Twerking New or History Repeating Itself?

Twerking, New or History Repeating Itself?

The past two weeks the internet has been deluged with memes, articles, posts, filled with a fevered condemnation of the not so new phenom of “Twerking”.
According to Urban dictionary:

“Twerking is the rhythmic gyrating of the lower fleshy extremities in a lascivious manner with the intent to elicit sexual arousal or laughter in ones intended audience.”

Most recently, Oxford Dictionaries has added Twerk to its online dictionaries. Explaining that the online version is about modern American usage and the word will not make it to its paper dictionary.

Paper dictionary? Yes Virginia, an actual book with a cover on the front and back and paper in the middle. The REAL dictionary.
Merriam Webster and Dictionary.com do not recognize the word when searching their respective websites. For the bibliophiles of the world we let out a sigh of relief.
Since The VMA’s airing on Aug 25th, news feed across the social media networks have exploded with anger, and within this anger they just happen to add the video to their post. Then the news broke that Oxford was adding the word to their online dictionaries. The news feeds explode once more, with claims “I am moving out of the country” or “I give up on human beings”.

Before you all pack and head for the borders, let’s look at this through a different lens.
All of our disgust is due to one individual’s irrevocable classless performance, better left for a venue that requires identification to enter.
We have been here before. Quite a few times in fact and we all managed to move on with our lives, and the performer in question managed to add a few pennies to their bank account.
In our modern world, where we can access information within a few seconds, any form of scandal takes hold and spreads like wildfire. The more we refresh refresh refresh, the more we feed into the media monster.

Nothing says we can’t speak our mind; this is the point of social media. Yet the endless hammering, and flooding of the senses into overload, gets old fast.
Twerking isn’t a new idea to the masses of youth. In fact Twerking has been within the lexicon for at least two decades. Although actually viewing a performance of a former Disney star, was more than most had expected, we shouldn’t be shocked by the controversy.
We’ve been here before.
October 1956, Elvis Presley made an appearance on the The Ed Sullivan show, that prompted the Catholic Church to warn their parishioners of his vulgarity and he should be avoided.
Teens in fifties and teens in our modern 2013, are the same. Tell them not to do something, the odds are in their favor, they are going to do it.
We forget as we grow older and even grow thinking we have grown wiser, we were once young. What we found to be distasteful was a much different view than our parents. As in my case, my mother was a youth in 1956, and she fawned over the Elvis performance. To this day, into her seventies, she is still a fan.
Other artists who have made it to the controversy table, Bea Arthur in an episode of “Maude”, Ellen DeGeneres coming out on her sitcom “Ellen”, Madonna and her infamous kiss also on the VMA’s, to name a few. People may view those incidents as minor today.

Is this due to our age and all the wisdom we’ve gained as we grow old? Have our moral standards really skewed?
There is something that happens to us as we mature and become parents. We take on the responsibility for these little human beings and what they should or shouldn’t be exposed to as a youngster.

Within this responsibility we should remember we were young at one time.
The disgruntled viewers have made some valid points. The VMA’s target audience is a rather large age gap, 12-34 year olds. Given that, then those responsible at a major network, should be accountable for what they present to that target audience.

We, as parents, of the younger half of this demographic, should also be accountable and change the channel when a performance is unacceptable. Instead of “blowing up” the news feeds, take that anger and use it productively. Voice your opinions to the network. The amount of sharing and posting that transpired during the performance only did one thing. Increase the bank accounts of the artist and the network.

MTV’s Aug 25th show had the largest audience in the network’s history. The artist album not set to be released until Oct.8th and the presale numbers place it at number five on iTunes. As well as a fifty percent increase the week following the performance.
Elvis even benefited from his critics, and his “lack of musicality”, which is believed to have launched his career to stardom. Even to this day, thirty six years after his death, Elvis remains that star.

This is business. Madonna has done it, Marilyn Manson and countless others. Who is the fool here?
Sadly, this is where our modern society sits today. Not too much different than the days of Elvis. Within all the controversy, a great American passed away and his passing did not garner as much attention as he rightly deserved.

While we were refreshing our news feeds, seeking another video or meme about Twerking, we missed the passing of Neil Armstrong. This should’ve been shared with a “THIS>>>” more than twerking.

Twerking isn’t new, and it is now indelibly etched into our brains where nightmares rest.
It will pass.
We, as consumers in this world, need to just…
Turn it off.

Written By: Jodi L Ouellette

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