by Zohair Hussain
As readers' interests shift, integrity seems to lose its main market in reporting
week’s “scandal” at the MTV Video Music Awards, the pacing of news and
reporting made itself known as a speed force to be reckoned with. In the minute-by-minute duration and aftermath of the performance of one, Miley Cyrus, and
her “partner in crime”, Robin Thicke, new age media came together to do what it
does best: twitter our feed with dribble and spit-up commentary.
It can’t be
denied that news reporting, in many ways, is stepping further away from hard
facts and closer to tabloid gossip. In a day and age where Twitter is the new paperboy,
it can’t be denied that the facts are coming faster. And while this could be an opportunity for better news, more quickly, more often than not we’re
trading chances for quick links to real stories with 140 character quips on
MC-Hammer-like “did you see her butt”s (#chauvanistsforCyrus).
disappointment comes, though, when we look to major media outlets (Still
trusted by some. Take off the aluminum hat, Johnny.) the next day for
hard-hitting news, only to see that they’ve decided to throw their own hats in
the ring. With prize-winning headlines such as CNN’s “Miley Cyrus twerks,
stuns VMAs crowd,” the morning news was just as obsessed as the evening
reporter, a writer, an observer, this obsessive, sprawling focus is what scares
me most. It isn’t the performance itself, full of dancers dressed as teddy bears or Cyrus’ gyrating hips on Thicke’s overly hyped crotch (See “Blurred
Lines” for more details). It isn’t so much the event that took place, as it was
the reactive reports that left an extra, bitter after taste to my morning
reporting, perceived to have more lenient, pop-culture laced subject
matter, used to hold itself to similar standards of respectful re-tellings of
facts rather than fiction. Though there had once been a clear distinction
between opinion pieces and news articles, even in the realm of aesthetic focus,
the lines are suddenly more blurred than ever. And where does that leave us,
the “responsible” voices?
in many ways, defined by the voices that carry out its most essential
conversations. If we are of the few so lucky as to have a readership, our words
carry the weight of decades of said cultural insight and historical backing.
What do we have to say for ourselves when these words, our influence, sacrifice
authenticity for celebrity? Integrity for popularity? What are we really
accomplishing when we re-draw the line between honest reporting and
scandalized, gossip mongering, and honest words inch closer to the latter? What
would our (fore)mothers say?
to say that there aren’t some voices, some news outlets out there, who aren’t
doing it right. While most couldn’t look away from Cyrus’ extended tongue
(search “Venom” and “Marvel Comics” for more details), The Guardian, for
example, wouldn’t look past the more subtly digressive implications of the
performance. Did you miss the moment where the young, stage-dominant, Caucasian
Miley Cyrus groped her not so white back up dancers? (The
Some took an even more seasoned route, using
temperance techniques to stop the sensational train in its tracks. In Rolling Stone's
initially deceptive write up, “It's Miley, Bitch: The Tongue
That Licked the World”, Rob Sheffield gave a more balanced account of the 2013
Video Music Awards, mentioning Cyrus almost in passing, and spending his time
taking equal shots at all the stars involved in what he said was MTV’s attempt
to make “sure this year’s VMA party was a real show. With a little help from
I ask again: What are we
creating when we allow objectivity to bend to the will of popular demand,
asking for glitter and jazz and sensationalized headlines? Nothing. We are
creating a secular sinkhole of informational access.
We lead our readers right back where they started.
says to me that there must be a change made. The truth is, we CAN stop. If we
Why can’t we create insight, rather than propagate fan
mongering, rather than cling to one star's fateful decision to wear her teddy
bear out that night? Let the reporters report and the readers decide. It’s now
or never. Robin Thicke will age (even more so, it seems) Miley Cyrus will
find Disney again (and a few more times after that), “Blurred Lines” will find
its way off the Billboard charts (catchy can only be caught for so long), but
the honest word —that will last for…at least a few more years.
by Jac Kern
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards melted the face off the Internet, so if
you’re still trying to form an opinion and sift through gif reactions, or you’re
one of those people pretending you don’t know what the VMAs are — the Moonman
has been around since 1983 and the VMAs have been pooping out
pseudo-controversy for just as long. You know what they are. Sit back down — don’t worry, momma’s here.
