Monday, 22 September 2014

Lumps and bumps

Lumpy space princess (the most comme des garcon-esque cartoon character if you ask me) inspired outfit, bunched up purple felt, lumpy rolled up t shirt and general awkward proportions. 

LSP in trouble in lumpy space i.e the BEST adventure time episode evarr, Comme Des Garcon S/S 1997

oh and also? also? I've been doing a ton of free writing crap on tumblr and i think i'm just gonna leave some of it here coz all my scraps, burst balloons of creative inspirations live here, also content warning for suicide and depression feelz:

Friday, 12 September 2014

nonsense songs

I'm like the only person in my family to have zero musical talent.

My Grandad's dad used to play the piano in the music halls in South London, y'kno in place of a soundtrack before the talkies came in?

I can't sing in tune and I'm the only person not to have grade eight piano in my house so yeah.

But I make up nonsense songs, and i recorded this one on my phone and i thought it sounded funny, in a weird kind of way, and as i save even my most jumbled incomplete thoughts, all my failures and incomplete creative processes, on this blobby blog i was like meh it might as well stay here with all the other artistic orphans.

Oh and I made a new tag for all those weird videos that didn't fit elsewhere of me dancing to taylor swift/flailing around, and now, singing tunelessly, it's called Audition, cos it's my fave movie and also these are rough and incomplete introductions to nothing! They suck! I suck! Everything sucks! Yay! Also I resent that being a gross girl in horror movies isn't like a legit career option? 

I couldn't figure out how to upload them as mp3s so I had do it as an 8 tracks mix, so i apoligise to each and every 8tracks user who may accidentally stumble upon this! the first three are me, and then i ran out of recordings so the rest is a combination of the muppets/scott walker/anything other strange silly thing i could find on my 8 tracks library!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The beauty of art is that you can use the term very loosely

As evidenced by this post.

But yeah I made some "art" I don't feel like I make art enough  to consider myself an "artist" like when i see the rapid fire of tumblr illustrators compared to me knocking out like three painting a year it's kind of a 'holy shit what am i doing with my life' moment. i make art when i feel like it and some of it got put in collections and shows and stuff so ppl think of me as an artist but idk they give me too much credit, making art, pen to paper style is not in the fabric of my day to day, the only reason writing is is coz its the only way to communicate with other ppl. like most of my writing is merely an extension of my day to day, i do not consider it a separate craft, any more than like writing a fb message is a craft but yeah. 

but i made some picture things today based on that girl, who crawled inside a dead horse and took like photos and ate its heart or something. Wtf? I kno! How can that level of weirdness not get immortalised in art when art is defined in the broadest way possible. Forget criminal sentences, online campaigns, having me draw her really badly on my weird blog is probably punishment enough. 

But seriously, aren't you kind of drawn in by those original photos, in the same way as the 1970s folk horror films like The Wicker Man and Blood on Satan's Claw? Like its fucked up and urggghh gags and why does this exist, but also bizarrely intriguing in a why-are-you-smiling-inside-a-horse, why-does-it-look-like-the-dead-horse-is-giving-birth-to-you i swear there's some drawn out symbolism there, also picasso drew suffering, ill treated horses so often in his work and i love picasso, and why-are-you-looking-into-my-soul, and doesn't this look like a francis bacon painting with all his gross meat portraits and why am I still looking? why-am-i-now-drawing-this? because its imbedded into mind in the things that i cannot unsee catergory? oh okay.

sooo i drew a collage/oil paint/water colour/pencil version:

And a drawing/illustration/sketch thing:

and little pencil drawing:

I think I will probably do some more, but i feel grossed out/nauseous from looking at the photos so am going to wait till the weekend, maybe my stomach will have settled by then!

✿ Happy Bethday ✿

I kind of wore two outfits yesterday

In the sense that I shoved a t-shirt over my dress half way thru the morning, and obvs had to document both outfit incarnations ***layering***

Also random, but after fangirling over horror movies this morning I rediscovered this gem of a birthday card that Emma sent me!? (My birthday was in June so not quite sure why I haven't show you till now but hey!!)

