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Tuesday News: In defense of Miley Cyrus, Tom & Jerry in...

“You can’t censor these things and put them away and pretend they never happened,” said Raul Aguirre, a former Disney animator who now runs the podcast “Man Vs. Art.” “Those cartoons represent a stage our culture was in at the time. As a cartoonist, our work reflects what’s going on in the world.”

I was listening to ESPN radio and they talked about Miley.  But Miley’s suggestive dancing was part of a rehearsed act so Miley knew about it. So did Robin Thicke. So did the whole of MTV and the VMA peeps.  So why is Miley being reviled?  How was Robin Thicke, as HuffPo suggested, sexually violated? Why did other news shows and morning talk shows suggest that Mrs. Thicke should have words with Miley? Shouldn’t she be having words with Robin, her husband?

Jenny Trout wrote about this and called it media slut shaming and I have to agree. Miley was part of a rehearsed act. If her bit was terrible the blame falls on all them, not just her.  Sweaters for Days.

“I’ll lay out rose petals across the bed, and they won’t get in our butts, though it seems some of them logically would. I’ll rub an ice cube all over you, and you won’t burst out giggling, causing me to grow self-conscious and lose my erection. I’ll drip wax on you, which will be erotic and not at all like the other times you’ve burnt yourself on something hot, which have not been erotic at all. We’ll eat dessert off of each other’s nude bodies like that’s not the grossest thing two people could do to their sheets and skin. “Can’t we just have those strawberries later? I’m going to get all sticky,” is something you won’t say, in this paradise of physical pleasure.” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Nonna
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 04:38:35

    Yep, #solidarityisforwhitewomen only. The primary and perhaps most important discourse following Miley and Robin’s performance at the VMA’s isn’t about the body-policing (even though that happens) but about Miley’s cultural appropriation and how racist it is.

  2. Kaetrin
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 05:57:00

    That “I want to make love to you like in the movies” link is full of LOLs and gigglesnorts. Thx for the link.

  3. Junne
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 06:19:44


    What exactly did you find racist in her performance? To me, the whole thing was tacky and her voice was awful, but that’s about it.

  4. Kierney Scott
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 06:34:34

    Yes about Robin Thicke’s rhyming abilities!!! Love listening to that song at the gym but I always think to myself, “nothing dirty rhymes with hug me.” And certainly nothing I want done to me.

  5. Emma
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 06:48:26

    I think the charge of racism comes from Miley’s performance of twerking, a style of dance associated with women of color and sex workers, whereas Miley’s life has been defined by privilege. Jezebel ran a post about it when the “We Can’t Stop” video (which is almost identical to the VMA performance) dropped earlier in the summer.

    I don’t get why everyone is going after Miley and not Miley+Thicke and I also don’t get why the controversy didn’t occur earlier. It seems more like, “This young woman is sexualizing herself; we want to do it!” (Though I do think the issues of cultural appropriation are significant.)

  6. Lee
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 06:57:25

    Interesting…I watched Miley’s performance and thought this is what MTV has helped a generation of men and women see as sexy. The same media that blasts her is the same media that helped create her.

    With regards to the question of race, there was a picture Miley tweeted out a while ago that made me feel uncomfortable and raised my hackles. That coupled, with this performance, does bring up issues of race and the objectification of African-American women as props in her new image. She’s not the only one but she doesn’t get a pass either.

  7. Tina
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 07:34:55

    Well, Hello 2004 Superbowl halftime show. Remember Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake and the infamous wardrobe malfunction? When he pulled her top off but she was the one who was reviled, blacklisted, banned, blamed for the entire incident and barred from attending the Grammys that year. Meanwhile he got to stroll through unscathed even being asked to perform at the same Grammy awards?

    Miley is getting off rather mildly in comparison if you ask me. Unlike Janet who was a victim of circumstance, Miley is very deliberate about what she is doing. She has been acting out for months trying to show off her hip hop bona-fides by tweeting pictures of herself with rappers and trying to claim some otherness that isn’t hers to claim.

    The MTV performance is just the most pubic and deliberate piece of this. Of course her actions were going to be more scrutinized than his. He’s fully dressed and singing. She’s a former Disney princess who is half-dressed on stage gryrating with a foam finger. On some level she is very aware of the shock she’s producing.

    Yes it is slut shaming. But I don’t think the answer is to spread the shame to the male counterpart and wonder why he isn’t being slut shamed too. But rather for people to just say “It is a stage performance get over it!’

