:06 AM on August 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Listen if it wasn't ur cup of tea - all good but why is everyone spazzing? Hey - she's doin something right. We all talkin,"

Next up, someone will retaliate over the pejorative term "spazzing". If the UN doesn't step in this is going to spiral out of control.

Celebrity factions are forming up on what could be our darkest night.

Is this the eve of a war for the soul of tinseltown?
posted by Mezentian at 1:29 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


That is the worst treatment for a The Crow sequel that I've ever encountered, and I've seen all of them.
posted by Errant at 2:44 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


and will apparently stoop to absolutely anything to get it, without any checks on her authenticity or originality or talent or basic human respect or common fucking sense.

You do realize you're talking about Miley Cyrus, right? What did you have, high hopes or something?
posted by ShutterBun at 4:34 AM on August 28, 2013


I don't disagree with you, generally speaking. But we are talking about the Middle East, which the US has shaped and manipulated to its economic and military benefit for the last century or so. To state that Syria is somehow exempt of these considerations just because critics talk critically about the United States ignores a lot of history. Certainly, those in the Middle East are all too aware of these issues, so to call their criticism "post-hoc" is also a bit dismissive, too.

I'm a historian who has published academic research articles on US intervention in the Middle East, that doesn't mean I'm an expert it just means I'm not likely to ignore history. What history is being ignored by people who say that oil isn't the primary factor for potential intervention of Syria? Did oil cause NATO's intervention in Libya? Lebanon in 1958, and 1982? The airlift during the October war?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:00 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yea, the framing kinda bugs me honestly. Just because all your facebook friends and a bunch of blogs and "news" sites are mixing the two together for maximum outrage and pageviews means that we have to? I think the thread linking the two as "lol the media is focusing on this and not this" is pretty thin, and that it's just carrying that thin premise in to a thread that just gets confusing when people try and actually sit down and have serious discussions about both in one place.

Did you read the links in the FPP? I included a link to an abstract and a discussion by an academic about a journal on this very phenomenon published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:07 AM on August 28, 2013


THIS is the Syria thread? Yipes.
posted by agregoli at 7:23 AM on August 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


It makes more sense if you twerk while reading the thread.
posted by planetesimal at 7:37 AM on August 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


I can't twerk due to lower-back problems, but I am known to do The Wop, and I'm also known for the Flintstone Flop.
posted by Cookiebastard at 7:53 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, having a black hip-hop artist or producer working on your album appropriating black music is the "but I have a black friend" of the music industry, n'est pas?

I actually think that is insulting to the producers she is working with. Pharrell has been doing this a long time. He certainly has agency here and I can't see him being someone's excuse.

I don't even think we have a difference of opinion here I just seeing a guy like Pharrell as having a larger role than being Cyrus's black friend.

I'm going to drop this so they can talk about Syria without this noise.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:57 AM on August 28, 2013


One more thing Miley Cyrus working with Kanye West on Black Skinhead remix.

Now that is strange.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:03 AM on August 28, 2013


Camille Paglia's Time piece claims the big butt dancer was a 6 foot 7 inch tall male. Also I tried to find my favorite tongue stick out scene but it's not on you tube. In The Ninth Gate there is a murder aftermath scene where there is a rich book dealer confined to a motorized wheelchair and she has been strangled and the tongue is dangling out Gene Simmons style from her mouth as the wheelchair is stuck in a two position oscillation and her bookstore is burning.

The only reason that is my favorite such scene is that otherwise I love the movie. Looking at people with their tongues stuck out is gross. I haven't seen anybody I know do that in real life since I was in grade school. It's on a level with chewing up a mouth full of food and then showing it to people while you all are eating.
posted by bukvich at 10:27 AM on August 28, 2013


Looking at people with their tongues stuck out is gross.

Guys that age like to fart and burp. Maybe Miley likes to stick out her tongue because it's gross.

Also, how did we get to 300 comments here without one shout-out to Lil B?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:21 AM on August 28, 2013


Why would Miley Cyrus want to use a high level character to give gold and powerful items to a low level character? It ruins the game for everyone else.
posted by freecellwizard at 11:34 AM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's "twinking" not "twerking".
posted by Justinian at 11:42 AM on August 28, 2013


THIS is the Syria thread? Yipes.

There's also this one, but it fails to note the role of twerking in international affairs.
posted by homunculus at 11:47 AM on August 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Known by the neologism of intwerknational affairs
posted by zombieflanders at 11:56 AM on August 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pharrell has been doing this a long time.