I am kind of burnt out with various things, so am not feeling some kinda --*-*hard hitting-*-*- blog post today, but in all honesty I think part of thinking critically, of unpicking the world, and drawing the invisible threads behind the unspoken ugliness of this place we call home, is knowing when to take a fucking break! And I need a lil time out, breath out, mind blank, so I can later craft work, make writing, and pictures that can cut through the bone, cheese wire style. Ya feel me?

But I am never too burnt out for mood boards, so have a mood board. I really like mood boards. also yay colour coordination!

Make Them Die Slowly (1981), I Know an Old Lady written by Rose Bonne, pictures by Abner Graboff (1961).Prada and Miu Miu’s design director Fabio Zambernardi for Filippo Timi's adaptation of the Don Giovanni. Photography: Tim Walker — with Paola Marcante and Bruno Mello, MILLHOUSE HALLOWEEN COSTUME, author unknown, Pravdoliub Ivanov - Pessimism No More (installation, detail - 2002),Yayoi Kusama, Yellow Trees, MADE IN CHESEA(!!!)

Oh and in hindsight it would have been wayyy cooler to have coordinated my outfit with the mood board but I didn't think of that so yeah!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Tried/Tired: Colour Wheel

content warning: gross/gory medical drawing

sing a rainbow too

** RED **







R: Medusa Marinara, Vik Muniz, Images from Advanced First Aid & Emergency Care  O: OITNB poster by Renis, 'What is an Insect' book cover by Jenifer W. Day, and Dorothea Barlowe Y: insecticide 24, American Apparel Plaid Circle Skirt, mat collishaw G: Sky Ferreira 'Night Time My Time', Gremlins I Can Read Movies book, B: The American National Red Cross, 1973., Jean Louis Scherrer, S/S 1999,I: Lisa Left Eye, Minimalist HP3 poster by VGeorg Baselitz, drawing from here

Grotesque White Girlhood: A Study of Miley Cyrus’ 2013 VMA Performance with Robin Thicke

Content warning: for misogynoir and anti-blackness

A paper I wrote on Miley Cyrus for Oxford last autumn, kinda random no? Also kind of out of date! But you know how much I love conversations on pop culture so I still enjoyed revisiting it! I think one of the reasons white girlhood and its relation to racist stereotypes is an enduring interest of mine.. Oh and dw I don't actually think Miley is 'gross' or 'evil' anything! Not at all! I was just interested in how the media had portrayed her as such, and the historical tropes that lied behind this media portrait. But yes I hope you enjoy it. :)

In America’s history of white supremacy, none of its children have been quite as contrary as ‘the white girl’.[1] Both oppressed (of the white man) and oppressor (of the 'black man', and 'black woman') she tiptoes across the borders of power. She is both gullible and manipulative, utterly good and demonically evil.[2] Perhaps it is because she holds so many paradoxes that she can elicit so many opposing reactions, triggering adoration and repulsion from 'white man' and 'black woman' alike.[3] In 2013, the pop star, Miley Cyrus, serves as both the host (willingly or unwillingly-we cannot be sure) to this trope and the focus of this essay.

When I began writing this, in November 2013, the figure of Miley was ‘in vogue’, so to speak, with both the British tabloids and the feminist blogosphere. To select such a ‘hot topic’ may seem an unwise choice for an academic paper, suggesting that I care more for the fleeting fancies of Guardian think pieces and Fox News’ ‘scandal of the week’ than for the seemingly firmer, more ‘credible’ foundations of historical inquiry. This is a reactionary impulse, that equates what is popular to what is meaningless, naively assuming that the recent history of visual culture is not an extremely powerful vessel for the ruling ideology. To keep Baudrillard and Žižek on one’s bookshelf, whilst turning away from the rich nature of modern day screen culture, is a vivid illustration of the hypocrisy and intellectual posturing that has permeated certain strands of visual cultural analysis.[4] It is undeniable that our information saturated, opinion heavy, online culture, makes it more difficult to form a reasoned perspective towards a case study such as this. But, with a rigorously critical eye and a firm foundation in the complex history of race, gender and pop culture it is far from impossible.

