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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I came across this description of social-media attitudes on MetaFilter recently, and I thought it was high!larious!

“OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ENJOY THINGS THAT I DO NOT ENJOY.”

That line sums up a vast number of conversations on Twitter. I’m always amazed that people have the time and energy to aggressively tell strangers the equivalent of: “That shit that makes you really happy? I don’t like it. STOP BEING HAPPY!” My personal feeling is that as long as you’re not committing real-life murder and mayhem, why do I care what your interests are? Watch your movies, listen to your music, read your books, play your video games, wear your bandage dressesIDGAF! Maybe you’ll enjoy yourself so much that you won’t need to be in my business, telling me that my pleasures aren’t okay with you. I promise you that kind of conversation is not going to change my enjoyment of anything except your company.

I don’t mind the opposite situation: If you want to try to convince me I should like something that I don’t, I’ll lend an ear to that. I figure it’s good to be open to finding the positive in unexpected places. Feel free to tell me about pop culture that I might want to check out. But when it comes to denigrating my interests, I have to misquote Jack Nicholson in As Good as It Gets: “Sell negativity someplace else, we’re all stocked up here.”

Oddly, one kind of criticism that doesn’t bother me as much as people seem to hope it will is anything directed at my jewelry designs from an aesthetic perspective. I’ve had people tell me they don’t like skulls, snakes or my style overall. When they say it to me in person, they look at me with great anticipation, awaiting my reaction. I feel like they’re disappointed when I laugh and say, “Fine, go to Zales for your jewelry. Or go to Jared or Walmart or Tiffany or Cartier!” There’s so much jewelry in the world! There’s something for every customer, and the majority of it isn’t sold by me. I can’t be upset by that. I also can’t be upset by people saying my work is ugly when I’m looking back at them thinking that their jewelry is hideous! The only difference is that I will keep my opinion to myself. That goes back to what I was saying up above. If I don’t have something nice to say, I say nothing, because if they’re happy with their awful jewelry (or fashion or hair or makeup or whatever), I’m happy for them! I don’t think it’s my role in life to offer “constructive criticism” to everyone I see.

MomentoMor_SkullBones_Zoom__55241_std

Available on my website. Click to purchase!

I always wish retailers that reject my line would be as blunt as the folks trying to get a rise out of me. It would be okay if they told me, “We just don’t like it.” That’s so much better than saying something untrue, like that my work is “too mainstream.” My jewelry isn’t mainstream — #factsonly, as Jay Z would say — and saying otherwise makes me feel like bitches are gaslighting me. But, as a writer friend recently pointed out to me, people in business who are afraid to form their own opinions or to verbalize the ones they have will instead offer specious reasons to justify their decisions. I’ve got to live with it.

All of this reminds me that, during Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, I enjoyed something that practically no one else — one exception being Michael Musto — enjoyed.

musto

Oh Em Gee! I can’t believe people are sooooo upset about Miley Cyrus‘s tongue, skin-toned latex undies and suggestive dancing!

miley

Miley gets down to business with Robin Thicke.

Folks have complained that she was out of line because the VMAs are a “family show”! DAFUQ? The VMAs are for getting crazy, acting out and offending the squares — especially all the concerned mommies and daddies! What’s up with this collective amnesia where everyone forgets the outrages of previous years? Madonna’s 1984′s “Like a Virgin” performance — now considered classic — had everyone predicting the corruption of young girls, the end of the world and who knows what else. There was the same response to Britney Spears’s skin-toned, belly-baring, thong-flaunting outfit in 2000. I attended that show and let me tell you, the entire audience gasped when she ripped off a suit to expose this:

miley-cyrus-britney-spears-vma-nude

Was I stunned? Yes. Was I initially horrified? Yeah. Did I wind up loving it? Yeah! Am I glad I saw it with my own eyes? Hell, yeah! Every generation needs its over-the-top naughty girl, courting attention and controversy at every opportunity, and Miley is playing that role now. We need silly scandalous behavior to take our minds off the unbearably serious stuff in life once in a while (anyone following the news about Syria?), so go on with your bad self, Miley! Also the people who complained that she was rubbing all over Robin Thicke? Who cares? That boy can take it. He’s rubbed all over nearly-naked girls, and turnabout is fair play. The guy who said, “We tried to do everything that was taboo” can put up with some close contact with a gal who was actually more covered up than the models in the uncensored version of his video. The only thing he has to be upset about is that she totally dominated him on stage. You win some, you lose some, Robin Thicke!

Hate Miley all you want, call her ignorant and inauthentic. I’m not going to fight you; I’m just going to keep being entertained by her antics. And ten years on, when everyone’s upset by the next girl who gyrates  in her underwear, I’ll be here to say, “Remember when we were that bothered by Miley and then our lives went on like usual?”

