Twerk-Offs: Rightbloggers Ride Out the Summer With Miley Cyrus
Their traditional relief valve has been culture war -- shaking fists at some recent outrage to morals. It's easy and fun! But in their last great kulturkampf effulgence, the "War on Women" craze of the 2012 elections, that strategy seemed to backfire, and since then most of their offerings in this line have been ad hoc, individual, and unlikely to catch the popular imagination -- for example, a National Review writer defending his right to seize and toss a theater patron's cellphone as a victory for civility.
So thank Miley Cyrus for providing them -- and us! -- an easy layup to end the summer.
You've probably seen how most people dealt with Cyrus' grisly attempt at sexy dancing at the Video Music Awards: With scorn and derision. What was expressed in the best of these, like the Breaking Bad mashup, was not so much outrage as enjoyment of outrage, like a shared shudder after a gross scene in a slasher flick. It ruffled the internet like a zephyr across a vast savanna, and the moment passed; Cyrus' people announced she and Justin Bieber had a number called "Twerk" coming out, and everyone went home happy.
Some heavy thinkers had more serious complaints about the Cyrus gig. Jody Rosen at Vulture, among others, thought Cyrus' act was a "minstrel show," appropriating from and demeaning to black people -- which we sorta see, but for pop music, alas, that's just another day at the office and has been for decades.
Others went waaaaaaay further. As he has with other Hollywood starlets, Vigilant Citizen portrayed the incident as proof that Cyrus was a "beta slave" programmed by the Illuminati to oh God go read it yourselves it's amazing. And someone named Freeman asked, "Why is Miley's performance important to our nation? Simply stated, Global Mind Control." He posited that Cyrus summoned the "unleashed form of Kali... the fearful and ferocious form of the mother goddess... this is wartime propaganda and Disney has been at the heart of it since WWII." Syria went unmentioned, but if you're astute enough to be reading Freeman you can connect the dots, we guess.
And what of the rightbloggers? It would seem the universal derision of Cyrus convinced them they could finally make common cause with the sheeple on matters of public morality. Why, maybe it could be just like the old days, when attacks on Murphy Brown and The Simpsons endeared them to middle Americans.
In their handling of this particularly event, however, they were less like the popular internet jokesters and wiseguys, and a lot more like Vigilant Citizen and Freeman.
Michelle Malkin, for example, announced she'd seen this all coming in 2008, when 15-year-old Cyrus did a semi-nude photo shoot for Vanity Fair.
Such carefully-constructed scandalettes have made Cyrus' career an enormous income-generating machine, but Malkin steered readers away from this no doubt Marxian analysis. "The Disney girls gone bad of Hollywood are not created in a vacuum," Malkin warned. "They have many, many enablers. Before focusing on corporations like MTV, though, we need first to look at the closest adults who surround these damaged youths." She referred back to her own 2008 column on the cover shoot, in which he blamed "parents without scruples" -- meaning Cyrus' father Billy Ray, a showbiz figure with a fine Christian pedigree -- as well as photographer Annie Leibovitz.
"Leibovitz has a reputation for talking subjects into titillating poses under the guise of 'art,'" snarled Malkin. For example, "She put Demi Moore naked and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair." That was in 1991: Shortly thereafter, Clinton won the Presidency. In a later shoot, "[Scarlett] Johansson's back side was completely exposed." Thus do empires fall!
Why he didn't use Assad as Robin Thicke, we'll never know.
At The American Spectator, Matt Purple announced, "The entertainment industry has done with Cyrus what it does with most young child stars, and especially female ones: Tear them away from their parents, chew up all their moneymaking potential, then spit them out damaged and morally adrift." We assume his description of the role of the Illuminati in these transformations was removed by editors.
Purple was pleased, though, that ordinary writers had criticized the act -- not on grounds of taste or anything secular like that, but because "moral outrage over sex is usually considered tacky, practiced only by hidebound social conservatives who want to send us back to the days of Hester Prynne or something. So to see it being leveled against Cyrus with such intensity might seem encouraging." Soon scolding would be in, and Purple's mounting majesty might be recognized!
