CRAVEN’S NOTES: She twerks hard for the money
Free Press Music Columnist
If Obi-Wan Kenobi lived in the America of today, instead of a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, he might have suddenly sank into the cushions of his couch on Sunday night while clutching his chest and intoning gravely: “I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”
Those, of course, would have been everyone watching Miley Cyrus on MTV’s Video Music Awards.
Oh you didn’t hear about that? Well, of course not, seeing as how the news was filled with important stories about America preparing to go to war with Syria, and the ACLU suing the NSA, and another 300 tons of radioactive water pouring into the ocean from the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor in Japan.
So — be advised there was this performance by a 21-year-old skinny girl that involved a preternaturally extended tongue, a bunch of dancing teddy bears, a foam hand (which Miley Cyrus’ former employers at Disney are still thanking their maker had five fingers and not a Mickey Mouse-approved four), not much in the way of clothing or talent — oh, and twerking. A whole lot of twerking.
If you are a jerk whose berserk quirk is that you don’t know the word, “twerk,” Craven will work to clear the murk surrounding this strange new word. To twerk is (according to Britain’s Oxford Dictionary, which added “twerk” to its lexicon this week) to “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.” If you subtract the dancing business, that could be a description of Craven’s normal walking gait (although the word “twerp” is more freely used in describing yours twuly than “twerk” ever has been).
At any rate… where, you ask, did such a word originate? Since it emerged colloquially, no one really can say for sure, although it is almost certainly an example of a “blended” word, one created by taking two pre-existing words and mashing them together. (Other familiar examples of etymological blending include “motel,” “brunch” and “staycation.”) Katherine Connor Martin of Oxford Dictionaries theorizes that twerk “is an alteration of work, because that word has a history of being used in similar ways, with dancers being encouraged to ‘work it.’ The ‘t’ could be a result of blending with another word such as twist or twitch.”
Undoubtedly, there was a lot of twitching (and Tweeting!) following Miley’s twerking, with some folks just shocked, shocked I say, that the former Disney star was acting more bimbo than Bambi. Meanwhile, others were annoyed that Cyrus was being slut-shamed while Beetlejuice — I mean, Robin Thicke — got a pass while singing his date rape anthem, “Blurred Lines.”
But if there was a real crime in the Miley/Robin performance at the VMAs, it was that on a night when not a single black performer took home an award, the “big event” was yet another instance of white artists blatantly ripping off black performers (with Cyrus stealing her moves from black ratchet culture and Thicke stealing his song from Marvin Gaye). There they were: Two white stars who grew up rich as the children of celebrities, adopting the idioms and styles of the sort of disenfranchised black kids they never knew growing up. It’s their party, they can do what they want. Now THAT’S rock n’ roll.
Craven Lovelace is the producer of the Notes Blog & Podcast at http://cravenlovelace.com/notesblog and also writes about popular culture at the Cravenomena blog at http://cravenlovelace.com/cravenblog/. You can also find him on Facebook.
Notes is made possible by Tina Harbin of Real Estate West, the premier resource for all real estate information and services on the Western Slope.
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