  8. Cindy
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 07:36:11

    Admittedly I had not watched the VMA show and only the clip of Miley and Thicke, who I’d never heard or seen before. I was so stunned by the tackiness and trashiness of her song (which in the clip appeared to be first) that I did not really notice him at all. Having rewatched it plus their individual videos, they are both trash.

    My problem with Miley wasn’t so much that she was trying to be sexy but that it wasn’t sexy at all, but more like really bad porn. And that sticking her tongue out all of the time makes her seem like a 12 year old with a mental problem, which makes it all the worse. Sadly, I think the girl she needs help that she won’t receive since her mother was in the audience applauding her atrocious act. It didn’t help that she has no talent either.

    No, I want no part of anything she or Thicke does. Alan Thicke and his wife must be so ashamed of Robin. I know his mother didn’t like the act.

  9. mari
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 07:57:18

    INMHO, the discomfort w/the performance comes from Ms Cyrus’ s proactive and thorough discarding of her wholesome (albeit manufactured) image for an image that is well, less manufactured of course. My sadness about her performance is that once the fake wholesomness and innocence in lost, it can’t ever come back. Now she will be like every other manufactured, sexualized, female performer, the only difference being in the level of manufactured sluttiness. As far as slut shaming goes… can always choose to not be a slut…but in her case (funnily enough not all cases) she may be well compensated for whatever “shame” (I meant publicity) she experiences. I do find it interesting that she made a bundle off the wholesomeness, and she is discarding it for this…

  10. Jane
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 07:58:24

    Yes it is slut shaming. But I don’t think the answer is to spread the shame to the male counterpart and wonder why he isn’t being slut shamed too. But rather for people to just say “It is a stage performance get over it!’

    Tina, you are absolutely right.

    As for the appropriation issue, I wasn’t aware of the background to Miley’s performance. Thanks for the Jezebel link, Emma. Before I was scratching my head thinking no one can twerk?

  11. Tina
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 08:17:17

    Re: Making love like in the movies….

    I was just watching something — I don’t remember what it was — but the two characters were kissing passionately while opening the front door of the apartment while frantically undressing each other while bumping into furniture while still frantically undressing each other and leaving clothes strewn about in breadcrumb fashion to the bedroom while knocking lamps & pictures off tables till they crash in pieces (not caring). And in the aftermath the two finish together only to fall in tandem onto their backs (fully covered with the sheet) while breathing heavily/laughing happily.

    I wondered idly at the time, why does movie sex always look like that?

  12. Juliana Stone
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 08:27:31

    My main complaint about the MTV music awards was, um, it would have been great to actually have a performance where there was maybe some guitar? Maybe a band? Sigh….

    As for the Miley & Robin controversy, I found the segment grasping at straws, it was a hot mess that touched every single performer. I find it sad that these ‘performances’ have displaced a real act. Think Adele or Kelly Clarkson. But guys, as much as Miley and that sad excuse of a male singer, Thicke, were in there, in that moment, it was MTV and the producers who are just as much at fault. Don’t forget these are the guys who had Madonna writhing on the floor in a wedding dress (which seems so incredibly tame now) and Madonna & Brit kissing etc. They loving all the controversy, controversy I’m sure they engineered.

  13. Amanda
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 08:34:31

    In regards to The Tom & Jerry I remember loving a certain Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney movie until near the end of the movie. Where they had this horrible minstrel black face number. It ripped me out of the movie and I never watched it again. At the time I remember wishing they had took that scene out of the movie. But I think Raul Aguirre has a point historically this type of racism did happen and there needs to be a record of it. We shouldn’t just wish it away because we realize the awfulness of it now. Maybe in the case of Tom and Jerry there should be both an edited and unedited version available.

  14. TiceB
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 08:49:49

    Maybe the media blew about Miley because she was the one stroking herself with the foam finger. She was the one grinding and gyrating and desperately seeking the attention that she got. That others were aware of what was planned is scarcely the point. Unless they drugged her, or held a gun to her head, or somehow forced her to do it, the focus shouldn’t be on anyone but her. She’s a grown woman who chose to perform that way. To suggest that others should share the blame because they knew what she was going to do is to imply that she’s not capable of making her own decisions. To call it slut shaming is to suggest that she’s a victim rather than a woman who knowingly chose to portray herself that way. The criticism–and subsequent publicity–were clearly the object of the exercise.