No offense to Pharrell, but he works with anybody with a large enough bag of money for him.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:13 PM on August 28, 2013


I would like to know how many of the talking heads in the media who are so outraged about Miley were equally outraged when Chris Brown was let back on stage for the Grammys. Because fuck everyone who thinks this thing with Miley is a bigger deal.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:34 PM on August 28, 2013


I was about to mention that Pharrell is working with Chris Brown, so his filter for who he works with isn't all that dependable.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:42 PM on August 28, 2013


This is the greatest mash-up thread ever, with mentions of Shreveport music connections and academic journal citations being only the beginning. Just noting this, for the record. Carry on.
posted by raysmj at 1:48 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]



No offense to Pharrell, but he works with anybody with a large enough bag of money for him.


and some who don't ...
as Nardwuar's activities are (at least to some degree) underwritten by Pharrell. I suspect if you asked him why, he'd say, because it pleases him. The guy's got his fingers in all manner of stews, and good on 'im for that. Call him a player.
posted by philip-random at 2:12 PM on August 28, 2013


Sure he likes money, who doesn't. Add all the people who they may be paying for features, Wiz Khalifa, Nicki Minaj,Juicy J.

Now she is working with Kanye West.Maybe she is paying to appear on his remix EP

We just accused a lot of people of being totally feckless. Assisting with the appropriation of Shreveport culture for cash.

There is the cadre I invented.

Maybe they straight up doing it for cash, or maybe there are other reasons.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:01 PM on August 28, 2013


Twerking is a fad organized by the chiropractic industry to guarantee a steady supply of patients decades from now.
posted by Renoroc at 7:43 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Onion Denies Taking A Serious Line On Syria: Satire or campaigning? The Onion has been one of the most consistent voices on Syria for months.
posted by homunculus at 8:31 PM on August 28, 2013


I like money, though.
posted by raysmj at 8:43 PM on August 28, 2013


One more thing Miley Cyrus working with Kanye West on Black Skinhead remix.

This better not be true.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:00 PM on August 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm late to the thread, but this blog post explains an even bigger reason for the Robin Thicke/Miley Cyrus performance to be worth complaining about. In short: the "blurred lines" are referring to consent, and the song is creepy.
posted by vira at 9:10 PM on August 28, 2013


There is no way that you can listen to or read the phrase "blurred lines" as meaning consent. No half way reasonable person is going to think Robin is explicitly saying "I hate consent". It simply makes no sense in the context of the song.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 9:29 PM on August 28, 2013


No one's arguing that Robin Thicke is saying "I hate consent". They're arguing that the song considers consent to be irrelevant, because women have pre-consented by virtue of being women who have "animals" inside their "good girl" demeanor. The only reason they're saying no is that they need to appear to be good girls, but Robin Thicke knows they really want it and want to say yes. He hates the "blurred lines" between a woman's sexually voracious and insatiable nature and the socially acceptable, coquettish mask they are forced to wear by "nice guys" who try to "domesticate" women, presumably by accepting no for an answer and not "doing it like it hurt". T.I. is a nice guy, but he won't be nice to his partner, because he "knows" that that's not what his partner wants.

Robin Thicke is going to "liberate" these women. He will have rough sex with them, because he knows they want it, and at the end they will thank him. The lines he hates are the boundaries that women put up instead of just having sex with him like they really want to and like they will be so grateful to have done, if they would just admit it. He's not saying that he hates consent. He's saying that he already has it, regardless of what they say, and in fact the more they say no, the more "domesticated" they are, enslaved to some "square" who won't treat them like the gleeful whores that they are, and the more clearly in need of "liberation". Hey, hey, hey.
posted by Errant at 2:24 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Just a reminder that we had a whole thread about the Blurred Lines / consent or not thing recently, so it would be good if this didn't become all about that again.]
posted by taz at 3:06 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Errant, your explanation was very thorough but damn difficult to twerk to.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:47 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


If there is one thing hip hop artists are known for, it is their aversion to the corrupting influence of money in their music!
posted by vibrotronica at 7:45 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Robin Thicke's a sexist moron for how he talks about making the video, but that reading is not supported by the actual text of the song, which requires pretty serious cherry picking to conclude that the "blurred lines" are about consent. In the text of the song, the girl is the actor, grabbing the guys, and TI expects her to choose him, but she does not.

