This is actually similar to what my girlfriend has said, but I haven't seen it, so I can't really comment on it. The interviews I've read don't read this way to me but I imagine the doc is probably more accurate.
There's a bunch of stuff here that I want to talk about.
Having concinced you of her transgressing gender norms, I have to draw your attention to the persistent use of gendered racism in America - the denigration of black women as "ratchet," the novelization of "twerking," the "jezebel" archetype etc. What Miley has done in recent months, particularly at her VMA performance, is to adopt those very same racial stereotypes and project them as a white woman. Her facetious approach to sexuality and the way it relates to black identity (by adopting "twerking," playing a song that is viewed as "ratchet") is holding a mirror up to the highly racialized caricature of fear and anxiety that the white population has of black sexuality. Seeing those very racialized actions coming from the body of a white female is viewed, despite the very very obvious parodical nature of the performance, as being repugnant and unbecoming of a person of her stature in society. Miley is not holding the black culture in contempt, but is instead holding the way her primary audience views black culture in contempt. (There is a very good chance everything I just wrote makes zero sense) I think that it's a little off putting to demand an in depth understanding of the culture in this case, Miley (however appropriate it may be to do so) is utilizing black culture to distance herself from the white hegemonical system she is bound to. There's a whole mess of entanglements about whether she's privileged or horrible to "use" black culture in this way, but it's my belief that the appropriation of and sharing of ideas is an important cultural exchange and will inevitably serve to level the playing field and make people recognize that there *is* no cultural exchange in America, because "black" and "white" don't really exist in the way we conceptualize them.
As far as the "harlem shake" is concerned, I don't find that to be of equitable stature, but I understand the way you're approaching it. I think in that instance it's important to separate, again, the wya the white audience treats it - as a joke - and the way that Bauuer, the artist, feels about it. His intention isn't to distract from the actual Harlem Shake or to turn it into something else, that is a result of white audiences projecting their contempt for black art (both the dance and the styles that Bauuer appropriates) onto the song itself and treating it as a joke.
Wow man, You just blew my mind. I guess it all just depends on the cultural lens you are using to view Miley Cyrus. My thinking comes from the fact that I don't think that she or anyone else (besides you) recognizes that she is making this statement as this is the first time I have heard about it. My question is, if no one really recognizes this as her statement is it making any kind of a difference? Also, do you think she intended to use black culture to "distance herself from the white hegemonical system she is bound to" or is it a situation where she just saw something that she thought was cool and used it? Is Miley Cyrus smart enough to make that kind of a statement? I have to say no, not because she is a woman or a celebrity, but because she is a 20 year old who (I feel) is just rebelling against everything she was in search of her own identity. Yeah, so I guess I think that for her this is nothing more than an identity crisis that just happens to be broadcast on television. I guess it doesn't matter whether she intended it or not because like with literature it is all about the reader or in this case the viewer's interpretation. I like your interpretation way better than mine because I feel I want to believe that that kind of an artistic/cultural statement could be made in our mainstream culture, but I remember what I was like when I was 20 and I can't imagine this to be anything more than her trying to discover who she is.
As far as the "no cultural exchange in America" thing. I don't know if I agree with you so much here. I am not saying that I am for any kind of segregation but I feel that there should be a certain respect for culture because you cannot really separate the culture from the history. For example, a ton of amazing African American works are about slavery. Now as a white person, I will never be able to fully grasp or understand something like that because my "race" has never gone through something like. We have different cultural identities because the concept of race has caused us to experience the world in a different way. As we move further away from slavery, that line becomes somewhat smaller but it will never truly disappear because of the incredible art and culture of African American people. Now I am not sure where "twerking" falls in with slavery as a form of cultural identity, or even if it is celebrated as positive or negative within the culture. I guess that is something I should look into.
I look forward to viewing Miley's future endeavors through your cultural lens. Thanks for the long response and explanation. Hopefully everyone takes a few minutes to read it because it really is fascinating stuff.