The latest missive from Bill Donohue:
MILEY V. MUSLIMSHere's the illustration that accompanies this:
... Last Sunday, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Miley Cyrus simulated masturbation with a giant foam finger, grabbed her crotch, rubbed herself against a man old enough to be her father, pretended the man was performing anal sex on her, and walked around in a nude latex bikini. Her mother loved it. So did her manager. Millions of young girls and guys loved it as well.
Next month, the Miss World pageant will be held in Indonesia. Some Muslims are urging the government to cancel the event. According to the leader, Riziek Shihab, "The Miss World pageant is only an excuse to exhibit women's body parts."
Who are the real feminists? Miley's fans? Or the Muslims? If debasing women is the yardstick, the Muslims win.
I guess Bill is telling us that if he had to make a choice, he'd side with the society that dresses women the way the woman on the right is dressed, rather than with our society.
Donohue goes on to write:
In this regard, the Catholic position is instructive.Right -- because there was no sexual exploitation of women pre-Elvis. There was no rape, no molestation of the underage. All that was invented by rockers and R&B musicians. Oh, and Madalyn Murray O'Hair.
Pope Paul VI's 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae, was a clarion call to men and women: today's culture allows men to sexually exploit women, cheapening relations between them. Pope John Paul II spoke eloquently about the commodification of sexuality, offering us a "Theology of the Body."
(And I guess there was no non-sexual exploitation of women prior to "today's culture." You may think the Irish slave-labor camps known as the Magdalene Laundries brutally exploited young girls at least as far back as 1922, and the Irish government may agree -- in June it agreed to pay up to 58 million euros in compensation to survivors of the Laundries -- but Donohue has said that the horror stories are "all a lie.")
Look, the Miley Cyrus performance at the VMAs wasn't to my taste, but she's gotten a bad rap for doing something that would have generated a hundred gushing Cultural Studies papers if it had been done by Madonna or Lady Gaga. I've read that Cyrus is guilty of racist "cultural appropriation" -- what, you mean like every white popular musician since Bill Haley and the Comets? Like Madonna making goo-goo eyes at a black Jesus in the "Like a Prayer" video, or vogueing a few years later as if vogueing were something she was teaching black gay men to do, rather than the other way around? I've read that Cyrus was way too young to get all sexy with that Robin Thicke guy (she's 20 years old, and two of the models who are actually topless in his "Blurred Lines" video are 21 and 23). Oh, and doesn't stealing the entire rhythm track for that song from Marvin Gaye qualify as a wee bit of "cultural appropriation" on Thicke's part?
I think cultural commentators aren't cutting Cyrus any slack because she doesn't seem to give a crap about winning their respect, the way Madonna and Gaga and Justin Timberlake do. She's not serious. (Jesus, that endless Timberlake medley was so joylessly precise it was almost Prussian. But most ultra-choreographed Big Pop has looked that way to me in the post-Michael Jackson era.) She's a spoiled brat and she's having fun. All that sex stuff wasn't a critique of the cis-hegemonic gender performativity or whatever-the-hell -- it was a big, stupid joke that didn't really work. Fine. If this were politics, we'd say it clearly wasn't focus-grouped. There are worse things.
(Also see Tamara Shayne Kagel, who makes the point that Cyrus seemed to be in charge of the sexy bits while performing her own song and Thicke's, while the topless women in Thicke's video are just meant to be eye candy. To get back to a word Bill Donohue used, which comes closer to "exploitation"?)