It should be noted, however, that Miley Cyrus has not been selected merely because she is ‘popular’ at this current time, though certainly a zeitgeist like this can provide a fascinating window into collective outlooks and shared interests. No. She is the topic of this essay because her visceral fusion, of the Disney Corporation’s model of white girlhood and the minstrelsy model of bizarre, comic, horrible, 'blackness', serves as a gateway to closely analyse complex visual constructions of race and gender.[5] For this is a visual analysis. This is not about Miley as musician. This is about Miley as two-dimensional body, flickering on YouTube videos, Miley as outfit, Miley as set design, Miley as image.

But, before coming to that, context is necessary. Born 1992, and currently aged twenty-one, Miley came into the public eye as a so called ‘teen idol’, or ‘child star’, at the age of thirteen, for her leading role in the Disney Channel’s television show ‘Hannah Montana’ which ran from 2006 to 2011. Whilst it is appropriate to firmly anchor this analysis in a contextual understanding of her Disney Channel background, the central focus of this essay will be on the work generated following her ‘reinvention’ in 2012, where she cut her long hair short, changed manager, switched record labels, and most notably began to appropriate a stereotypical model of ‘black’ culture.[6] A period that culminated in her “simulating analingus upon the ass of a thickly set African-American backup dancer” against a troop of dancing teddy bears at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) during her performance with the blue-eyed soul singer Robin Thicke.[7] For it is this point in her career that so harshly exposes the power structures at work within the construct of the white girl.

Now, before going any further, let’s try to unravel this vague definition of ‘white girl’.  Firstly what is white? White, first and foremost, is neither fact nor biology.[8] It is as artificial and homogenous as the all-encompassing term ‘black’.[9] America’s definition of whiteness, which we shall be focussing on here, is not a constant, its doors swing open and slam shut for different groups at different times.[10] But that is the group of people known as ‘white’. The ideal of white, much like the ideal of beauty, is accessible to no one.[11] It is an idea, and ideas, in their purest forms, do not make their homes in the body of the living. They live second hand, in the creations of the living, or once living. Television, YouTube videos, Instagram and the printed image, all serve as homes for this belief system. For it is a belief system, a fixed doctrine, that fits within the literary theorist, Terry Eagleton’s, definition of ideology.[12]  And whilst humans can naturally be mouth pieces for an ideology, to keep their ideals pure it is best to keep real life, real people, at a distance. This is why a 21st century pop star, in her instant immediacy and untouchable distance, is the perfect case study for whiteness.

And what of girlhood? Firstly it’s important to realise that the American cultural construction of the ‘girl’ does not refer to a literal child or teenager, though in certain cases, Shirley Temple (who serves as the grandmother of the Miley Cyrus white girl model) is a particularly good example, a pre-pubescent (often female assigned) child can be labelled a ‘girl’. Like whiteness it is an ideal, which can be applied to living people, whilst also living outside and independently from them. A doll is a girl but she is not a person.[13] Yet, as bell hooks explains a “15-year-old Mexican is not a girl she’s a woman.”[14]  Here we are reminded that whiteness and girlhood are not separate. You can be white and not a girl. But you cannot be a girl and not white.

This set up is not a modern one, with Miley’s interaction with black womanhood drawing clear comparisons to the Topsy-Turvy dolls that emerged during slavery. These were double ended American folk toys, created on plantations, pre-civil war, and later mass produced in the early 20th century. The dolls, which presented a white girl on one end, black girl, or black 'Mammy', at the other, establish through difference what the Other is not.[15] This reminds us that to interact with the Other is not always an act of defiance, but, an establishment of order. This serves as a parallel to the “chameleon” character of Hannah Mantana, who in her multiple parts “holds the key to both realities”. The message? Do not turn your back to the white girl; she has eyes on both sides of her head.

But what makes the white girl grotesque? She is grotesque because she is white, and therefore powerful.[16] She is grotesque because she is a girl, and therefore powerless.[17] She is ambiguous, and therefore unpleasant, a living illustration of Julia Kristeva’s argument that abjection lies in uncertainty.[18] 

Author Unknown, Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson and Shirley Temple, behind the scenes of The Littlest Rebel, 1935.
“I hated Shirley. Not because she was cute, but because she danced with Bojangles, who was my friend, my uncle, my Daddy, and who ought to have been soft-shoeing it and chuckling with me, instead he was enjoying, sharing, giving a lovely dance thing with one of those little white girls whose socks never slid down under their heels.”
- T. Morrison, The Bluest Eye (London, 1990) p.13

An example of Miley Cyrus during her Disney Channel era.
Author Unknown, Miley Cyrus poses with Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, USA in 2008.