  15. Jane
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 08:53:08


    To suggest that others should share the blame because they knew what she was going to do is to imply that she’s not capable of making her own decisions. To call it slut shaming is to suggest that she’s a victim rather than a woman who knowingly chose to portray herself that way.

    I disagree with this strongly. How is she any more complicit than the other participants in the trainwreck that was the performance? I.e., why should Robin Thicke’s wife be mad at her? Why is Miley the downfall of morality when they all participated, when it was choreographed and/or approved by MTV? The fact that Miley and only Miley is the subject of scrutiny is what makes this misogynistic not that Miley engaged in butt grinding and foam fingering.

  16. Junne
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:24:12


    Well, at least Robin Thicke didn’t strip to his underwear. She’s the one who did it while rubbing herself against him. I’m pretty sure MTV didn’t force her to do it. She seemed comfortable enough. Also, she’s not a teenager anymore, so it’s not child exploitation either.

    But I agree with you on the whole “Paula should be mad at her”. It’s ridiculous because while pretty risqué, it’s obvious that it’s only for show. Actors do worse than that in movies all the time and nobody bats an eyelash.

  17. Tina
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:25:03

    @Juliana Stone:

    I am curious why you call Robin Thicke “a sad excuse of a male singer”? What characterizes him as this? He seems a fairly decent guy. He’s been with his wife since they were both 16 years old. They’re married with a kid. No reports of infidelity or abuse. He’s been an R&B crooner since 2003 releasing fairly standard R&B love songs for years now. Blurred Lines is a catchy song about a guy basically telling a ‘good girl’ she really wants a ‘bad boy’ and trying to lure her away from her boring boyfriend. Nothing too egregious and certainly nothing worse than is in the pages of tons of romance novels we love to read every day.

    I don’t think the answer to not bashing Miley is to turn around and bash him instead. It was a performance. MTV is a visual medium. That requires a certain amount of spectacle. And just because a singer dresses up their song in a high spectacle doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less talented than those who don’t.

  18. Jane
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:25:49

    @Tina: There are actually a ton of rumors of infidelity about Thicke.

  19. Christine
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:27:07

    @Juliana Stone: ” it was MTV and the producers who are just as much at fault. Don’t forget these are the guys who had Madonna writhing on the floor in a wedding dress (which seems so incredibly tame now) and Madonna & Brit kissing etc. They loving all the controversy, controversy I’m sure they engineered. ”
    Exactly what I was going to say. This is verbatim from the Madonna/MTV controversy rule book or “How to get the Media and everyone else to talk about how scandalous you are and build a career on it.” Miley did that performance specifically so people would be “shocked” and talk about it and just like lemmings the press and everyone else falls into line. Madonna based a whole career on it, upping the level of nudity for shock value each time. (Remember her “Sex” book, the “Justify My Love Video” or her (supposed) temporary lesbian relationship with Sarah Bernhard?) Sadly this is how so many women’s careers get made or take off in the entertainment industry. Elisabeth Hurley made a name and a career for herself by showing up on Hugh Grant’s arm in a Versace dress with most of her top exposed. When Jennifer Lopez copied the idea years later for the Grammies, her career exploded.

  20. cleo
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:29:22

    I haven’t seen the VMA performance, but I just have to chime in about Robin Thicke. I’d never heard of him before he was on the Colbert Report, (so I live under a rock, but it’s a nice rock) – during that performance, I kept thinking, wait – what is he singing? is this offensive? I can’t tell?! I finally looked up the lyrics and I still don’t know wth that song is about or how offended I should be.

    The I Want to Make Love to You Like in the Movies article make me giggle snort – especially this:

    We will make love in every way imaginable, assuming you only know two or three ways and don’t expect oral sex.

    ETA – just saw Tina’s post and now I understand the Robin Thicke song a little better. Still find the lyrics confusing.

  21. Tina
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:34:22


    Ok, I hadn’t heard anything, so I’ll concede the possibility as you just never know about people.

  22. Jane
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 09:35:39

    @Tina: The only reason I know this is I mentioned to a friend how cute it was that Robin and his wife have been together forever and that it seemed their long term relationship had bucked the trends. She emails me back and is like – nope, cheater – with like a hundred links. I was so sad.

  23. MarieC
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 10:23:07

    Regarding the Tom & Jerry cartoons, I think it’s kind of odd that they would do that. I bought a collection of Looney Tunes that had a disclaimer at the beginning of each DVD, presented by Whoopi Goldberg, that the cartoons were a product of the time, wrong then and wrong now, but unedited.