But Purple was not satisfied: "...consider Cyrus's fellow VMA performer Lady Gaga, who spent most of last night wearing what can only be described as a G-string minus most of the string," he seethed, "flaunting her bare derriere... Yet there's been almost no moral outrage over Gaga's exhibitionism." So despite their Cyrus snark, the liberal media remain corrupt! Probably a good thing for Purple's career in the long run.
William Teach of Right Wing News was also mad at Lady Gaga for "running around on stage wearing a thong... This seems to be what society has been moving towards. Remember the horrendous Beyonce Super Bowl halftime?" Actually, no, and neither does anyone else, but Teach went on about that and "the 'if it feels good, do it' culture," and how "liberals and feminists more and more want to turn young women into sexualized adults, rather than just letting them be kids."
No links with that feminism bit, alas, but maybe he was just channeling Rush Limbaugh, who declared "feminists... are the ones who are upset about it," which he found hypocritical, "because they're the ones who told us, 'Little girls are gonna have sex. You can't stop it. So introduce them to Planned Parenthood, introduce them to condoms, introduce them to cigarettes afterwards on the nightstand, introduce 'em to rooms in your house instead of the backseat of the car.'" We're not sure, but we think he's quoting from The Female Eunuch.
"When was the last time you felt patriotic joy about America?" asked Mark Judge at The Daily Caller. Probably a while, said Judge, thanks to "Obama's crippled economy, Bloombergian buzzkills who want to tell us what we can eat and drink, global warming panic, and liberals wailing that if one person is hungry the USA is a concentration camp." Things were different through the 1980s, when "Reagan slapped us back to life after the Carter malaise," said Judge, but "even though the 1990s were a good economic time, something during that time soured in the culture." (ClintonClintonBlowjobClinton.) And now Miley Cyrus: "Watching her catastrophe," said Judge, "I was reminded of something the great historian James Hitchcock once observed," blah blah blah and eventually "the thing about narcissism and liberalism is that there are no limits. Al Sharpton and the grim faces on MSNBC will be angry the rest of their lives, so matter how much social progress is made, because in order to feel like virtuous people, they have created identities for themselves as truth speakers and activists... Miley's manic acting out on stage was a desperate attempt at legitimacy and feeling. How tragic that she and her country have lost the ability to experience real joy."
Maybe Judge saw a Director's Cut of the number with very different footage from the one we saw; does anyone have a copy?
National Review's Kathryn J. Lopez said, "it's hard to get too upset or outraged by anything that happens on MTV," but showed she was up to the task. "People were repulsed by the performance because it was crass and base, an ugly display in the name of entertainment on an awards night," she said. "But as college students settle in on campuses, isn't this just the scene next Friday night after a first or second week of classes?" We haven't been to college in a long time; maybe this is why they're charging so much for it now. In a follow-up, Lopez asked, "Are we mad as hell yet, or happy to dirty dance (now 'twerking,' what Cyrus did to Thicke on national television) our way there?" Seems a hard way to cross the River Styx; maybe Charon could offer a booze cruise.
When it was pointed out to James Lileks that Cyrus might build sales off the outrage, he thundered this "reminds you that some people see the world as a cash machine, and if your PIN is the numeric equivalent of S-L-U-T, punch it in. Of course that's a bad term, S-L-U-T, except when it's a good term thrown back at those who regard it as a bad term. Doeth what thou wilt so long as it shall hurt no one. We are all Crowleyans now." Wow, from Miley Cyrus to "SlutWalk" feminists to The Great Beast 666, and in one sentence! Lileks has still got it.
Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit also got in on the feminist angle: "If you wish for men to behave as they did in past times," he wrote, "you may have to live with women behaving as they did in past times, too. In the age of Miley Cyrus and Sandra Fluke, that doesn't seem especially likely." Boy, they can't quit Sandra Fluke, huh? You'd think they'd learn.
At PJ Media, Roger L. Simon's tottering rightwing media empire, they need all the linkbait they can get, so the Cyrus act was good for at least a dozen items. Some of these were cryptic one-liners, e.g. "Miley Cyrus Needs Tough Love (Jennifer Graham)." Others just went on and on and on about filth on the TV, and Weimar Germany.