Our Reductionist Dualism

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

August 28, 2013


Categories: Blogging Before SEO

I’ve done my research, and the only question I have is, “What’s all the fuss about?”

My research consisted of three videos and some headlines, quite extensive in this day and age, yet the question remains the same, “What is all the fuss about?”

It came to my attention the next day, when people kept making comments about how sexy she was and how awful it was. Then I saw a headline that demeaned the nature of those criticisms because it failed to protect the black dancers behind her. And, then I see something else that again chastises her for failing to have any self-respect. And, then I saw someone posted a picture of her in comparison to a giraffe. I didn’t even know it was her until later, thinking it was some other young, bubbly, white, female sex kitten of the day.

Yes, I’m talking about Miley Cyrus’ performance at the MTV Video Music Awards.

The Teddy Bears

We don’t have television. So, I became vaguely aware they took place after a few friends had updated commentary whilst it was filming. I didn’t realize what it was until a few days later. I confess, I became curious, so I did my next research: I watched the videos.

Well, the first attempt at watching the VMA performance failed, as MTV’s site didn’t buffer well with my connection and computer. So, thank YouTube for its efforts in allowing me to complete my research tonight on my iPhone.

First, I watched the VMA video. I didn’t understand it. This was my second introduction to the song “Blurred Lines”, the first of which I only listened to for a few moments and decided it wasn’t for me. I didn’t understand why they big bear was on the stage wearing glasses like Geordi. I didn’t understand why it opened up and a girl (later realizing that was Miley Cyrus) was wearing a strange teddy bear uniform sticking her tongue out like a snake. I kind of understood the big bears dancing on stage (I have seen some of the Harlem Shake videos), it seemed part of this genre we are in, defining. It seemed like the performance had three parts: teddy bear, nude bathing suit, finishing with Robin Thicke & Co.

Okay, so it was a terrible performance in my estimation. The choreography was confusing, and it was knit together by a strange theme and the colors black and white. Fine, I don’t understand pop culture much these days. (Something happens when you become a parent and your days are consumed with Clifford, Baby Einstein, and Legos.)

Snip from Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines

I then continued with my research with watching the Blurred Lines video(s). There were two: one with the most hits on YouTube and an “X” (un) rated video. I understood pretty quickly where they chose Miley’s costume – simply from the nude, bikini (rated or nude on top, x-rated) clad woman carrying the fan finger. In this costume, the model/actress only had a small part in both videos. It seems MTV simply made Miley’s entire act from this 5 second clip.

Not having heard the song in its entirety before, nor having watched the video – I quickly understood the irony behind “Blurred Lines”. Thicke continues to repeat that he wants a good girl while these beautiful sex kittens parade scantily clad or nude across the screen. Their bodies perfectly emulating today’s rigid standard of beauty.

It became clear that Thicke is making sexy the “Madonna/Whore” irony that boys so tediously deal with.

And, yet, it’s Miley Cyrus who, perhaps just went along with a director’s wish, is chastised for lack of self-respect and being too sexy on-screen.

Oh, yes, the irony is abound.

So, why, my husband inquires, am I spending so much time on this silliness? It’s just gossip. I’m spending time on it because, like Trayvon Martin, we don’t have our eye on the ball. We are vilifying Miley for being sexy without vilifying Thicke for promoting the Madonna/Whore complex. We vilify George Zimmerman without recognizing our own racism. We live in this dualistic, reductionist phase in our society, and I think it’s worth continued acknowledgement to help us move out of this paradigm shift.


  1. Stacy

    You have a good point. I too looked up the video of the vma pperformance on youtube. The thought never crossed my mind to watch the blurred lines video. I was disgusted by the vma performance, but tthat’s just my opinion. Good or bad behavior is rewarded by attention, so why are people making such a big deal about this?

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