An example of a mass-produced Topsy Turvy Doll. This particular model was created from 1901-1924 by ‘Horsman's Babyland Rag Doll’.
Image from: ‘Simon and Oakes Auction Catalogue’, August 17th 2013

These contradictions, when located within a white supremacist and patriarchal society, render her repulsive. Consider the words of the poet doris davenport:

 “The myth was that white wimmin were the most envied, most desired (and beautiful), most powerful (controlling white boys) wimmin in existence. The truth is that black people saw white wimmin as some of the least enviable, ugliest, most despised and least respected people, period. From our “close encounters” (i.e., slavery, “domestic” workers, etc.) with them, white people increasingly did seem like beasts or subnormal people.”[19]
doris davenport, The Pathology of Racism: A Conversation with Third World Wimmin  (1981)

davenport powerfully captures the grotesque nature of white girlhood, a beastliness that borders on absolute evil. Miley’s pointed, horn like buns and long, snake-like tongue [6] certainly evoke a Satanic presence, making us question whether the white girl is the cause or symptom of social sickness. Is she Satan or merely a demonic servant? She is neither.

To identify her breed we must consider America’s projections of white-girl-as-image in 20th century horror cinema. ‘The Exorcist’ is a particularly powerful example. Here we find, in, the character of the twelve-year-old girl, Regan, who becomes a victim of Satanic possession, that the physical space of the female body is a gateway for the ideological powers at play.[20] Demonic possession can serve as a colourful comparison for the propagandist potential of pale skinned Disney starlets.[21] A place where, as davenport argues, one’s ugly insides, the mind, the heart, the soul, can so closely match an ugly exterior. Miley’s contorted facial expression, shaven head, back arched and lolling tongue both parallel Regan’s own ghoulishly warped brand of deformed innocence and illustrate the intrinsically visual nature of the white girl model.

6. On the redcarpet of the 2013 VMAs, shortly before her performance, Miley establishes her visual ‘brand’ by showcasing her long tongue and pointed, horn like buns.
Author: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP  (Brooklyn, New York: August 25th 2013)

The phrase ‘deformed innocence’ is a particularly important one. After all, her VMA performance confirmed the supposed ‘stupidity’ of white women, their fakeness, their position as industry pawns. It was a carnival of soiled white girl innocence where the poor little Southern belle (a stand-in Lolita) danced against her Humbert Humbert-esque organ grinder.[22]  “Miley, go back to school!” cried Time Magazine.[23] Subsequent journalism aped this format, with the gossip section of Yahoo! News chiming in with: “Silly Miley clearly forgot to put on her trousers – posing in a pair of tiny white knickers.”[24] Word choices such as “silly”, “knickers” and “tiny” remind us what great insight the seemingly ‘throwaway’ news stories of online celebrity gossip sites hold. In the derisive, patronising tone of this article, an article that would certainly gain little kudos in an academic bibliography, we find a brilliant example of the enduring myth of the blonde, child-like 'bimbo'. A creature so moronic she is incapable of even getting dressed in the morning. When an individual is portrayed as too empty headed to even identify what is underwear and what is outerwear, is it any wonder that the powers that be feel little guilt in shaping her image, her identity for her?[25]

To maintain this power structure of helpless femininity it is necessary to enforce an imagined idea of patriarchal order, which projects Miley not as a conscious performer, but as a passive puppet, an outlook the popular press has embraced as the master narrative of the VMAs. As the music writer Dorian Lynskey explains:

“One flaw in the current debate [surrounding Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke] is an unwillingness to credit female artists with ideas of their own. When Miley Cyrus appeared naked in the Wrecking Ball video, critics assumed director Terry Richardson was calling the shots, yet in the case of Blurred Lines [which was directed by a woman] the blame for the video falls on Thicke.”

