Twerking Miley Cyrus brought the word “twerking” back into the news by shocking the audience of the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night. “Whether she was stripping to her underwear, grinding on a foam finger or twerking with giant teddy bears, Cyrus left jaws on the floor (though not in a good way.),” reported the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 26, 2013.
For those who didn’t see twerking Miley Cyrus at the VMA on Sunday night or for those who aren’t familiar with the word “twerking,” the question of “what is twerking?” has been an unusual news topic.
Even without understanding what “twerking” means, everyone understands the reaction to it.
“Media reaction to Cyrus' bump-and-grind veered between disgust and sadness.”
Joining the media in its “disgust and sadness” reaction to twerking Miley Cyrus are other TV personalities, actors, anyone who considers themselves to be a celebrity, and, of course, parents.
On NBC's "Today" show, guest co-anchor Brooke Shields, who played Miley's mom on "Hannah Montana," called the performance "desperate." The Parents Television Council issued a statement calling the fact that MTV allowed twerking Miley Cyrus on stage as “unacceptable,” and "Real Time" host Bill Maher took to Twitter to comment: "Haven't been in a strip club in awhile, but good to see nothing has changed."
So what exactly is twerking?
While the word “twerk” or “twerking” is not listed in most dictionaries, twerking has been around for the past 20 years and is a sexually suggestive dance move that includes shaking the hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion (rather than side to side).
Adding the right kind of clothing (or lack thereof), as in the case of twerking Miley Cyrus as seen in the full 6-minute VMA video, and some props (as seen in the video), one is indeed reminded of the strip clubs that popularized twerking after the twerking move became popular in 1993 when DJ Jubilee recorded the dance tune "Do The Jubilee All" in which he chanted, "Twerk baby, twerk baby, twerk, twerk, twerk."
With its 1993 introduction into hip-hop culture by way of the New Orleans bounce music scene, 20-year-old twerking Miley Cyrus might have thought that she is reviving some old “twerking” tradition.
Unfortunately, what is understood to be fame for some is defamation for others. Just a few months ago, 33 students from San Diego’s Scripps Ranch High School were suspended for using school equipment to make a twerking video on school grounds that was later uploaded to YouTube. The students, who were athletes and honors students, got expelled.
Those honors students should have done the twerking performance on a stage like twerking Miley Cyrus. Instead of being expelled, they’d be rich and famous.