If you really don’t watch the VMAs, it’s important to understand that the V and A do not
matter — MTV rarely plays music videos, as we all know, and no one ever
remembers who actually wins the Mooman by the end of the night. The respected
academy of critics are teens who vote for whichever marginally talented star tweets
the most. You watch for the pop culture experience — whether it’s Fiona Apple’s
“bullshit” acceptance speech, the Britney-Madonna kiss or Beyonce’s baby bump
announcement, crazy shit goes down at the VMAs. And this year was no different.
The big draw of the night was Lady Gaga’s big comeback. It’s been two
years since a big performance and release, and Mama Monster also is back from a
hip injury that kept her out of the public eye for a bit. Gaga opened the show
with her new single, “Applause,” which was welcomed by audience boos (those
turned out to be staged. Gaga — go figure.). The performance looked like some
kind of jazzy, art school, off-broadway number, complete with dudes in leotards and onstage
weave and costume changes, ending in LG in a big ass brown curly wig, a mermaid
shell bra and thong. Her body was siiiiick
(eat it, haters) and it was nice to see her look/act like a human — this is not the
meat dress-wearing, alien goth princess, Jo Calderone Gaga. This is ARTPOP
Artists.MTV, Music, Lady
She seemed a little more down-to-earth, if that’s possible? Like she was
having fun, and not taking it too seriously. Which is good, because her new
song is in a fucking Kia commercial.
Next up is the kind of moment that makes careers
and ends presidencies. Just kidding. It’s just Miley! So I (like every human
with access to the Internet) detailed my roller coaster of emotions when I first
watched Miley Cyrus’ video “We Can’t Stop.” And I must say, I have no problem
with MiCy growing up and changing directions. Alternatively, I have no problem with her being a completely fake, manufactured product (cut to Lady Gaga —Government Name: Stefani Germanotta — looking like the normal girl she
actually was less than a decade ago, on an episode of Boiling
Points. Most pop stars were once Hannah Montanas before their producers gave them "molly"
and a rejected Rihanna beat, OK?). I have no qualms with her getting an fierce
haircut and wearing denim diaper shorts and
juxtaposing her former good girl image with her current hot lady looks. But there's a difference between shifting
from Country to Pop or Disney kid to edgy starlet and purposefully quashing
your saccharine image by motorboating a woman's thonged butt on TV just for the
shock factor. I see you Miley, and I will not respond to you.
One note I must make about the performance is Miley did share the
spotlight with the black chicks from her "We Can't Stop" video. (Side note: those giant bear
backpack apparatuses they’re wearing look really heavy!) Many critics of the
vid questioned why these “friends” only appeared in one scene of the video,
when she appears to be so immersed in black culture throughout (See: Conversation
on cultural appropriation
I’m not prepared to start here). Once Miley was done assaulting her backup
dancers, rubbing her fur-covered crotch and definitely not lip synching (for
better or worse), the two songs that had everyone clutching their pearls this
year came to an uncomfortable head as Robin Thicke made his way onstage.
