(The Root) — Miley Cyrus made a fool of herself before and during her performance at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday. She showed up on the red carpet in designer (Dolce & Gabbana) spandex, wagging her tongue and humping the air — her version, I believe, of twerking.
Once onstage, Cyrus — bafflingly dressed in a bear-studded onesie, with her hair “styled” in a cross between black-girl Bantu knots and Jim Carrey’s Vera de Milo from In Living Color — seemingly lost her mind. Not only was there was more tongue-wagging, but Cyrus stripped down to a skin-colored bikini that revealed a less-than-shapely rear (that was widely ridiculed on social media) and simulated sexual acts on the rear end of a big black woman and on one of those foam “We’re No. 1” fingers that fans wave at sporting events. The “highlight” of the performance was Cyrus bending over in front of Robin Thicke to shake her cake on his pelvis.
Call Cyrus’ MTV spectacle — and all of her desperate cries for attention — lewd. Call it trashy. And vulgar. But whatever you do, do not call this mess that Cyrus is doing “black.”
Cyrus can surround herself with a thousand big-bootied black women onstage or use a million more, essentially as props, in her videos to achieve some disillusioned version of street cred, but that doesn’t make what she’s doing anything close to authentically black, especially when she can’t even get her backside to pop properly. Citing a love of hood music or picking Lil’ Kim to be something akin to her spirit guide doesn’t make her more “real” or “down” or anything but a white girl acting like a middle-America white girl who is trying too hard. (Am I the only one who sees the irony of a white girl trying to relate to blackness by picking a black woman who has severely altered her features to look more white?)
It is troubling and annoying and offensive to hear Cyrus’ actions equated with black culture, as if black folk are the only ones known to act a damn fool. To be clear, some of us do. But some people from every culture do, too.
Cyrus’ behavior easily can be equated to Girls Gone Wild, which mostly featured white girls on spring break in Cancún, Mexico, gyrating and flashing their boobs to anyone who would watch. And her trashy outfits aren’t a far cry from anybody featured on the website People of Walmart, dedicated to the worst fashion disasters of white people in middle America. One can say that Cyrus is acting like trailer park trash, too, not just “ghetto,” since poor folks without the benefits of home training act the same way in both locales.
Call Cyrus’ behavior what it actually is: a modern-day minstrel show — sans the blackface — featuring a white girl with disturbing (to put it mildly) ideas about black people, or just a plain ol’ white girl gone wild. But whatever you do, don’t call it ”acting black.”