“Misbehaving at the Met”
F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote of Jay Gatsby’s parties: “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” The closest thing we can find to one of Gatsby’s parties, the Met Gala is an annual benefit and themed party attended by hundreds of stars. More than just champagne and cameras, the Gala’s theme kicks off a fashion exhibition open to the public and held at the Met’s Costume Institute (It is open as of May 4th and runs until September 4th, 2017). The theme this year was “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art of the In-Between,” only the second retrospective the Met has ever done on a living designer (Yves Saint Laurent’s exhibit in 1983 was the first). And as the cameras clicked on May 1st, photos flickered and came and went on social media amidst the gowns and the suits and the celebs.
Imagine the flashbulbs and smoke curling out of the ladies’ room at this year’s Met Gala. See Rihanna appropriately dressed in Comme des Garcons and Zendaya dramatically draped in Dolce & Gabbana.
After Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine, banned selfies at the Met Gala in 2015, stars took to the bathroom to cement their selfies in social media history:
But when board members caught wind of VIPs like Bella Hadid, Lara Stone, and Marc Jacobs, to name a few, smoking in the ladies’ bathroom, one even complained to Anna Wintour directly. The risk of cigarette smoke damaging the precious and vulnerable art throughout the Met is serious, and the celebs seemed to get themselves into even more trouble by documenting the drama on social media.
What are we left with? Pictures as proof of bedazzled misbehavior. Sometimes we damn ourselves with our own actions; it’s in our stars. Cigarettes and bathrooms seem to exhibit our very upmost self-destructive and human parts. And all we can do sometimes is stay in the moment until the next flashbulb goes off. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ineffable Myrtle—“All I kept thinking about, over and over, was ‘You can’t live forever; you can’t live forever…”
“Unity is What We Need”
Miley, Miley, Miley!
I actually loved you, I was one of your biggest fans. I attended your concert and now I’m attempting to figure out whether I regret it or not.
So when I read Miley Cyrus’ Billboard May Cover Story, I was disappointed to say the least and this story hit home very quickly.
As a senior, who is so keen on hip hop music that I dedicated 30 pages or more for my English senior thesis on the the hierarchy of language and music within the context of hip hop music, her statement was absolutely abysmal.
On May 3rd, Miley Cyrus conducted an interview and of course as the fan I was I immediately jumped at the opportunity to read it! Everything was going well until this question came up. Her response was even more problematic than the question itself.
Did folk singer Melanie Safka [with whom Cyrus performed in 2015] influence you?
She did, and I grew up with her. But I also love that new Kendrick [Lamar] song [“Humble”]: “Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.” I love that because it’s not “Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock.” I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much “Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock” — I am so not that.
This was my reaction…
There has been a consistent struggle between identifying her behavior or similar behavior as cultural appropriation. I say, “If the shoe fits…”
Miley Cyrus worked with one of the best hip hop producers, Mike Will Made it, when he produced seven of the thirteen tracks on her album, Bangerz. She was also featured on some of the most relevant hip hop artist’s albums, such as Future and French Montana.
So for her to completely flip the script and degrade hip hop music and reduce it to ” a scene” was utterly despicable and disrespectful.
What is a music scene? Unless this discussion was regarding a music video, she was completely out of context.
Hip hop is a culture, not “a scene”, let’s get that straight. This culture originated in the South Bronx during the 1970s and has been around ever since. There has been a lot of nuancing and modifying which is absolutely understandable as time passes.
Her statement dismisses hip hop’s culture into one specific song type. These lyrics are vulgar at times which is entirely undeniable, however that is not what makes hip hop, hip hop. The artists writing and performing lyrics that reflect their truths is what hip hop is. The crux of Miley’s issue is her inability to comprehend the music’s culture before she denounces it as a vulgar song. Vulgar songs appear in every genre, so her statement demonstrated ignorance on her part.
One thing that should never happen is for a country/pop artist to use the resources of hip hop music and its artists, profit from both the publicity and the sales of hip hop music that she appropriated and then say she’s leaving the “scene” because it’s not her. Like, give me a break!
Let’s be real, she appropriated the art of twerking (not that she did it correctly anyway) and made it “popular” when it was a part of a well established black culture of Bounce Music in New Orleans. Twerking may even go back to a dance called Mapouka in West Africa.
Celebrities including Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians see hip hop culture as a “trend of the week” or a “cute new style to debut.” They have appropriated hip hop’s music, hairstyles and fashion which are some of the most essential elements of the genre. However, these “new trends” are not new at all neither are they trends for that matter. This culture is not a trend, a fad, or something cute.
The problem with cultural appropriation is that hip hop music’s increasing radio play is a product of commercialization and popularization. These appropriating tendencies lend a hand to the formation of “mainstream hip hop.” This presents a problem as mainstream is the ideas, attitudes, or activities that are regarded as normal or conventional. Conventional hip hop music shouldn’t be according to those who determine what mainstream music is. The larger issue is that there shouldn’t be a distinction between “mainstream” and “underground.” All music is music and should be respected as such.
After social media reacted to her disheartening, viral comments, Miley attempted a recant:
‘To be clear I respect ALL artists who speak their truth and appreciate ALL genres of music (country , pop , alternative …. but in this particular interview I was asked about rap).’
‘At this point in my life I am expanding personally/musically and gravitating more towards uplifting, conscious rap!’
‘As I get older I understand the effect music has on the world & Seeing where we are today I feel the younger generation needs to hear positive powerful lyrics!’
At this point it was already way too late for me and I am sure many others.
I am like:
I believe that if she was concerned about the “truth” behind hip hop music’s content then she wouldn’t have made such horrendous comments to begin with.
Why should the culture be reduced to an aesthetic or something commercially convenient?
She says, “Because clearly unity is what we need.” How ironically asinine coming from someone who can’t even grasp one of the cultures of this country.
Until she makes some changes within herself, she needs to be quiet about what changes the country needs.
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