    I think there was some controversy a while back about Speed Gonzales too.

  24. azteclady
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 11:00:30

    I really hate the tendency to clean up history. For a long time now I’ve wanted to get a copy of Disney’s Song of the South, and it irks me to know that it’ll never be released for sale, because dog forbid it’s offensive to modern sensibilities. It’s a freaking product of its times, for goodness’ sake, and part of history.

  25. Juliana Stone
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 11:13:04

    @Tina: Sorry, Tina, that is just my opinion from a technical point of view.

  26. Jules
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 11:46:34

    My opinion on the whole Miley thing is that it is just sad. She seems like she is trying to hard to prove that she is not the Disney kid anymore and to her the way to do that is gimmicks like this. I wish she would have went the “I am not longer a kid, but now a classy adult” sort of route … but giving what I know about child stars moving to adulthood, it may not even be an option.

    I don’t think she should be slut shamed and agree it has been going on. I think the whole performance was tacky and everyone involved in the performance is to blame. But controversy sells.

    Also I just want to leave this here. (be careful though, sound autoplays). I had a good chuckle out of these.

  27. Mara
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 11:55:05

    Erasing history is all kinds of wrong. That these cartoons and movies make us uncomfortable now just proves we’re making progress, despite how far we still have to go.

  28. Laura
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 11:57:12

    The Miley/Robin/2Chainz etc. performance is exactly what I expect from MTV-we’re gonna throw a few big stars together in a big, tacky spectacle that will generate a ton of press for our cable channel which is really no longer musically relevant.

    Personally, I’d rather everyone be talking about the Macklemore/Ryan Lewis/Mary Lambert performance. Beautiful.

    I’m a 48 year old woman, and what I see in Miley (and Taylor Swift for that matter) are women barely out of their teens, coming into their young adulthood in full view of the public. With teams of publicists and managers who are coaching them to exploit that for all the publicity and attention they can get. Just like when I was that age, they are going to do a lot of stupid, embarrassing, immature crap; except theirs is captured for constant consumption. (I threw my incriminating photos away in my 30s)

    Regarding Robin Thicke, he’s no Marvin Gaye. ( Hey, hey, hey.) I cannot fathom why he would dress up like Beetlejuice and let a 20 year old grind on him, unless maybe it was for publicity? Nah.

  29. Lada
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 12:14:05

    @Tina: I actually think Thicke is a crappy singer/songwriter because he plagiarizes. Everyone is currently focusing on Blurred Lines because of current (over) radio play but a couple of his older songs are stunning outright copies of Marvin Gaye.

  30. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 12:29:00


    Respectfully, it was more than simply a “freaking product of its times.” It was racial propaganda, and that’s a big part of the reason you don’t see it. Disney has a sad history of using minorities for laughs, and yet some people will still claim to this day they don’t see what the problem is. Check out some of the comments on this link:

    The folksy, backward talking, grinning character called Uncle Remus has a history all its own. But it was also used to tell blacks how to behave in order to advance in segregated society (my own opinion).

    Part of the problem is unless you’ve experienced people who’ve been influenced by some of these older “classics” and I stress the word influenced, those who think Tar Baby and the lot, and the way they mimic blacks is just so precious, how could anyone object? Then it’s difficult to have a dialogue.

    Some people still enjoy those films, much like Amos ‘n Andy, Beulah, etc. But not only were they a product of their times, but they continued to spread a demeaning and false depiction of an already maligned culture. But, I do suck it up and still buy Aunt Jemima pancake mix. For those who don’t know, “Aunt” and “Uncle” was a way not to call someone black Mr. or Mrs. Many were called solely by first names, or even someone else’s name, depending on how the employer felt. But the title of Mrs. or Mr. was thought to give someone considered unequal, an equal status. and that just wouldn’t do back then.

    Edited to add: Some people feel what Miley Cyrus was doing was wiggling her butt. Twerking is a lot more involved than her attempt, based upon what some younger members of my family told me during the VMAs. Perhaps that’s where some of the anger is coming from, because she wasn’t very good at it.

    Maybe also, while this is a phase for her, if she wasn’t Miley from Hanna Montana acting out, and say, Rihanna doing this dance, would there be such an outcry? So this controversy has many layers.