Sustaining the image of Miley as a silly, little girl is a central part of this myth. This quote by model and Vogue contributing editor, Alexa Chung, is a particularly strong text to focus on. After Miley’s VMA performance Chung tweets: “Just woke up from a nightmare about beetlejuice and a child in latex underwear grinding on him.”[26] Once again we find that a seemingly ‘throwaway’ online text (after all many academics would not quantify a tweet by a ‘celebrity’ as a suitable academic source) offers a profound insight into the subject of grotesque white girlhood. The contrast between the phrase “child” and “latex” illustrates the contrast between Miley’s performed 'blackness' and Miley’s true 'white' self. A set up Tressie McMillam Cottom sees as:

Playing a type of black female body as a joke to challenge her audience’s perceptions of herself while leaving their perceptions of black women’s bodies firmly intact.  It’s a dance between performing sexual freedom and maintaining a hierarchy of female bodies from which white women benefit materially.”[27]

Here the child is 'white', whilst the flesh coloured latex (with its connotations of strip club erotica) stands in for 'black'. The borrowed aesthetics of ‘blackness’ can hold a white body in place, reminding the spectator, that a white woman, whatever she wears, whatever she does, will remain a child in the eyes of the public.[28] The abject nature of “a child in latex” brings us to Chung likening Miley’s performance to a “nightmare”, reminding us of Miley’s role as the demonic trickster à la possessed Regan.

The fingerprints of America horror continue in Chung likening Robin Thicke (the thirty-six year old blue-eyed soul singer who Miley performed with) to Beetlejuice, the ghoulish “bio-exorcist” from Tim Burton’s 1988 comedy horror of the same name [8, 9]. The Thicke-Beetlejuice comparison is not a unique observation of Chung’s. His cartoon style black and white suit was almost identical to the Tim Burton character. This fact, most likely complemented by his image as a ‘lecherous’ older man-his summer hit ‘Blurred Lines’, that he performed with Miley at the VMAs, had already been branded as a “rape anthem”-resulted in a host of humorous edited images, photoshopping the movie character’s head onto Thicke’s body.[29] Consider this edited image [10] which presents us with Thicke/Beetlejuice, his crotch pressed against the figure of Miley. Her form contorted forwards as she grinds against him. Her arms fixed to

8, 9. The original Beetlejuice visiting a demonic brothel and attempting to forcibly wed a (human) teenage girl.

Images from: Beetlejuice, directed by Tim Burton (1988: Warner Brothers)

10. Author of Left Image: Jemal Countess/FilmMagic (Brooklyn, New York: August 25th 2013)
Author of Right Image (original): See above. 
Author of Right Image (edited): Unknown-creators of memes are rarely credited (image went viral August 26th 2013)

the audience, her legs glued to Thicke. The corpse style make up of this ‘undead’ character, with his ghostly white face and black ringed eyes, seems to emphasises Thicke’s age against Miley’s youth. His wild eyes, rotten teeth and open mouth elevating existing repulsion towards the original coupling and exaggerating the complex power structures of a white girl and white man occupying ‘black’ culture.[30] Miley, is left unedited. It is unlikely that this was out of pity (the internet has not been kind to her) but because her existing image was so strange, so frightening, that no pop culture reference could elevate its freakishness.

Miley’s fusion to the devilish Thicke, against a display of thickly built twerking black women, illustrates how their VMA performance served as both a theatrical retelling, and a unique reincarnation, of the powers that bind white man, white woman, black man and black woman in American history. In this sense their VMA performance exists as a visual retelling of the contentious and questionable Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver’s argument that:
“The myth of the strong black woman is the other side of the myth of the beautiful dumb blonde. The white man turned the white woman into a weak-minded, weak-bodied, delicate freak, a sex pot and placed her on a pedestal; he turned the black woman into a strong self-reliant Amazon and deposited her in his kitchen. The white man turned himself into the Omnipotent Administrator and placed himself in the Front Office. And he turned the black man into the Supermasculine menial and kicked him out into the fields. It reminds me of two sets of handcuffs that have all four of us tied up together.”[31]
Eldridge Cleaver, Allegory of the Black Eunuchs

Cleaver’s words certainly mirror the powers structures at play within the VMA show. One cannot help but draw parallels with Cleaver’s description of the black woman as “strong self-reliant Amazon” when learning that the black woman, who Miley elected to simulate ‘analingus’ on is literally named ‘Amazon Ashley’. Furthermore, the concept of the white girl as “freak” wholly supports my argument thus far of Miley’s role as a creepy, quasi-Satanic, girl-child.

