a dream in which
"one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls
will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers".
So it seems deliciously apt in terms of reflecting how race relations have progressed in the US since Dr King's era that, just a whisker short of the anniversary of his speech,
the world bore witness to one of the more intriguing examples of cultural appropriation.
Cultural appropriation, just so we're clear, refers to picking and choosing elements of one culture by a member of another culture.
It is specifically not okay, when the person picking and choosing is rich and white.
And minstrelsy, the word used by Jody Rosen, evokes the black face minstrel shows of the Mark Twain era.
In the modern sense, it refers to adorning oneself with elements of black culture, in an attempt to achieve a particular image.
Sadly, King omitted to say whether he also dreamed of "little white girls from Tennessee mimicking anilingus on little black girls wearing giant animals on their backs",
so it's impossible to know how he would have reacted to Miley Cyrus' performance at the VMAs on Sunday.
Siv says the above link is down -- if you haven't been punished with the exhibition, there is a YouTube Vid below should you care to see.
To sum it up quickly, 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,
Now, I have seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans repeatedly with black and white revelers having a wild time.
The carnival is one of the closest adherents to King's dream that I have encountered in my four decades living in four different cities,
with its happy celebration of African-Caribbean traditions, which most of the white attendees excitedly cheer along.
The song Cyrus sang, We Can't Stop, was written by Timothy and Theron Thomas
and given to Cyrus when she told them, presumably without a wince: "I want something that feels black."
Instead of giving her something by, I don't know, John Coltrane,
the Thomas brothers gave her a song originally written for Rihanna which, to be fair, was almost certainly the image of blackness Cyrus had in mind as I don't think Coltrane did much twerking.
Plenty of male singers grab their crotches while performing, but it seems to be only female singers these days who feel the need to strip down to their underwear and simulate sex acts on stage.
As nice as it would be to imagine a world in which young women weren't taught to equate hypersexuality with maturity and independence, that remains as unrealised a dream as much of King's speech.
The real scandal was how atrocious Cyrus’ performance was in artistic terms.
She was clumsy, flat-footed and cringingly unsexy, an effect heightened by her manic grin.
She is a little girl desperate to show the world her scrawny, almost boyish body is a woman's. Sadly, she is a little girl emotionally without any real idea of how a real woman projects her sexuality.
The Cyrus fiasco, however, is symptomatic of the still heavy influence of Madonna,
who sprang to world fame in the 1980s with sophisticated videos that were suffused with a daring European art-film eroticism and that were arguably among the best artworks of the decade.
Madonna’s provocations were smolderingly sexy because she had a good Catholic girl’s keen sense of transgression. Subversion requires limits to violate.
Madonna, a trained modern dancer, was originally inspired by work of tremendous quality —
above all, Marlene Dietrich’s glamorous movie roles as a bisexual blond dominatrix
and Bob Fosse’s stunningly forceful strip-club choreography for the 1972 film Cabaret,
set in decadent Weimar-era Berlin.
Today’s aspiring singers, teethed on frenetically edited small-screen videos, rarely have direct contact with those superb precursors and are simply aping feeble imitations of Madonna at 10th remove.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MILEY'S PERFORMANCE?
DO YOU AGREE WITH JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE SAYING,
"IT'S NOT LIKE SHE DID IT
AT THE GRAMMY's."
AT THE GRAMMY's."
DO YOU THINK LIAM HELMSWORTH IS DRINKING IN THE CORNER OF SOME BAR, TWEETING HIS EX-FRIENDS?