  31. azteclady
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 12:36:12

    @wikkidsexycool: Yes, they ARE racist–and they exist, and they were aired and now they make us uncomfortable and most of us (at least I hope it’s most of us) see how wrong, condescending, patronizing, dismissive, etc. is it. But it is what it is–it is the product of a time when racism and segregation were considered just and right by the majority of people. It’s history–rewriting history is never a good thing. Learning from it is what we should be doing, not whitewashing it to make it shiny pretty.

  32. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 13:11:31


    What you’ve stated is all very pretty and easy to say, except its a lot harder to do in practice.

    So why is it that the maligned culture has to make “we” feel better by not being offended by these portrayals while “we” feel they’re just history and want them to continue as is?

    If this were about women being portrayed as dumb, grinning creatures, “we” would probably be in solidarity. It’s not until it affects someone of the “we” group that its explored for problems in perception that still linger today. It’s funny how these creations are considered beloved classics and historically important when created by the dominant culture that enjoyed them, warts and all.

  33. Mara
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 13:52:40


    A creation can be historically important, even beloved, and at the same time be taken apart, examined, and “explored for problems in perception.”
    Your response is confusing. What are you suggesting we do with these classic cartoons and films? Erasing them or hiding them away is not exploring the problem. It’s denying it.

    I cringe, watching episodes of I Love Lucy where Lucy’s treated like a child and even “humorously” spanked. I’m female and I don’t like the way Lucy and Ricky’s relationship was often portrayed, even as comedy. But I don’t advocate destroying the evidence of the way women were often treated (and are still treated today.)

    Just because something is more difficult to do in practice–shouldn’t we still try? How are we resolving anything by hiding old films away in a dark basement?

  34. SAO
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 14:16:23


    I doubt Disney has any interest in history, clean or not. They do care about their image and what can sell, which is not anything too offensive the average person today. I’d probably by very leery of buying my kids a Disney movie if I got one with troubling racial stereotypes.

    As a side point, my kids were given a Russian pirate Tom and Jerry film, where a Mammy-type character showed up. By the time I’d paid enough attention to realize it was there, my kids had watched the cartoons a lot. I questioned them and discovered that they assumed “Mammy” was the owner of the elegant home and the blonde girl who showed up infrequently was her visiting niece. I didn’t enlighten them and didn’t confiscate the DVD, figuring they’d updated it in their own (naive) way.

  35. azteclady
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 14:31:36

    @wikkidsexycool: By all means be offended by what is, undeniably, racist.

    Don’t, however, deny it existed. Don’t “clean it up” for today’s market. That is my problem.

    As SAO said, Disney is not releasing Song of the South because it doesn’t want to offend its current customers–their right, and I much prefer that, than having them try to erase the past.

  36. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 14:43:55


    Sorry, but it’s not as if racial attitudes/divisions will disappear if they were edited.

    While I have no use for them, and do more than cringe when I see old Aunt Jemima posters being sold on the internet, or The Three Golliwogs being wistfully remembered, I do get that they hold a special place in the hearts of others.

    Rest assured, these images will never totally go away because they’re considered “beloved” and “classics.” And while I use “we” there is no “we” when it comes to viewing whether these cartoons or films or TV shows should or shouldn’t be white washed. To some, they represent a time and place of emotional attachment with fond memories. I happen to be on the other side of the issue.

    I’m not as hopeful that there would be a balanced and thoughtful exploration of these caricatures, as they’ve been around and available freely on the internet.

    You bring up cringing at how Lucy was spanked, yet Lucy still had status and value as a white woman. And history shows the murders of those who were even thought to have dishonored someone like her, especially those of color.

    I must also add that imho Lucy and Desi Arnez were the first interracial couple on TV, and that is groundbreaking.

    Edited to add: Yes, I’m aware Disney pulled and is keeping Song of the South in the vault for their own business reasons. Much like the companies who pulled away from Paula Deen, it’s not personal, its just business.

  37. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 15:01:11


    “Don’t, however, deny it existed. Don’t “clean it up” for today’s market. That is my problem.”

    I’m not sure where you’re getting that from my post (s). I, and others live with this every day, so there’s no chance of denying it ever existed.

    It can never truly be “cleaned up.”

    It’s still around in one form or another, even if those caricatures are edited. New ones will, and have replaced them (Obama’s “hope” poster changed to include a rope around his neck, and the word hope changed to “rope” for example).

    I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. If I never have to see another reminder of the days of inequality, or resurrected unwittingly by current advertisers (Nike’s shackle sneakers for example) I’ll be just fine. If not, I’ll just have to deal with it as usual, by saying what I have to say, but not letting it rule my world.