But that is the visual incarnation known as ‘Miley Cyrus’, what of the real Miley, the multi-faceted individual (for surely all individuals are multi-faceted) who we know nothing of. Does the fact that she is (supposedly) good friends with ‘Amazon Ashley’ in ‘real life’ interrupt the neat parallels drawn from the Cleaver race and gender model? And does the fact that she only embraced this model of minstrelsy (for in its comic cartoonish 'blackness', it is minstrelsy: return to images one and two if you require a visual reminder) after she switched labels, thus gaining greater creative control, shut down any archaic fantasy of a big, bad white man acting as puppet master over a theatre of white supremacy.[32]

There is not a straightforward answer to this. However, what is clear is that this information does not, in any way, contradict my previous arguments about grotesque white girlhood. Instead the tensions between Miley as image and Miley as person, the uncertainty of what is real and is what is merely for show, shines light on my earlier work, highlighting nuances to this case study that might have otherwise been missed. For these contradictions are not separate from this model of white girlhood, they are crucial to its very existence. This is the idea of the unreliable, many faced, white girl, gentle and kind one moment, vicious and ugly the next, a child who can be loved and hated by those they oppress in equal measures.[33]

The Exorcist, dir: William Friedkin (Warner Bros, 1973)

Miley plays with the many faces of girlhood, and the so called ‘fakery’ attached to this idea, through posing with ‘Miley’ dolls in various situations.
Still from: Jimmy Kimmel Live! Jackhole Productions (California: 25th June 2013)
Author: FameFlynet

Still from Miley Cyrus’ Music Video ‘We Can’t Stop’ dir: Diane Martel (RCA: 2013)
She explains: "As you can see my necklace says 'doll' -- so I'm a doll. So that's me making out with a doll version of myself. Doll-on-doll-on-doll. Me and my friends always say doll-on-doll-on-doll!"
-Jimmy Kimmel Live! Jackhole Productions (California, 25th June 2013)

Think again of the possessed Regan, her bloodied face rotated 360 degrees, sat in a nightgown, holding a dagger atop the four poster bed of her childhood bedroom [11]. We can see her performed face, her possessed face, but what of her real face? Is it hidden from view? Perhaps it is on the front part of her head or stashed under her bed where the viewer cannot see.  In many ways this lack, this sense of the hidden, unseen face, is as disconcerting as staring Satan in the eye. Maybe, that is what makes an absolute reading of the Miley show so reassuring. The idea that, much like Regan, was propelled backwards by dark forces, crawling down the stairs of her family home like a spider [12], Miley too was possessed somehow by an unseen force (music corporations, 'blackness', mental illness-are just a few of the explanations put forward) morphing her, from Hannah Montana to the strange, wretched creature of the VMAs .
For, much as it is easy to dismiss the ‘real’ Miley for the picture Miley (not realising that it is these contradictions that reveal the whole) it is easy to place Hannah Montana Miley against VMA Miley. And it is easy to ignore the fact that the many faces of Miley are what give the construct of grotesque white girlhood meaning [13, 14.]. For the Hannah-Montana-image-Miley, celebrating white girlhood in the pure white paradise of the Disney Channel, and the VMA-image-Miley, celebrating whiteness by highlighting what she is not (a black woman) are not different, they are near identical.[34] This is not a radical break from girlhood, as so many shocked journalists think, mourning the wholesome girl child she once was, but a clear continuation.[35]

