Twerking is a dance move — in the most generous sense possible — of moving your backside up and down rapidly, with a thrust from the hips giving it a “pop.” But the reason twerking is so discussable is because the move is usually done in a squatting position or while bent over — as if close to someone else’s pelvis, real or imagined. Which leaves absolutely nothing to be imagined.
It’s basically every mother’s worst nightmare alongside a pole, wall, dance floor or person. Unless you are Miley Cyrus’ mom. Then it may just be cause to applaud.
Which is how twerking crossed its tipping point last Sunday night and made it into the mainstream vernacular via Twitter when Miley Cyrus (aka Hannah Montana from The Disney Channel, FKA Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter and soon to be known as either the new Madonna or the next Lindsay Lohan) stole most of the show at the VMAs twerking it and generating more than 300,000 tweets per minute of discussion.
But twerking is not new. It is largely credited to 2 Live Crew in the 1980s, right around the time MTV was born (or Caribbean dancehall music if you want to be precise). It’s been mentioned in song lyrics for decades, including by Beyonce almost 10 years ago. But after Sunday night, when Cyrus twerked everything from Alan Thicke’s son to giant stuffed animals, while simultaneously mimicking Gene Simmons’ tongue moves AND ALSO moving an oversized sports hand under her vinyl underwear (which, by the way, was all she was wearing), the term may have also made its way into an elementary school near you.
Now, I agree with Miley’s dad, who noted that the world would be a better place if we all spread more love and less hate — especially in the media — even if his daughter’s performance inspired me to disconnect my cable TV until my children leave for college.
I don’t wish Miley any ill will. She put on a big show, which was her job. I just wish that she would have had a different kind of message. Like the kind Justin Timberlake displayed at the VMAs, which was the only performance that Miley couldn’t upstage that night. Timberlake (aka JT, FKA the guy from N’Sync and soon to be known as either the next Michael Jackson or the new Prince) was the moon-man incarnate this year. (That’s what the VMA award trophy looks like and JT won four of them this year.)
The VMAs were jokingly being touted as just the backdrop for the much anticipated N’Sync reunion, which did not disappoint and was handled oh-so differently. But where Miley crucified her former image, JT seemed to embrace his own, which just made him more of the guy who brought sexy back (big song of his a couple of years back —really good for actual dancing).
But rather than critique artists’ choices (or pretend to understand the pressure of staying on top when you start your career there and have 50 years ahead of you to try and remain current), I’d rather say that I just felt sad for all women watching the naked, lascivious simulation acts on Sunday.
Because if this is what a beautiful, multi-talented person chose to showcase about herself at the biggest game the music industry has to offer, what does that say to the aspiring choir girl who is the standout in her church? What does it tell the woman who doesn’t sing or dance but who might just want to entertain her husband in a sexy way? Is this where she goes? And if this is the benchmark of sexual prowess in a 20-year-old, what now must the 15-year-old trying to be cool inol be wing to do this week when we have seen Miley do it all?