UPDATED TO ADD: Since the VMAs, people have been sending around a photo of Will Smith’s family supposedly reacting in horror to Miley Cyrus. I noticed early on that the audience still was from Lady Gaga’s set instead, but reality never stopped anyone from sharing a better story. What’s really interesting in this Huffington Post item on the Smiths is the animated GIF, which tells a much different story than the still photo. Check it out!

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33 Responses to “The Unofficial Twitter Policy. And Miley Cyrus.”

  1. mary panjari says:

    I just find her boring and uninteresting. I don’t get it??? Also what the fuck was with the tongue? Ugly and ridiculous. Next!

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      You and I have very different taste in music/entertainment with a few points of overlap. I know this because you like to point it out. It’s all good :-)

  2. Nicola
    Twitter: DrNSearle
    says:

    I’m struggling with the Miley thing. On the one hand, I enjoyed the unabashed attempt to cause controversy. On the other hand, I can see the point (http://jezebel.com/on-miley-cy.....-514381016) that there are a lot of underlying race issues.

    On the other hand, I don’t buy into the appropriating culture debate. You can’t own culture!

    Still struggling.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      “I enjoyed the unabashed attempt to cause controversy.” Oh yeah. How can you not love that? I mean, to me, that’s what it’s all about and there’s always someone who is going to do that. I feel like people watch these shows praying for something wild to happen and then when it does they’re all upset. If nothing wild happened, they’d say it was boring!

      And, as you say, you can’t own culture. It’s not realistic to wish that a form of music, dance, dress, whatever would stay in its box, only available to the approved audience. It never works. It never has!! I do appreciate the discussion of the issue, though, because it educates people and education is always a positive.

  3. annemarie says:

    I hated the performance, but not because I thought it was risky or controversial. On the contrary, I thought it was really unimaginative. It was like being forced to watch a bratty, narcissistic kid impersonate Madonna twenty years after the fact. She did dominate the stage, but not in a good way: Robin Thicke has talent, whereas Miley just has a massive appetite for attention and you know she will do anything do keep your eyes on her, hence you keep your eyes on her.

    But apart from the brat, I really dont know how such a sexual performance can be so unsexy. And I do actually think that’s quite sad for the young folk who are just learning about sex and perhaps thinking about having it for the first time. They have internet porn and they have Miley Cyrus pretending to get fucked in the ass with her tongue hanging out. People might just give up on having sex altogether and the human race may die out!

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      I think I read this nearly word for word before — 20 years ago when Madonna did “Human Nature.” :-)

      The way people talk about Madonna’s old performances now, you’d think they weren’t calling her an unsexy attention whore back in the day!

      I love seeing the evolution.

      • annemarie says:

        alright….BUT! Madonna wasn’t impersonating Madonna twenty years ago. So I believe my main point stands. (BTW– I LOVE MY NEW STUDS! I’m so glad the fingers more separation)

      • WendyB
        Twitter: WendyBrandes
        says:

        Ooh, glad they got there safely. I liked the pair you put together. I might do a fist in gold to wear with my gold middle finger stud.

  4. Bethany Grant says:

    Your style rocks – its edgy & out there & unique & pushes the status quo. People love to challenge powerful women. More people should learn from you & practice the art of ignoring others opinions. Style is nothing if its not your own – Be real & true to yourself. BTW love that movie quote!

    You are so on target about Miley, Madonna, etc. She’s trashy but it’s fun. So don’t let your kids watch it if you don’t want them to see it. Be a parent instead of blaming the industry. they all just want to blah, blah, blah & need to get over it.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      I am always thinking of that As Good As It Gets quote in its original form. It’s like all these people are offering me craziness as if I weren’t already up to here in it!

  5. Alice Olive says:

    I found Mr. Paula Patton’s outfit the most disturbing thing about that performance. Those candy stripes made him seem short and stout. Not flattering!

    I must be getting old. I watched Miley (who I only started observing after she cut her hair – fabulous) and thought, aw, she’s so young and cute.

    And, what’s wrong with a little sex on Sunday night?

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      “Mr. Paula Patton” just made my day.

      I only got interested in Miley after the haircut too, and I’ve loved every variation on it!

  6. madeleine gallay says:

    Delicious post, oh yes. Timid buyers that can’t be straight … yuck.

    And Miley? It’s rock n roll, she is rocking and I adored it.

    It’s not a catwalk, it’s just pure rock n roll. Madonna made and makes a few eyes roll. Cher, brilliant beautiful outrageous, oh yes … no one can stand up to her pizazz.

    Red carpets are almost as boring as the four and five digit price tags on designer merchandise, that loss of any intrinsic value is really trashy.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      Oh, God, yes! How could I forget how many times I’ve lived through the outrage over Cher’s outfits! The world was going to stop revolving because of what Cher wore!

      And of course every damn outfit is iconic.

  7. I’m glad I missed the whole Miley Cyrus thing – we were in the middle of the countryside without any wifi. Agree with you, I just don’t understand the mentality of internet trolls. If you don’t like something: click away or shut up.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      I don’t mind people complaining about what they don’t like except we’ve been there, done this before — it’s fucking old! Yes, there’s always going to be some pop star ruining the youth! Elvis, the Beatles, Madonna, Britney, Miley — in hindsight all the brouhaha looks idiotic.