  38. Amber
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 15:26:11


    Me, too. To simply deny access to a work because it contains offensive racial stereotypes is wrong. Far better to share that time capsule, outline what’s wrong with it, discuss it… Disney released old Mickey cartoons with Leonard Maltin prefacing problematic shorts with an explanation. Why can’t they do the same with Song of the South?

    I’m not sure why everyone’s ok with this type of restricted access for offensive film or TV. Few people agree it’s ok re: offensive books. Why the difference?

  39. Bronte
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 15:45:16

    ” For those who don’t know, “Aunt” and “Uncle” was a way not to call someone black Mr. or Mrs. Many were called solely by first names, or even someone else’s name, depending on how the employer felt”
    Interesting. Not being raised in the US I would have had no idea about this. I was raised calling any adult who was a close friend of the family Uncle this or Aunt that as a sign of respect so that connotation would have gone right over my head.

  40. Cindy
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 16:33:31

    @Bronte I was raised in the US and never heard of it either. My friends all called my parents aunt and uncle as I called theirs aunt and uncle. It was a term of endearment.

  41. azteclady
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 16:43:47

    @wikkidsexycool: I apologize for not being clear–I didn’t mean *you* in the personal, I meant it in the universal.

  42. EmilyAnn
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 17:16:59

    I didn’t read all the posts but I’ve got to jump on the one about twerking being associated with black women and sex workers!!! That’s offensive to black women. Since when do slutty dance moves get assigned to certain races? First off its a dance move this been around for at least 10 years as in I can recall people doing those moves in at HS dances and that was by girls of all races. You might associate it with black women but that’s your prejudice showing, not Miley’s. The race angle bothers the hell out of me. Music is one of the few artistic mediums where blacks aren’t underreppresented in popular culture. Maybe in some genres, country comes to mind, but in the industry overall, music is a pretty colorblind thing. Therefore white artists should feel free to appropriate black culture as Elvis and the Beatles both did. This Miley thing is CRAP. Women have been dancing suggestively on stages for eons. I don’t see a problem with a woman of legal age doing what she wants on a stage. Let it go people ad quit with the slut shaming!

  43. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 17:37:32


    Hello Bronte and Cindy,

    There’s a reason why I mentioned Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, as these are icon brands still using the designation. Another was “Uncle Rastus” the guy who was on the Cream of Wheat box. During segregation, these were terms tacked on the front of older blacks, and sometimes the greeting would be, “Can I help you Uncle?” or “Can I help you Auntie?” Then there’s the term “boy” which would be applied to a black male, regardless of their age. Young black women were sometimes called “girl” or “gal”.

    Maybe this link will help:

    My point was simply that using a proper complete name, like Mrs. J Smith to address someone black wasn’t the norm. However, those who did were considered “progressives” (that was the term used in some circles that I recall before “liberals” came into fashion) regarding race relations.

    I’ve included another link for the use of the term in the present day, from the National Association of Black Journalists:

    “aunt, uncle: When not referring to a family relationship, the terms may be insensitive or offensive depending on its context. Historically, whites used the names often for any black person in servitude. (See Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom.) Today, the names are used in the black community as terms of endearment or respect for non-family members or close family friends. Traditionally in the South, children are expected to address an adult by an honorific, Miss, Maam, Aunt, Mister, Uncle or Sir.”

    I couldn’t include the link because the spam filter got it, since I already have one link in this post. I will create another post with the link in it.

  44. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 17:46:30

    Okay, here is the link for the National Association of Black Journalists on the current and former use of “Aunt” and Uncle”

  45. Willaful
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 19:57:09

    @wikkidsexycool: I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the issue that way before. Thank you for the insights.

  46. Annamal
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 20:20:21

    Hi wikkidsexycool, thanks for that, like Bronte, I’m non-US so it would honestly never have occured to me.

    I did know about dimmunitives (like boy) being deeply offensive but here I would say that Auntie was definitely a term of respect in multiple cultures (Indian and Maori definitely).
    There is even a Maori language tv show called Ask your Auntie which features a revolving panel of women giving advice on anything and everything.

    It is really good to know about these kinds of cultural landmines.

