Blog, Point of View // 09.12.2013

My Thoughts on the Display at the VMAs

Article by Abena

I didn’t watch the show but (unfortunately)  saw the clip on YouTube. Everyone was talking about ti so I decided to witness the fiasco for myself.  The clip and the comments that ensued left me with several questions:

  1. What happened to decency? Is this old-fashioned, oppressive concept that we can’t look to anymore? Damn.
  2. What happened to being classy?
  3. What happened to the art of seduction?
  4. Since when is wearing a skin-tight, barely there bikini, simulating masturbation in public, smacking other women’s bums,  sticking your tongue out and tasteless gyration an example of a young girl “growing up” or being liberated?  If that’s liberation, then please keep that to yourself.


Now that I’ve mostly recovered from the visual offence and had time to think about the discussions on sexuality, rape culture and cultural appropriation surrounding the performance, I will share a few of my own thoughts:


  1. The performance was nasty period (this includes that grown man participating in a grinding session with a girl just out of her teens).
  2. They aren’t the first ones to be nasty on TV.  Each time it’s shocking but still works in the benefit of the protagonist because as they say  “ bad press is better than no press”.  The sad thing is I’m sure it isn’t all bad press. Though most of it has been, I don’t think people are upset enough ( or that enough people are upset enough) because the show will go on and in a few years, the next child star is going to become a singer and do the same mess onstage with people supporting her “self-expression.” People support this mess.
  3. We are becoming less shocked by violence and sexual perversion and so each person that comes along needs to push the limits further.
  4. She might be dumb but it’s not because she’s young. She’s old enough  to know better.
  5. Then again what is “better” in a world or an industry at least that rewards this behavior with money, attention and reality shows?
  6. When it comes to sexuality, something  precious is being lost from men and women when we engage in such vulgar displays.
  7. This kind of thing makes me want to learn about what it really means to be empowered as a woman…and to wear longer skirts.
  8. It is true though that when Black women twerked no one paid any mind. If attention was paid by the mainstream it was in a negative light. I can see how people are upset that now that a  white girl does it, all of a sudden everyone knows what twerking is and news anchors and talk show hosts are talking about it like it’s something new and  it’s almost funny . I agree that this reflects the weight North American Society puts on “Black Culture” (Less than “white culture”). In principle this is a major problem;  I just don’t think “twerking” is the thing we should be up in arms about- there are more important things that are being appropriated- stolen like medicine- While the people themselves remain undervalued.
  9. It was demeaning for the Black women to be on stage merely as props, especially the woman whose behind “the girl” slapped…But seriously women, where is your self-respect? How did you feel about YOURSELF after being on that stage?
  10. I am now planning on what to tell my sons and daughters (when they are born) about how to respect themselves in this world where the mainstream culture encourages them to  exploit themselves or the race, culture or sexuality or another for fame and fortune.
  11. I am further encouraged to continue highlighting forward-thinking men and women in TEMPO. The people we feature represent a  culture to which I align myself with as a Black Woman, as an African Woman and as a Woman.  These are the things I will spend my money on and these are the role models towards whom I will direct my children. I have steep competition but hopefully they will see what is truly good for their spirits.

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