Things abroad are pretty bad (if you are in Syria, your world is likely ending for the 15th time in the last two years), but here at home all was pretty quiet.
But soft! Before I went to get that third cup so that my day could continue I saw the following headline:
Miley Cyrus Twerks, Stuns VMA Crowd
To which I said: what the hell is a Twerk?
A quick Internet search soon put me to rights, and then I recalled that The Diary of Samuel Peyps' contains what may be the first written record of a twerk in all of human history:
November 9, 1664
Up, and to the office, much immersed in Business. Thence by barge to Deptford, where I didst meet with my lady mistress Bagwell. She did the most extraordinary thing today. She didst position herself with her back towards me and then placed her hands on the insides of her thighs. Then she didst thrust out her bosom and arch her back until her prodigious rump did hover about my person like a randy round butterfly, though she didst not quite touch my noble personage with it and this did arouse within me the greatest of excitement, almost more so than if I were odscay eepday in her ugehay itstay1. Then – zounds!—she did gyrate her bottom with the most wicked and vexatious rhythm,, bouncing it betwixt the firmament above and the devil below at a rapid speed. Such a thing hath certainly never before been seen in England, and I doubt even the King himself doth know the measure of joy that I hath found in my Lady Bagwell and her incredible arse. After a while I could speak:“What is this glorious thing that thou art now doing?” I asked. “Tis called Twerking, my Lord,” she answered.
Where Lady Bagwell learned to shake it so well is one of history's great mysteries. Still, some twerks are clearly better than others. I did find Cyrus's performance over of the top and wholly out of place, but I am not going to clothe myself in self-righteous indignation and criticize her from a moral standpoint. It's nothing I haven't seen before, though I think in most places where I would have seen that sort of thing I'd have been obliged to slip a $5 bill into that bikini of hers out of sheer politeness, if not necessarily appreciation.
My only real problem with this would be that it seems like to take the stage at the VMAs should be a vindication of one's hard work; thinking about the years of effort on the part of musicians and back up dancers and stagehands alike, the accumulation of "talent" that built up to such a horribly vapid performance as the one seen last night, is just depressing. The best bands seem to value highly the opportunity to perform on the biggest of stages and take such things as seriously as their image will allow.
On the other hand, it would be stupid of me to forget rock and roll's Rimbaudian penchant for flipping the bird and saying "fuck you" to the governing conventions of the day. If Cyrus is doing that (even though she's found a damn conventional way to be unconventional) then I guess one could argue that she might be given a pass, though I have yet to hear anyone do so. More likely she is simply saying "Hey, look at me, I used to be Hannah Montana and now I'm not anymore", and she really doesn't deserve another thought.
1. Those who have come to grips with Peyps know that while his diary was extremely frank with regards to every aspect of his life -- including his regular philandering -- he did at least have the decency to cover the naughty bits with a veneer consisting of foreign languages, usually a mixture of French and Latin. I know neither, so you will have to settle for pig latin. I hope those of you who are familiar with the diary (all five of you) appreciated that little joke, though I apologize for the language. Still, I wouldn't put it past Peyps to say such a thing.