|No, sorry, I'm at a loss to explain this...|
|Miley and her Bears. Before she pulled her swimsuit off. And twerked Mr Thicke.|
Oh, before I go on, 'Twerking' is a sort of dancing where you bend about. The word is possibly a portmanteau of 'twist' and 'jerk'. It has cultural significance which are lost by the time it reaches the masses, I must admit, because really in this context, it seems to merely signify extrovert libidinal urges. You heard me. Anyway, talking of urges...
|Bocca Baciata (1859) D G Rossetti|
|Miley twerks a lady, because that's what grown-ups do.|
Just out of shot is Mrs Walker having a sit down with a book,
which is also what grown-ups do.
|Venus Verticordia (1865) D G Rossetti|
To be honest, the sexy-sex bit of the performance was not as shocking as a few people seemed to declare it. No-one was struck dead by God, really, let's not forget it was a lady pretending to do stuff whilst wearing a gianty foam finger. Rather more disturbing was the fact that Miley 'borrowed' rather heavily from another culture, or rather paraded a lot of nasty cultural stereotypes about to declare something 'cool' about her.
|Miley and a friend. Oh dear.|
|Miley does a 'selfie' in the mirror|
|The Blue Bower (1865) D G Rossetti|
|The Beloved D G Rossetti|
|Gwen Stefani and Love, Angel, Music and Baby, her Harajuku Girls|
On the other hand, Culture-picking is used for amusement, to say how funny others are, belittling and patronising and using cultural objects and attitudes deeply inappropriately. We also misuse things to reaffirm our prejudice. Some of us use other cultures for monetary gain. Then it gets really offensive. A tshirt that sums up even a tiny aspect of another culture as 'Sex, Drugs and Rap' is disturbing because it glamorizes something that harms whilst book-ending it with two big stereotypes.
But then how about this...?
|Yes, you know this one.|
Sorry for the rambling, but the more I think about cultural appropriation, the bigger the problem is. I have been told that my style of dress and behaviour is deeply offensive. Whilst I do not waggle my bottom against random men while playing at being 'Gangsta', I do wear a circle skirt, net petticoats and am known for my enthusiasm for baking. I was informed I was playing at being oppressed, and could not possibly appreciate how much I would hate actually being a 1950s housewife. Now that may be true but I did not for a moment consider how borrowing from the past could be the same as borrowing from a modern culture (albeit a stereotype of one). When the Pre-Raphaelites reached back to embrace Medievalism did they really know what they were doing, or was it because it suited an aesthetic? William Morris wished to recreate the handcrafting of belongings, just like the good old days, but for our ancestors work tended to be hard and cut short by limb-loss and death.
I have no answers for all of this. I would be interested to hear what you have to say and if you would like to see some of the modern things I refer to, here are some links:
If you want to see Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke's performance at the VMA Awards, here it is. Have a sit down and a stiff drink, you'll be fine.
If you want to see Miley's We Can't Stop video, here it is. Again, a stiff drink will sort it out.
For Gwen Stefani's Alice in Wonderland inspired, Harajuku anthem What You Waiting For? look here.