Students discuss Miley Cyrus’s MTV Video Music Awards performance


John Wilhelm

Juniors Mansuda Arora and Sonja Mischke discuss the logistics of twerking. “[Miley] is mocking black culture,” Mischke said. “When is that ever okay?”

A teaspoon of teddy bears, two tablespoons of twerking, and a heaping helping of repression—the perfect recipe for Miley Cyrus’s performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. Her performance received mixed reviews, to say the least.

“It’s not right,” sophomore Justin Zanaska said. “Young people watching the VMAs or her music videos are scarred. They can never un-see it.”

“The VMA performance was over the top,” senior Emun Solomon said.  But, he continued, “You can’t be surprised. It’s not like she’s the only Disney star doing it—I feel like it’s overhyped.”

Miley’s performance also raised issues of cultural appropriation.

“[The performance] is making fun of black culture,” junior Mansuda Arora said. “Twerking isn’t something that just came up in the clubs. It’s rooted in African dance. When people watch Miley Cyrus twerk, they see it as a joke.” The Mapouka, a traditional African dance from Côte d’Ivoire, is strikingly similar to twerking, and largely believed to be its predecessor.

“Miley Cyrus’ VMA performance was only offensive in that twerking is cultural appropriation,” junior Sarah Little agreed. But otherwise, she said, “I’m not going to shame her for what she does with her body. She’s an adult.”