Thicke’s video for “Blurred Lines” sparked up just as much controversy
as Miley’s in recent months. From scantily-clad models (plus a naked one in the
uncensored version) to lyrics like “I know you want it” — plus dumb hastags
all over the place — there were bound to be some haters. But, doesn’t that
description sound comparable if not tamer than nearly any popular music video
circulating right now? Now, I can understand the concern about the subject of
“blurred lines” when there is so much right-wing bullshit about rape culture
going on right now. But the video came out in March, and it wasn’t until
recently, once a few people started writing about their disapproval, that other
folks started recycling these opinions and making parody videos that completely
miss the point. Look, I’ve got a soft spot for Robin Thicke. He started off more
than a decade ago as an R&B singer — he’s got a smooth-as-a-baby’s-butt
voice so of course his songs are
going to be sexual and of course some of his videos are going to feature sexy
girls. He’s married to actress Paula Patton, whom he’s been with since he was
16. They have an adorable son named Julian Fuego. If anything, Miley would corrupt him!
So Miley rips off her PedoBear onesie to reveal the two-piece from the
“Blurred Lines” video and everyone realizes yes, she’s going there. The world
looked on in sheer terror as she twerked every which way upon Thicke, stroking
him and herself with a We’re No. 1 finger you see at hockey games. Miley’s butt
looked really scary and Robin looked like Beetlejuice.
Let’s all cleanse ourselves by looking back on Thicke’s earlier, hairier years.
One actual quality performance of the night came from Justin Timberlake.
Sure, he’s ubiquitous, but damn, the dude is talented. JT sang and danced his
way across every stage in the Barclays Center, never missing a beat or breath, touching on
hits from all throughout his career. Naturally, everyone was waiting for the
anticipated *NSYNC reunion, and every time a cluster of male back-up dancers
rushed onstage, I thought that was the moment. Finally, four shadowy figures
emerged from an illuminated stage, and Justin joined them in the center.
I hate to be a spoilsport, but, *NSYNC, you’re tearin’ up my heart. Nearly any
millennial Pop lover was either a Backstreet Boy or *NSYNC fan, and I was
more of an *NSYNC girl. Nevertheless, when I recently had the opportunity to
attend the BSB reunion concert of PNC Pavilion, you better believe I screamed
my lungs out with the rest of the crowds of pathetic women. I had to hand it to
the ‘Boys — they looked more attractive as 40-year-olds than they did 20 years
ago! They were in shape, still had their chops and were really good sports
about it. The concert really was a fun time. So when I saw an overweight,
wobbling Chris Kirkpatrick struggling to pull his jacket over his tummy, I
could not focus on anything else. A single tear ran down my cheek. And why the
hell, of all songs to play during this rare moment, would they sing
“Girlfriend?!” I still love you, *NSYNC, but reunion wasted, in my opinion.
VMA, Artists.MTV, Music, Justin
More stuff: This picture is NOT the Smith family reacting to that Miley mess I
just recounted. This is a still taken during Gaga’s performance and it’s not
even an accurate reaction, so stop sharing it, ya losers.
Drake, Bruno Mars, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Kanye also performed,
and no one is going to say anything about that. Drake reminds me of a dinosaur
and his song was really boring. Kanye performed in a shadow in front of a
screen cuz he’s a dad now and he can’t be bothered with camera close-ups, guys.
The camera cut away to reaction shots from Taylor Swift so often, she should be credited as a co-host. Good god.
Katy Perry’s new song "Roar" ended the night with a boxing-themed performance
by the Brooklyn Bridge, but it seems like everyone was too busy freaking out about
Miley to notice. It was pretty fun, but apparently it sounds a lot like Sara
VMA, Artists.MTV, Music, Katy Perry
news, even D-list celebs, Like Dharma & Greg’s Thomas Gibson can get
Breaking Bad’s Anna Gun (Skyler White) wrote a New York Times op-ed about how everybody
HATES her — or at least the character she plays — any how this widespread
abomination doesn’t seem to carry over to male characters on television.
"Beauty and the Beat?"
In his latest video, my newest hero Todrick Hall takes it to the next level and
tells the story of Cinderella using the music of Beyoncé. Rupaul’s Drag Race star Shangela plays the fairy god mother.
0 Comments · Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Stephen Colbert makes the best of Daft Punk cancelling its appearance on his show (though Pitchfork only gives it a 2.4); Katy Perry's gold promotional semi-truck has somehow only been involved in one accident so far; and Chris Brown is still a douchebag.