Why Is Everyone Talking About Miley Cyrus?

Miley Cyrus "twerking" at the 2013 MTV VMAs.

Miley Cyrus “twerking” at the 2013 MTV VMAs.

At the recent 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, pop icon Miley Cyrus gave a raunchy performance that sparked a wave of criticism, debate and jokes on late-night American TV.  One journalist from The Guardian called her “twerking” routine “cultural appropriation at its worst” (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/27/miley-cyrus-twerking-cultural-appropriation) and accused her of reducing black culture to a series of overworked, degrading stereotypes.  Why the fascination with this once-good-girl turned bad?  And why exactly does her performance have all of America more interested in her than in current world events? Is it because of her sudden transformation from Disney’s sweet “Hannah Montana” character to popular sex symbol?  Or because she is a privileged white girl profiting from black culture?  Is she perpetuating negative stereotypes about race, class, and gender?  What does this pop culture event tell us about American culture, its values, and belief systems?

Students:  What kinds of pop culture events are prominent in your culture at the moment?  (It could be a particular artist, song, popular book, magazine, idea, news event, or any other pop culture event).  And why is it an object of fascination?  Explain why your example is worthy of academic study, and perhaps what kinds of values and beliefs your example calls into question.  Please provide an image or link of your example.

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