Well, I'm not sure how I feel about this. As far as the broad range of actions that Miley Cyrus decides to undertake goes, this is on the tame side for a girl who Instagrammed a picture of herself squatting in the woods and has mastered the art of the bathtub selfie. After her 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance that introduced the world to a brand new Cyrus, she became the mainstream face of twerking whether that association was fully justified or not. Now she's at it again because, apparently, twerking is dead. According to MTV, Cyrus is trying to make the Nae Nae popular and her success rate isn't very high so far.
The Nae Nae is a dance move that was referenced by Atlanta's We Are Toonz in the music video for "Drop That NaeNae". Apparently, Cyrus witnessed her dancers, the LA Bakers, doing it and she begged them to teach it to her. "I keep trying to start it at all my shows and no one is really doing it back at me," she said, although she's not about to give up on that quest if the instructional guide she gave to Australian talk show Sunrise is any indication.
It's a sad but true fact that a lot of people still don't know that Cyrus did not invent twerking. She was certainly not the last artist to do it, but she definitely wasn't the first. In fact, Cyrus' common association with twerking was controversial because of the inherent racism and cultural appropriation of a wealthy white blond embracing an element of black culture in order to further her own mainstream image. It proved to be very, very effective and Cyrus went on to become the first thing that people thought of whenever they thought of twerking, even among those who acknowledged that the dance originated in the black community.
Now Cyrus has tired of twerking and has set her sights on another dance that originated in the African-American culture and that already leaves a bad taste in my mouth. This shouldn't come as a surprise from the same pop singer who said that she wanted a song that "sounds black" for her first Bangerz single, but it's really disappointing. It's not as if I'm saying that no one of any other culture is allowed to do dances that originated in the any other culture ever, but this is an instance in which Cyrus needs to start checking her privilege. Just as she became the face of twerking, she runs the risk of becoming the face of the Nae Nae as well and it's not her dance to appropriate.
At the very least, I would like to see Cyrus use this potential craze as an opportunity to give press and attention to the group it originated from. Perhaps she could only do the dance while playing their song, so they share the association. Maybe she could even start adding a plug into every interview she does that references the Nae Nae. Essentially, if Cyrus is really trying to pioneer a new dance craze that was taught to her by her dancers based on a music video that came out months ago, but wants to do it without being accused of racism and cultural appropriation, then she needs to give credit where credit is due. We saw her twerk enough times to know that taking the time out to talk about her influences has never been high on her list.
There's a difference between celebrating or honoring a culture and stealing aspects of it to further your own career and Cyrus has never been very good at straddling that line in a tactful way. She hasn't quite gone to Katy Perry levels just yet, or done anything quite as offensive as Avril Lavigne's "Hello Kitty" music video, but she runs the risk of going there if she continues to "launch" new dances that she almost exclusively takes from the black community when she tires of the last dance that she also took from that culture. To be honest, I'm no more interested in watching Cyrus do the Nae Nae than I was in watching Cyrus twerk and it has nothing to do with how good she is at the dance itself.
Image: Getty Images