Miley Cyrus ‘twerking’ goes viral, sparks anger

Agence France-Presse
After the young singer's VMA stunt, 'twerking' officially enters the Oxford dictionary

SHE CAN'T STOP. Miley Cyrus is unflustered by the hail of criticism. Photo from her Facebook

NEW YORK CITY, USA – Miley Cyrus’s raunchy performance at the MTV awards has ignited an online firestorm, prompting calls for heads to roll at the station while leaving others wondering: what exactly is twerking?

The former Disney child star, now 20, took to the stage at the awards ceremony in New York on Sunday night to perform alongside singer Robin Thicke on his song “Blurred Lines.”

READ: 2013 MTV VMA Highlights

Cyrus, who first pranced around suggestively with a host of giant teddy bears, eventually stripped down to a skin-colored bikini before gyrating in a suggestive manner with a giant foam finger.

Then came the twerking.

With her trademark move of sticking her tongue out, Cyrus bent over and energetically gyrated up against Thicke’s crotch.

Described on various Internet sites as the lascivious shaking of the lower extremities with a big assist from the hips, the popular and also notorious hip-hop move has enjoyed a massive revival in recent years.

Pop star Justin Timberlake, whose reunion with ‘N Sync briefly stole headlines after the MTV awards, sang his 2006 hit “SexyBack”: “Let me see what ya twerkin’ with, look at those hips!”

Cyrus, who twerked away in her video, “We Can’t Stop,” has come under fire for appropriating black culture for her own profit.

In the “Huffington Post,” entertainment editor Kia Makarechi slammed Miley’s “reckless use of black culture as proof that she’s subversive and no longer a Disney star.”

Actress Brooke Shields, who played Cyrus’s mother on the popular kids’ show, “Hannah Montana,” expressed concern in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show.

“I was Hannah Montana’s mother. I do not approve,” Shields said. “Where did I go wrong? I just want to know who’s advising her, and why it’s necessary?”

‘White appropriation of black culture’

The Parents Television Council (PTC) hit out at MTV for “marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars.”

“MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate ‘twerking’ in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds?” read the PTC statement.

“Heads should roll at MTV,” said PTC Advisory Board Member Paul Porter.

Oddly enough, the pop-star’s equally famous father Billy Ray Cyrus serves on the PTC board.

The “New York Times” highlighted the “clumsy white appropriation of black culture,” accusing Cyrus of molesting Thicke in a “shambolic, trickster-esque performance.”

Heidi Cardenas, a mother of two teenage boys, wrote on CNN’s Facebook page that Cyrus was “making a vulgar joke out of her talents and her beauty” and had let down her fans.

However the young songstress, who was the richest teen in Hollywood in 2011, was unflustered by the hail of criticism, mocking web articles and twerking memes.

She tweeted remarks from “Rollling Stone” magazine that she had “stolen the night,” and posted a few more racy pictures of herself.

“My VMA performance had 306,000 tweets per minute. That’s more than the blackout or Superbowl!” she wrote on Twitter.

‘Twerking’ enters lexicon

The moves, borrowed from US hip-hop culture, have been colloquially known as twerking for around 20 years.

But the term has now received official recognition after being included in the latest revision of Oxford Dictionaries Online, it revealed Wednesday.

“By last year, it had generated enough currency to be added to our new words watch list, and by this spring, we had enough evidence of usage frequency in a breadth of sources to consider adding it to our dictionaries of current English,” explained Katherine Connor Martin of Oxford Dictionaries Online.

“There are many theories about the origin of this word, and since it arose in oral use, we may never know the answer for sure.

“The current public reaction to twerking is reminiscent in some ways of how the twisting craze was regarded in the early 1960s, when it was first popularized by Chubby Checker’s song, ‘The Twist,'” she added.

Other new words recognized by the English language gatekeeper include “selfie,” for a self-photograph taken on a mobile phone, online currency “Bitcoin,” and “hackerspace”. –

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