  47. Susan
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 20:24:01

    Loved the bookstore twitter smackdown. :-)

    I found MC’s performance(s) to be pathetic and desperate. And gross. Pretty much par for the course for the VMAs, of course, but it’s embarrassing that she thinks this is the way to prove to people that she’s grown up and relevant. It reminds me of other young performers that have gone/seem to be going down the train wreck route (Lohan, Bieber, Speers, etc). Nothing at all entertaining or appealing about it. But, I’m old, so maybe I’m just not getting it.

  48. Jamie
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 20:45:51


    1. Twerking was invented by black people. But now that it’s been co-opted by Miley Cyrus it’s worthy of being discussed. If blacks do it, who cares? If whites do it, it’s discussion-worthy. Which leads me to me next point.

    2. The music industry is not colorblind. I seriously cannot believe that you wrote, “Therefore white artists should feel free to appropriate black culture as Elvis and the Beatles both did.” The issue that black people have with white people appropriating black culture today is that just like in the 60s when the Beatles and Elvis were doing their thing, black artists get pushed to the side. Let’s look at the VMAs for example. By my count, there were 4 white artists performing R&B/hip hop – Miley, Robin Thicke, Macklemore, and Justin Timberlake. There were 2 black performers.

    Who won best hip hop video? Macklemore. The same Macklemore who recently said in an interview that he wouldn’t be having as much success as he’s having if he wasn’t white. Because it’s true.

    Who’s had the biggest hit of the summer (regardless of whether or not you like the song)? Robin Thicke.

    By the way, I like Robin Thicke and I ADORE Justin Timberlake, but don’t think it doesn’t burn me when I see articles asking where the black male R&B singers are. They’re right where they’ve always been. Recording music and occasionally getting played on Top 40 stations, which is where you want to be if you really want to make money and get attention.

    Race matters in the music industry like every other industry. It doesn’t get a pass because some blacks have had success. It is NOT a colorblind industry.

  49. wikkidsexycool
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 20:57:41

    Hello Willaful and Annamal,

    You’re both very welcome. An exchange of information on cultural history is always a good thing, so it was my sincere pleasure to share it, and to read both your responses because I strive to be a lifelong learner.

  50. B. Sullivan
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 21:05:48

    There are a lot of parallels with the “Miley shocks parents” kind of headline and – eons ago – Elvis’ dancing wigging out some of the public as being immoral or too sexual. Elvis is also an example of someone using songs created by black artists and selling them to a white audience. (Not that he was the first or only one to do this.)

    Not saying that this isn’t something to question. It just is sort of the way pop music has always repackaged music to resell it – or to sell certain singers. Frankly as long as people are questioning it? I’m happy. Also that we’re noticing which media are using this as a headline, and how the issue is covered – because I’m noticing that it varies depending on the source.

  51. Bronte
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 23:08:26

    @wikkidsexycool: Thank you also. I was aware of “boy” being offensive but similarly to the Maori population, Aboriginal elders in Australia are often called Auntie or Uncle as a sign of respect. I think it demonstrates how easy it is to cause offence without knowing the background to a word (or even a gesture) in a different population of people.

  52. Rachel at BacknGrooveMom
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 05:44:10

    just to reiterate what you said – it was a rehearsed act …. how about we question the producers?

    ….and, yes I want to make love like in the movies, too. I just texted my travel agent recently about looking at a trip to Italy and I quote said “I want to drive around in a little Alfa Romeo convertible with my hair blowing and looking all seductive like in a rom com.”


  53. Kim in B altimore
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 09:01:23

    Having grown up in the South, I remember the terms “Auntie” and “Uncle” being used as terms of endearment for all races. I do recognize that it may be consider derogatory in some areas.

    As Bronte pointed out, Auntie and Uncle are used affectionately by Pacific islanders. After living in Hawaii for four years, I’ve come to appreciate it! I embraced the culture that showed genuine affection for its ohana (family), especially the elders:

    Pipili no ka pîlali i ke kumu kukui.

    The pîlali gum sticks to the kukui tree.

    Said of one who remains close to a loved one all the time, as a child may cling to the grandparent he or she loves.

  54. cead
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 11:32:39

    @B. Sullivan: There’s a key difference between Miley and Elvis, though. Elvis, whatever his faults, was a very good singer with a wonderful voice and a good sense of rhythm. Miley… as far as I can tell, Miley has no talent whatsoever. She can’t sing; she can’t dance (twerking or otherwise); she’s got no rhythm; her most notable ability is her weird imitation of those guys from KISS with the creepy tongue. There are a lot of other artists who could have put on a much better show even had the overall outline of that performance been the same. Compare Rihanna, who also occasionally gets criticised for being too racy: she might cross lines, but that girl’s unquestionably very talented. Or Lady GaGa, who has made her entire career out of being provocative and shocking, but who is also legitimately talented and knows exactly what she’s doing. Miley’s not just racy, she’s untalented and seems kind of out of control. Why was she given that slot in the first place when there are much more talented performers?

