by Indira Samuels
In recent months, I’ve gotten a dose of Miley Cyrus and Amanda Bynes that I never asked for and honestly, never expected. Both of these women have dynamically come back on the media scene as they have morphed into new likenesses that are undoubtedly their attempts at climbing ladders out of obscurity into the land of getting on my damn nerves, one twerk video and bad wig at a time.
With their resurgence has come Twitter shenanigan after Twitter shenanigan along with interviews on their new appearances where they’ve discussed the motives of some of these changes.
Amanda has openly admitted to altering her look to look more like Black Chyna, and if you don’t know who that is, here you go. While Miley has said in regards to her new music “I want urban, I just want something that just feels Black.” In the face of her quest for more “Black” music, many people have talked about her new standing with members of the hip-hop community with rappers like Juicy J as many accredit her for “single-handedly start(ing) a twerking craze,” which should be revised to single-handedly killing the word “twerk” whilst wearing a unicorn costume.
With all this, she has still renounced those who have accused her of trying to be a “hood” musician or a white Nicki Minaj and reminded everyone that she’s totally a real “singer” (a statement that I am confused about as it dissociates “hood” music from singing ability). Miley and Amanda’s antics may be playing out very differently, but they are both culprits in taking parts of black pop culture as a means to remake themselves while given little credit or respect to the culture they took from, a process known to many as appropriation.
White people appropriating black culture in the name of coolness has always been a thing, you can just ask Paul Mooney. From slang to dress to hairstyles, everything has seemed to be up for grabs to take, inevitably leading to a change in status of whatever was taken (i.e what may had been considered low class when it was mostly associated with black people may become high class and/or all the rage when white people partake in it. See nail art, twerking, and apparently grills for further examples).
Even though this is an old practice, we can’t ignore all of the appropriation at work for the sake of holding on to their relevance. No one has ever called Miley Cyrus the “white Nicki Minaj” outside of her Halloween costume and probably some of her friends. And I know Amanda Bynes can’t think that she really looks like Blac Chyna. This isn’t just a matter of these two women changing their styles as everyone is entitled to do that, this is more a matter of Amanda and Miley stealing from black pop culture for the sake of edginess (well, maybe it’s not working so much Amanda, because, well, you know) while also insulting the very culture they have stolen from.
In Miley’s statements, she in many ways dismissed music categorized as “hood” to be of a lesser art form than the “singer” she believes herself to be even though she wants her music to have an urban, trap feel, which both sound hood to me. And Amanda (while she alleges being a victim of Twitter hacking several times) attacked songstress Rihanna, calling her “ugly” and blaming her appearance for her previous abusive relationship.
I’ve never been a big fan of either Miley or Amanda, but I’m even less of a fan white people becoming hot topics for things that their black counterparts were already doing and not just already doing, but also being demonized for. I see that this isn’t going away and that there will always be more Miley’s and Amanda’s in the world, so I’m just going to keep watching these situations fizzle out, one to the next, and pass out pamphlets about appropriation.
What do you think of these cool white girls? Is it really just innocently changing their style to show how they’ve changed as people or capitalizing on black coolness?
Just another dose of white celebrities needing to refresh their sound and image and taking from urban/black culture to do so. It’s the history of our people. This is what they do. When their shit becomes stale they take from us.