Miley Cyrus defined: Twerking, ratchet culture, 'dancing with Molly' and more
Like it or not, Miley Cyrus is not going anywhere anytime soon. The "We Can't Stop" singer will continue to be in your face with headline-making news for as long as she is promoting her new album -- or, as long as she keeps tweeting photos of her rear end.
Since there are many buzzwords associated with the 20-year-old pop icon that may not be familiar to everyone, Zap2it decided to save you the trouble of delving into internet research when you should be working, and explain things like "twerking," "dancing with Molly," "ratchet culture" and "big booty hoes" below. (You're welcome.)
The Oxford English Dictionary officially describes the verb "twerk" as dancing "to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance." Miley herself says it's a dance with "a lot of booty."
Miley twerked up a storm with "Blurred Lines" singer Robin Thicke during her now infamous 2013 MTV VMAs performance, and had previously posted on Facebook a solo twerking video in a unicorn onesie [see: "onesie" below]. She also frequently tweets photos of herself in various stages of twerk -- including the handstand-squat-against-a-wall "Express Yourself" move made famous by rapper Diplo.
Dancing with Molly:
The lyrics to Cyrus' first single "We Can't Stop" off her forthcoming album "BANGERZ" include: "So la da di da di / We like to party / Dancing with Molly / Doing whatever we want." "Molly" is the street name for MDMA, a popular -- and illegal in the United States -- club drug that also goes by the name "Mandy." It's an ultra pure, powdered or crystallized form of the drug more commonly known as "ecstasy."
There was some debate when "We Can't Stop" first dropped as to whether Cyrus was singing "dancing with Molly" or "dancing with Miley." She answers the question this way: "It depends who's doing what. If you're aged ten [the lyric is] 'Miley.' If you know what I'm talking about, then you know ... You can Google me and you know what I'm up to -- you know what that lyric is saying."
Miley was widely criticized after her 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance for her apparent recent obsession with so-called ratchet culture, which includes -- but is certainly not limited to -- the "Twerk" singer sporting some rather interesting wardrobe choices [see: "grill" below], and booty popping onstage with rapper Juicy J to a song that uses the term "ratchet" coupled with the P-word in a way that is demeaning to women.
The term "ratchet" was popularized by rap and hip-hop artists over the past decade, and implies a ghetto image or mentality, specifically with regard to African-American women. As New York Magazine points out, the term is largely pejorative in origin. It has parallels to the urban slang term, "hood rat." But female artists like Beyonce and Azealia Banks have recently made recent attempts to reappropriate the word -- in an apparent effort to "reclaim" some of the power behind the insult -- and Miley's new schtick seems to be the culmination of the hegemony cycle.
Big booty hoe:
Miley tweets with frequency about the elusive "big booty hoe." She posted several tweets around her November birthday, seemingly referencing rapper 2 Chainz' "Birthday Song" lyric, "All I want for my birthday is a big booty ho."
"Ho," of course, being the colloquial term for a prostitute. "Hoe," being a misspelling of "ho" that has been widely adapted as derogatory slang for a promiscuous -- or otherwise subject to degradation -- woman (e.g. Nicki Minaj's 2011 single "Stupid Hoe").
The website Vulture called Miley's VMA performance "a minstrel show" and many media outlets echoed the sentiment. Minstrelsy was a form of post-Civil War era entertainment that lampooned African-Americans, often included burlesque, and usually involved caucasian performers in blackface.
The suggestion is that Miley's use of African-Americans as buffoonish props in her over-the-top stage show is a drastic and offensive shortcut to distancing herself from an almost long-forgotten Disney image [see: "Hannah Montana" below].
Miley jumped on the onesie trend, however questionable in taste, and rode it hard into the public consciousness. She started by posting selfies and a twerking video in her unicorn onesie, and brought it full circle to the VMA stage in a french-cut, cleavage-baring, tongue-out, furry teddy bear leotard-type thing.
A then 18-year-old Cyrus was caught on camera in 2010, smoking out of a bong. She would later claim she was not smoking marijuana, but a legal herb called Salvia, which induces hallucinations on par with taking LSD or mushrooms. Miley later apologized, admitting she should be more careful as a role model. But it wasn't long until the pop icon was photographed smoking what appears to be weed on more than one occasion. Cyrus even told an Australian magazine in July that she feels better when she smokes pot than when she drinks booze. At 20-years-old now, Miley is not of legal drinking age in the U.S., and recreational marijuana is illegal in most states.
Miley is just one of the female pop stars who have glommed on to the hip-hop look of wearing teeth bling (Rihanna and Katy Perry are among Miley's comrades in "grillz"). The trend began in the rap community in the 1980s and saw its biggest surge in popularity with the mid-2000s rise of "Dirty South" rap. Nelly's 2005 hit, "Grillz" introduced rapper and grill-designer Paul Wall to the pop music world, and the rest is pretty much history.
For the uninitiated -- or those who were living under a rock between 2006 and 2010 -- the twerking, onesie-wearing, "big booty hoe"-loving pop star that rocked the 2013 VMAs rocketed to fame as Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana," a squeaky clean teenager who secretly moonlighted as a squeaky clean pop star.
The show garnered multiple Emmy nominations and inspired two G-rated musical movies. Brooke Shields, who played Hannah's late mother on the Disney show, was disappointed in Miley's recent VMA performance, calling it "desperate" and "disturbing." Meanwhile, Hannah's on-screen dad -- and Miley's real-life father Billy Ray Cyrus -- had no issues with his "little girl's" controversial performance.
Teddy bears, tongues, and Michael Jordan, oh my!:
And finally ... What's up with all the teddy bears taking up space on Miley's stage, in her music video, and on her torso, you may ask? Cyrus has yet to comment, but one might surmise the characters are referential to what happens in nightclubs and at music festivals -- whether real (costumes) or imagined (hallucinations) -- when Miley and her young MDMA-popping cohorts start "dancing with Molly" [see above].
The latest style Miley seems to have co-opted from hip-hop culture is an athletic apparel homage to NBA legend Michael Jordan. Cyrus has been photographed wearing Jordan's Chicago Bulls jersey in -- uh, varying forms -- and she raps (yes, really) on Mike Will Made It's forthcoming single "23." The song itself is said to be about Jordan's kicks (definition: sneakers).
As for Miley's constant tongue acrobatics of late, Gene Simmons called. He wants his gimmick back.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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