[1] For a cultural history of the white girl in history and popular culture see Hilton Als, White Girls (San Francisco, 2013). The angle Als took, focusing on black queer, male assigned, cultural identity, meant this was not an appropriate source to focus on in this essay. Nonetheless, the work would provide a strong introduction to the rich history of this trope for anyone wishing to study the topic outside of my chosen focus of Miley Cyrus.
[2] This contradictory combination of sweet and sinister is especially clear in 20th century American horror films. The Bad Seed, dir: M. Leroy (Warner Bros, 1956) serves as a particularly strong example. 
[3]T. Morrison, The Bluest Eye (London, 1990) p.13
[4] For conflicting opinion on the value of studying visual culture see: S. Alpers; E. Apter; C. Armstrong; S. Buck-Morss; T. Conley; J. Crary; T. Crow; T. Gunning; M. Ann Holly; M. Jay; T. Dacosta Kaufmann; S. Kolbowski; S. Lavin; S. Melville; H. Molesworth; K. Moxey; D. N. Rodowick; G. Waite; C. Wood, ‘Visual Culture Questionnaire’, October, Vol. 77. (Summer, 1996) p.29, 31, 32, 34, 35, 6
The Onion’s satirical piece on Miley Cyrus and the Syrian Civil War is another example. See: M. Artley, ‘Let Me Explain Why Miley Cyrus’ VMA Performance Was Our Top Story This Morning’, The Onion, August 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at,33632/
[5] To identify how Miley’s performance was a continuation of America’s rich history of minstrelsy see: J. Rosen: ‘The VMAs were dominated by Miley’s Minstrel Show’, Vulture, 26th August 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at

[6]The song Cyrus sang, We Can't Stop, was written by Timothy and Theron Thomas and given to Cyrus when she told them: "I want something that feels black." Instead of giving her something by John Coltrane, the Thomas brothers gave her a song originally written for Rihanna which, to be fair, was almost certainly the image of blackness Cyrus had in mind”
H. Freeman, ‘Miley Cyrus’ twerking routine was cultural appropriation at its worst’, The Guardian, August 27th 2013
[7] J. Rosen: ‘The VMAs were dominated by Miley’s Minstrel Show’, Vulture, 26th August 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at

[8] “Were there white people in antiquity? People with light skin certainly existed well before our own times. But did anyone think they were “white” or that their character related to their color? No for neither the idea of race nor the idea of “white” people had been invented, and people’s skin color did not carry useful meaning.”
N. Irvin Painter, The History of White People (New York, 2010) p.1
[9] A. Piper, ‘Passing for White Passing for Black’, in: Out of Order, Out of Sight, Volume I: Selected Essays in Meta-Art 1968-1992 (Cambridge, MA, 1996) p. 15, 19, 22, 26,
[10] For a 21st century example of this see: T. Barkawi, ‘9/11 stole my whiteness’, Al Jazeera, 15th June 2012, accessed 22nd November 2013 at
[11] “There is no human being so perfectly beautiful that it is not wanting in some respect.”
L. Dolce, quoted in: Mark Roskill, Dolce’s Aretino and Venetian Art Theory of the Cinquecento, 2nd ed (Toronto, 2000) p.130-31
[12] ‘What Is Ideology?’ in T. Eagleton, Ideology: An Introduction (London, 1991) p.1-33
[13] S. R Steinberg, ‘The Bitch Who Has Everything’, in: Shirley R. Steinberg, Joe L. Kincheloe (eds), Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood (New York, 1998)
[14] b. hooks and a. mesa-bains, Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism (Cambridge, MA, 2006) p. 133
[15] J. L. Buckner, ‘The Angel and the Imp: The Duncan Sisters’ Performances of Race and Gender’, Popular Entertainment Studies, Vol. 2, Issue 2, (Newcastle, Australia, 2011)  p.55-6
[16] The journalist Hadley Freeman, speaking on Miley’s supposed ‘power’ writes:
“The effect was not of a homage but of a minstrel show, with a young wealthy woman from the south doing a garish imitation of black music and reducing black dancers to background fodder and black women to exaggerated sex objects.”
From: H. Freeman, ‘Miley Cyrus’ twerking routine was cultural appropriation at its worst’, The Guardian, August 27th 2013
[17] The television presenter Mika Brzezinski speaking on Miley’s supposedly ‘powerlessness’ as a young woman responds:
“I think that [the VMA performance] was really, really disturbing. That young lady, who is 20, is obviously deeply troubled, deeply disturbed, clearly has confidence issues, probably an eating disorder and I don’t think anybody should have put her on stage. That was disgusting and embarrassing … That was not attractive. That was not fun. That was not funny. That was really, really bad for anybody who’s younger and impressionable and she’s really messed up … The whole thing was cringe worthy but I feel bad for her. She is a mess.” — 
From: Morning Joe’s, MSNBC, August 26th 2013
[18] J. Kristeva, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (New York, 1982) p.9
[19] d. davenport, ‘The Pathology of Racism: A Conversation with Third World Wimmin’, Moraga, C. L. Anzaldúa, G. (eds),  This bridge called my back, (New York, 1981) p.86