I realize there's a fucked up rape culture in America, but much of the criticism is based on willful misrepresentation and a seeming desire to use Blurred Lines as a critique of rape culture due to popularity more than the actual text.
posted by klangklangston at 8:30 AM on August 29, 2013


[Folks, please don't turn this into a consent discussion. It's an off topic fight-brewing derail.]
posted by jessamyn at 8:34 AM on August 29, 2013


Sorry, mods, I never saw that thread. Apologies.
posted by Errant at 9:39 AM on August 29, 2013


I'm so white-bread-privileged I was completely taken aback reading these:

Miley Cyrus' Twerking: The Joke Is on Black Women

and, same author:

Brown Body, White Wonderland
posted by lordaych at 11:25 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


This better not be true.

He's worked with all sorts of people like skrillex and future and the tracks never made it on an album.

It may never be on his rumored remix EP but I'll bet money it "leaks"

BTW, I figure some of you may not know this, outside Shreveport, where it is some kind of movement it seems, "ratchet" means "wretched", new term for "ghetto", so don't go throwing it around.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:52 PM on August 29, 2013


Yeah, as urban dictionary lamentably puts it, a ratchet has only one purpose: to get a nut off. It didn't start out as flattery.
posted by Errant at 5:32 PM on August 29, 2013


Look at that Juicy J FPP. Nobody here ever heard of that guy until Miley Cyrus went on stage with him. That is what I'm talking about. She brings mainstream attention to people who have been struggling in near anonymity for years, despite having won an academy award.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:47 PM on August 29, 2013


What are you talking about? The only person in that thread who says nobody had heard of him is you. I had heard of him. "Bandz a Make Her Dance" went platinum!

I'm sure the people who didn't know his name before Miley Cyrus still don't know him name.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:07 PM on August 29, 2013


Nobody here ever heard of that guy until Miley Cyrus went on stage with him.

three six mafia man c'mon
posted by klangklangston at 8:21 PM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw Juicy Jay and Three Six Mafia play at Issac Hayes' club in Memphis on the night of the Hustle & Flow premiere. They were awful.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:30 PM on August 29, 2013


Cyrus gave salvia a bad name also. Just an empty twerk all around.
posted by planetesimal at 9:47 PM on August 29, 2013


Yeah, shit, salvia pretty much sums her up, dunnit?
posted by klangklangston at 9:54 PM on August 29, 2013


Ok ok, I got a little over zealous about some of the comments there.

You guys heard of him, I wasn't including any of you anyway since we alread discussed him in this thread.

I'm adding rap, particularly anything that has to do with fucking Miley Cyrus, to my list of shit I'm keeping away from online. Too much agita.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:44 PM on August 29, 2013


She shoots. She scores!
posted by telstar at 12:51 AM on August 30, 2013


I am known to do The Wop

I do the rock, myself.
posted by ShutterBun at 2:24 AM on August 30, 2013


I somehow missed this thread. I guess it's kind of late for me to chime in that my opinion is that Cyrus should fire everyone that works for her and get all new friends because somebody should have told her that her act was… terrible. Just really terrible. Furthermore, I'm kind of stunned so many were scandalized by it's "sexiness." When she stuck out her tongue it wasn't sexy. She looked like a mental patient.

Now, as for the whole thing being a giant cultural appropriation rip off, it was kind of obvious but I didn't realize the real magintude of her transgression until I read through this thread, and especially litleozy's link. I've never been a huge hip-hop fan. The only legitimate rap records I have in my everyday personal playlist are "George Bush Don't Like Black People" by The Legendary K.O. and "Reagan" by Killer Mike. Point being, I don't really keep up with hip-hop qua hip-hop and was entirely unaware of the origins of twerking and the "rachet" sound. My sincere thanks to litleozy, Bunny Ultramod, et al. for the education.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:31 AM on August 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh what fresh hell is this?

Also, Cyrus' new album is called Bangerz? Jesus wept.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:57 AM on August 30, 2013


Also, Cyrus' new album is called Bangerz? Jesus wept.

That's the album Pharrell is working on with her. Probably going to have that Mike Will track 23 I linked unthread somewhere. Also features Wiz Khalifa and Nicki Minaj.

I actually linked that in the last Pharrell thread.

I do follow hip-hop qua hip-hop.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:29 AM on August 30, 2013


This slow-motion wedding video will renew your faith in love
posted by homunculus at 8:21 PM on August 30, 2013


"ratchet" means "wretched"

a ratchet has only one purpose: to get a nut off.

When men, such as LL Cool J and Juicy J, use it, it's a term used to mock a certain stereotype of (supposedly money-hungry, trashy black) women.