  55. Rue
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 18:19:16

    “@Cindy: I was raised in the US and never heard of it either. My friends all called my parents aunt and uncle as I called theirs aunt and uncle. It was a term of endearment.”

    What part of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ruckus were not the aunt and uncle to lily white blond people is so hard to understand? Do you, as a modern adult, go about calling people with whom you aren’t familiar aunt and uncle? No, you say Sir or Ms/Mrs, till given permission to use given names. Why then, couldn’t these “products of their times” do the same? I’ll wait.
    Oh, to be a clueless white person.

  56. Jane
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 18:21:11

    @Rue: I know you mean well, but please look at the commenting policy that is directly above the commenting box.

    I felt like we were having a great exchange of information here where people were being educated. Calling people names does not facilitate a learning environment. Thank you.

  57. Rue
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 18:29:29

    And with regards to the actual posts:

    I never heard about the slut0-shaming aspects of Miley’s performance. I assumed we all hated it because, and I cannot state this enough, IT SUCKED. There were also many comments on cultural appropriation and the “legitimizing” of black culture but white people. The slut-shaming aspect flew right over my head.

    As for the Tom and Jerry snafru, I agree with a previous commenter who said maybe release two versions, with one containing the blackface and a warning. I know if I was watching and that bit popped on screen, I would smash the DVD to bits, so a warning would be helpful.

  58. MikiS
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 20:48:50

    @Rue: For what it’s worth, I was another of the folks raised to call any neighbor or adult friend of the family “Aunt” or “Uncle”. So as a child raised that way, I would have seen “Aunt Jemima” as a way to make her seem like a friend of the family.

    I am always willing to learn when I’m being careless and hurting other unthinkingly. (If I’m thinking about it – well, then I’m usually being too mule-headed to changed at that point!) It’s taken me forever to remember to use “Asian” rather than “Oriental”, but I truly was clueless that it was seen as an insult.

    I only hope that people can appreciate that it really may be unthinkingly done when people use language like this that others find offensive. It may be that at certain times, or in certain cultures, or in certain areas people use words – such as “boy” – to insult. But to some of us not raised that way, it really is just a word to describe young male humans. And as someone over 50…I call most young male humans under 30 “boys”!

    I don’t care to be told to smile (“a woman as pretty as you should always be smiling”) by men who would never say that to other men, but I try to recognize that for some, it’s a power play, and for others it’s a sort of mild flirtation. I know that’s a weak example – it certainly doesn’t compare to the insult of “boy” for adult black men – I just remember it as the one – when I was younger and more willing to fight about it – that used to make me crazy.

  59. Rue
    Aug 28, 2013 @ 22:10:59

    I understand the cultural background. What I was trying to say, and what another commenter said, is that while the terms were endearing for some, they were also insults. So neighborly courtesy was one thing, but when you consider the fact that Blacks and Whites rarely lived side by side in the South (and even in the North), it was unlikely. “Auntie” and “Uncle” were most often used in lieu of saying Miss or Mister, which were thought of as too highfalutin for black people. So if a black woman and a white woman walked into a store, the white woman, regardless of age, would get “Hello, Ms/Mrs —–, How can I help you today?”, while an elderly black woman would get “What can I get for you, Aunt So-and-So”. Young black women just got the first name.

    And I understand the not-knowing aspect of certain terms, especially those with which we aren’t familiar. But it really hits me right in the gut when someone born and raised in the United States, and in the South of all places, just “doesn’t know” how certain words might be offensive. A good Litmus test is to ask whether you’ve heard the reverse. That is, a black child calling a white, older, non-acquaintance “Auntie” or “Uncle”. I’ve never lived in the South, but from all the media I’ve seen/heard, it has never happened once.

  60. Junne
    Aug 29, 2013 @ 03:08:46

    About the whole censorship thing, it made me think about “Three Little Pigs” that was censored, too: only the part removed was because of antisemitism ( Big Bad Wolf portrayed as a jewish man).
    Do you think people would have been fine if the movie was rereleased now with the original characters, only with a warning beforehand?
    So how is it any different with Tom&Jerry in blackface?

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