It's Not About the "Twerking"

Tim Brennan


This past Monday morning, I did not visit Facebook once. Silly me. I was in my recording studio working with a guy who had written a heartfelt, well-crafted song, meant to ease some troubled souls. The lyrics have subtlety and hit on truths while conveying a story. It’s the kind of song I want to hear, and to help create. We worked on counter melodies and rhythmic changes, and made arrangements to bring in some additional musicians.


All those hours collaborating on music, I had no idea what I was missing. Because when the session was over and I plugged back into the greater humanity through the Internet, I discovered the world had turned its focus to Miley Cyrus and the Video Music Awards.


What had I been thinking?


By perusing the internet, here is what I found:


1. “How do you have an elaborate awards show for something that (basically) doesn’t exist? Next up the Radio Theatre Awards” —Richard via FaceBook

Rick, I think I get you. The VMAs are the Video Music Awards. I know what a music video is supposed to be: a video promoting and telling the story of the song. So what is a "video music?" A song that tells the story of a video? And who uses video anyway? The same people who use payphones? Do the awards go the song maker or the video maker? Do you give an award for someone who actually uses video?


2. “I learned what ‘twerking’ is and I did not have to ask my son, or god forbid, my daughter.” – David via FaceBook

Here here, David.


3. Twerking: The rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter in one’s intended audience. —Urban Dictionary


4. “Wasn’t that just a wiggle? I thought twerking was way more…um….vertical.” – Mandy via Facebook. (Mandy was kind enough to also post a video of how to twerk.)


5. “I don’t see a difference between what Miley did and anyone else who shakes their ass on stage. But twerking can be incorporated into a fitness program: a fun, intense, and sexy one.” —Don, a friend of mine who makes his living taking beautiful photos of pole dancers all over the world. Yeah, rough life, there Don. He’s also a solid bassist and songwriter.


6. Robin Thicke is the son of a famous Hollywood actor, and has used his experiences on the mean streets of Beverly Hills to write songs that appeal to an urban culture. He also takes fashion cues from Beetlejuice. (Photo copied from Devin’s FaceBook page.)




To this point, I had yet to see the performance that rocked the world. So I checked it out for myself.


What I saw was absolutely nothing special or unique. If anyone is afraid that her actions will influence young women, I’ve got news for you: those early 20s girls who saw every episode of Hanna Montana are way ahead of Miley.


When I play out in my 80s tribute band, I see lots of young women who may wear more clothes than Miley, but dance, grind, and twerk a whole lot more risqué than Miley did at the VMAs. No, I’m not playing strip clubs. Just your typical college bars. I'll tell you stories over a beer someday.


As a father, what Miley did only makes me cringe a little. What I see at clubs can make me cringe more. But it certainly doesn’t shock.


As posted on FaceBook: “Open letter to Miley…. If you really want to shock us, write your own songs and perhaps learn to play an instrument.”  - Bryn.


Like this: That is just kind of sick. 


While all of this has been a fine distraction, and even led members of local bands to practice twerking (seriously, Kelly brothers???), it has done its job of promoting the VMAs so they can up their ad dollars next year. It’s given a boost to people like Thicke and Cyrus, and added new words to our lexicon.


Yet it all bugs me more than my light-hearted tone suggests. The fact that so many people reacted strongly to this performance suggests that we are bored out of our minds. The kind of boredom that leads to the killing of an Australian baseball player because there is nothing better to do. The kind of boredom that ends up in the beating death of a WWII vet by kids with time on their hands.


The kind of boredom, which may be simply an apathy to anything of global consequence. There is enough going on in the world that is worth our concern, but we debate the gyrations of a 20-year old? Things like the radioactive spill in Japan contaminating the Pacific Ocean take up none of our thoughts. Or the use of chemical weapons in Syria drawing our country into another armed conflict. Or even outrage over such boredom killings.


Maybe I can’t do much for the radioactive whales in the Pacific, the government policies, or random killings. I can focus on my immediate world. So today, after writing this, I will get back to that recording project. In that, I can make the world a better place. The songwriter hasn’t recorded in years and hopes to someday record his very first collection of his songs. That’s special. The song we are working on may make an impact on two people’s lives. A positive impact, we hope.

Those are the things I can focus upon to make a difference. Oh, and to teach my daughters how not to act. My eldest is already repulsed by Miley. So to quote Carl the groundskeeper “I’ve that that going for me.”