I'm starting to get a distinct feeling that although there is some truly hurtful negative usage and connotations to this term depending on who says it and with what intent, that its like... What the fuck does it actually mean?

The "ghetto" answer seems the most accurate from what I've heard, but it's like a significantly more fucked up version of "hipster" or something where I never get the same answer from two people in a row.

A lot of the answers I heard also sound like NBC nightly news talking about some new Internet phenomenon and making up their own ridiculous hyperbolic off base definitions. Just saying.

There does seem to be a weird misogynistic bent to it, but there's definitely a lot more to it than that.
posted by emptythought at 11:40 AM on August 31, 2013


As far as I can tell, it is similar to "ghetto," except that ghetto is something that has been completely absconded by white people are used with near total disregarding for racist implications. And, depending on which rapper is using the term ratchet, it can be a sort of celebration of the social behavior that the dominant culture typically disregards (similar, in a way, to the way South African hip hop has embraced "zef"), and a way of mocking that behavior. The latter seems especially the case when men refer to women as ratchet -- those sorts of songs is where you will most often find some pretty flagrant examples of misogyny.

NY Mag has some discussion about how the phrase has been interpreted both positively and negative, and introduces something that I don't think has been brought up in this thread -- how members of the gay community have absorbed the term because it describes a style that members of the gay community see as authentic:

A man or woman can be ratchet in a way that emphasizes their authenticity, their realness, or their fierceness — another word that entered our lexicon in the past decade, in part due to Tyra Banks and her Top Model series. Like that last one, the term is sometimes used by young gay men in a complimentary context, something akin to “hot mess.”

...
“If you look at what the word refers to, it’s something gay men are really enamored with: a fucked up look. Someone who’s trying and doesn’t quite get it. If you’re insulting it by calling something ‘ratchet’, you’re flirting with it.”

posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:10 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


So what do you think the odds are congress will reach a definitive conclusion re:Miley Cyrus before Syria?
posted by Artw at 2:02 PM on August 31, 2013


I believe Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) is already on record as opposing Miley Cyrus intervention, blaming the budget cuts resulting from sequestration as diminishing our ability to respond to imminent twerking threats.
posted by Dr. Zira at 5:44 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Inhofe also implied that the Twerk Attack on America was actually God’s retribution against the United States for failing to adequately back Israel. You know, like 9/11.
posted by homunculus at 6:39 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually Israel has no interest in twerking and has tried to minimise its involvement in ratchet. Israel is a pluralistic society with different opinions on pop music and it it is ridiculously conspiratorial to suggest that Miley was directed or even inspired by the Israeli Top-40.

I do not seek to defend its Eurovision song entries. I acknowledge that mistakes were made.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:57 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


This threat has introduced me to a new concept in "ratchet". Wherever I have heard it before I assumed it was slang for "rat shit".

Language is officially changing too fast for me.
posted by Mezentian at 12:37 AM on September 1, 2013


Oh, holy shit, my Mom was debating the Miley Twerk tonight at a family event with the WASPy wife of a friend of my bother's. They both agreed it was The End of Western Civilization, while my wife and I and my brother and his friend and sister-in-law and our sister and sister's hubby were all making "sign of the devil" at each other while singing "Number of the Beast" en Portuguese (as our in-laws are all Cabo Verde e Azores e Brazllian)

GET BACK TO TWERK!

(On the other hand, I did also learn that I am the eldest of the last of the True Campbells, the ones the Highlands pubs all have signs up saying "No Dogs or Campbells allowed" for. So, come at me, bro!)

En vino veritas. Srysly.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:20 PM on September 1, 2013


That NYMag intro to ratchetness quotes some folks who have written much more about what ratchet means:

Michaela Angela Davis: It’s Time to Bury the Ratchet

Exhuming the Ratchet before it’s Buried

Sisters Supporting Sisters: Four Women Doing Their Part to Change Negative Black Reality TV

I Been On (Ratchet): Conceptualizing a Sonic Ratchet Aesthetic in Beyonce's "Bow Down"

(Un)Clutching My Mother’s Pearls, or Ratchetness and the Residue of Respectability

The ratchet discussion has been happening among feminists/black feminists for a while now. Best to go right to the source.
posted by mediareport at 8:59 PM on September 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Bezosington Post's Richard Cohen attempts to connect Miley Cyrus' twerkitude to the rape in Steubenville, with predictable results.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:46 AM on September 3, 2013


Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball (Nicolas Cage Edition) (nsfw)
posted by homunculus at 11:38 AM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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