A Theory of Twerk

When it comes to race relations in America, the lines are increasingly blurred. 

It’s been nearly a week and people are still talking about Miley Cyrus. Her performance last Sunday at the 2013 VMAs raised as many questions as it did eyebrows: Are the VMAs racist? What does the proliferation of ratchetness say about our society? Is Miley the Madonna of our generation? Wait, how old did you say 2Chainz was? Remember, this is an event where Grimes and Kathleen Hannah talk feminism during the preshow while Miley fingerblasts herself with a foam hand in the next timeslot. (Meanwhile…somewhere in Calabasas, Kris Jenner is kicking herself for not having thought of it first.) It’s also an event on MTV, which has won every award for most irrelevant network for like a decade straight. If you’re searching for substance or meaning from this donkey show, joke’s on you.

The N-word Apologia

Lena Dunham's racial backpedaling proves you can never be famous enough.

The Daily Mail this week takes a stab at making sense of the whole Lisa Lampanelli/Lena Dunham n-word scandal by reprinting a Twitter exchange between Dunham and XOJane blogger Shayla Pierce, who wrote an article about why white people should never, ever use the n-word, even for comic relief. In the fashion of someone of our generation, Pierce doesn’t hesitate to make the controversy about herself, once a kid coming face to face with racism for the first time. I agree with Pierce, it’s beyond horrifying to know that someone somewhere has it out for you because of your skin color. But that doesn’t mean I’ll ever buy into these woe-is-me tales of mild-to-moderate childhood bullying, and not because I don’t sympathize, but because putting them out there in that glib, confessional tone really tests my sympathy. To internalize something as arbitrary and irrational as hate is to miss the point that the people dishing it are pathetic, impotent losers who lash out at the rest of the world to cover for their own lack of agency. They problem is them, not you, which is admittedly hard to explain to a nine-year-old, but isn’t the whole process of growing up one long acclimation to the fact that the world doesn’t begin and end with yourself? Pierce, I would wager, has done more with life than her attacker ever did, and yet she persists with this insincere and unrigorous critique. So I would ask her this: what in the hell does any of this have to do with Lampanelli?