Note: It might still seem contradictory to include the above quote, as it so explicitly refers to the white female as “wimmin” rather than girls. However, it is important to remember that this essay is not a study of the lives of real “white” women but rather a study of how the collective love and loathing for these individuals culminated in America’s cultural creation of ‘the white girl’. Furthermore, as explained previously, the working model of white womanhood renders so many privileged, upper class, white women as implicitly ‘girls’ whether or not the individual is explicitly named as one.
[20] Barbara Kreed, The Monstrous Feminine (New York: 2012) p.36
[21] J. L. Kincheloe, ‘Are Disney movies good for kids’ In: S. R. Steinberg, J. L. Kincheloe (eds), Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood (New York, 1998) p.56
[22] Pedophilic connotations of the performance were made explicitly clear in American mainstream media’s response to the performance. This tweet by Time journalist James Poniewozik is a particularly strong example:
“Ick, just watched that Miley Cyrus / teddy bear performance and I think I'm now legally required to put myself on some kind of registry”
Cited in: A. Mulholland, ‘Miley Cyrus’ MTV VMA Performance sets viewers abuzz’, CTV News, 26th August 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at
[23]C. Paglia, ‘Miley Go Back to School!’ Time Magazine, August 27th 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at

[24] Chris, ‘Miley Cyrus poses for MORE provocative shots’, Yahoo! Omg! August 30th 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at

[25] D. Lynskey, ‘Blurred Lines: The most controversial song of the decade’, The Guardian, 13th November 2013
[26] A. Chung, Twitter/@alexa_chung, August 26th 2013, accessed August 27th 2013
[27] T. McMillan Cottom, ‘When your (brown) body is a (white) wonderland’, Tressiemc, August 27th 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at
[28] In a live debate the journalist Lisa Belkin emphasized this position of Miley as child noting:“It looks like a little girl saying I big girl now”, A. Berg, ‘Don’t Blame Miley for being Oversexualized’, Huffpost Live, August 26th 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at
[29] A contextual, impartial, overview of the ‘Blurred Lines’ controversy can be found here: D. Lynskey, ‘Blurred Lines: The most controversial song of the decade’, The Guardian, 13th November 2013
[30] Whilst Miley’s relationship with black culture has been cited already, information surrounding the complexities of the ‘blue-eyed soul singer’ genre that Robin Thicke occupies can be found here:
Z. Hughes, ‘Are Whites Stealing Rhythm and Blues: Conflicting Opinions about the ‘blue-eyed’ influence in rhythm and blues’, Ebony, Nov 1999, Vol. 55 Issue 1, p72
[31] E. Cleaver, Soul on Ice (New York, 1968) p.162

[32] J. Rosen: ‘The VMAs were dominated by Miley’s Minstrel Show’, Vulture, 26th August 2013, accessed 22nd November 2013 at
[33] T. Morrison, ‘What the Black Woman Thinks of Women’s Lib’, Carolyn. C. Denard (ed), from, What Moves at the Margin; Selected Non-Fiction (Mississippi, 2008) P.27
[34] For more information on the relationship between Disney and American whiteness see:
J. L. Kincheloe, ‘Are Disney movies good for your kids?’ In: S. R. Steinberg, J. L. Kincheloe (eds), Kinderculture: The Corporate Construction of Childhood (New York, 1998) p.56
[35] There are countless articles illustrating this but this one is particularly relevant as it interprets Miley as a ‘fallen Disney princess’:

Editorial team, ‘Miley Cyrus: the rise and fall of a Disney princess’,, August 29th 2013 accessed 22nd November 2013 at