  8. Whitney says:

    I really hated the performance just because I thought it was really awful. If she wants to dance around in nude spandex and do a good job, I’m ALL for that. Like I said in my post, I actually really like this song. All this ‘cultural appropriation’ mess has GOT TO STOP too. First of all let’s not act like Miley is the first or last artist to be inspired by music that is generally considered ‘African American’. Secondly, my sister sings operas written by dead white men on a regular basis. Is this cultural appropriation or is she simply a talented singer who likes and is inspired by that genre? If Miley wants to twerk, ok girl twerk, just do a good job of it while you’re on stage. That’s all I’m asking.

  9. HelOnWheels
    Twitter: HelOnWheels
    says:

    I knew nothing about the Miley performance until the next day (I’ve cut the cable cord) and, honestly, don’t know why everybody’s “OMG BUT THE CHILDRENS!!” Be a parent; monitor your children’s entertainment choices instead of blaming the media. I am glad my parents were extremely lax in their usual TV monitoring duties the night I saw Madonna do “Like a Virgin” on the VMAs in 1984. It was shocking to me as a kid. But almost 30 years later I remember every second of her performance. Just as I’m sure the youngins of today will do with Miley’s performance. Plus, I admire Miley for trying to show the world that she’s no longer Hannah Montana. That’s a difficult image to break.

    Also, people who feel the need to express their dislike of your designs TO you need to STFU: don’t like it, don’t buy it (everybody has a voice, not everyone should have a microphone). You have an army of customers who love and proudly wear what you create for us.

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      This made me LOL: “OMG BUT THE CHILDRENS!!”

      My parents were pretty damn strict and that’s why I was on the straight and narrow. I didn’t run around with boys or drink or do drugs, and I was in trouble if I got less than a B+ on my report card. I did get my MTV and music, though, and it didn’t harm me one bit. The only lasting result is that, to this day, I still love anything shocking. If people parent their children in other ways, they don’t have to worry so much about the music. Besides, every generation has to rebel and music and fashion is a big part of that. Let’s face it — there’s never going to be a day where parents are like “OMG, I TOTALLY approve of your teenage music and outfits. I am not bothered at all!” Even the waltz was scandalous once. If dancing and dressing is the only way your kids rebel, you’re pretty fucking lucky, as I still like to remind my mother 30 years later. (Oh, and she DID get really upset about my hair back then.)

      Thanks for the jewelry love, that means a lot! I love my customers. Cracks me up how other people think that it’s so important to me that they approve of my work. You can’t please everyone and I’m not trying to appeal to the masses. I can’t compete with Walmart’s jewelry selection even if I wanted to, so why would I attempt it! I’m happy with my much smaller, like-minded audience.

      • Jet aka Punk Glam Queen
        Twitter: PunkGlamQueen
        says:

        Haha had to laugh — yes the day has come! I’m the parent that totally approves of my teenagers choices in music & clothes! I even egg her on! But that’s the old rock n’ roll rebel in me, she is very much like me in that respect (like her dad in many other respects, so a good balance). I’ve only once or twice had to have her change because she has such long legs she doesn’t realise how short something is on her & shouldn’t be worn as a dress anymore, but that’s about it! I’m not the only one either, many of my friends with kids are the same way — we’ve seen it, done it all, so it doesn’t bother us. XXX

      • WendyB
        Twitter: WendyBrandes
        says:

        There’s an exception to every rule and you’re it! But as you point out that’s because you’re still a rebel yourself! You and your friends are awesome, fun and not uptight so I wouldn’t expect anything less!

        But the average parent is so….average.

      • Jet aka Punk Glam Queen
        Twitter: PunkGlamQueen
        says:

        While I agree the average parent is quite “average”, you’d be surprised at the ones you wouldn’t think would allow their kids to listen to certain music or say dye their hair,or wear certain clothes. There might be a shift going on, perhaps its because so much has become “mainstream” (BLAH NO!!) but some of G’s friends parents I would never guess would allow their kid to do half of what they’re allowed. Its still not the norm, we’re still the Addam’s family around here, but I see things changing in small ways. XXX

      • WendyB
        Twitter: WendyBrandes
        says:

        I like the Addam’s family-type families the best :-D

  10. GingerR says:

    Good job of setting this into context.
    Of course I remember bad-girl Madonna and Britney.

    Pointing out that nude costumes and nasty dancing are a tradition of this event makes you wonder how anybody could be shocked.

  11. Louise says:

    Sigh. It’s JUST sex, folks. It’s been around forever. Imagine if we were so hung up on another common human action, like eating? “OMG, she pretended to masticate ON STAGE with him, wearing push-up teeth and grinding her molars! Won’t someone think of the children!?”

    Those Disney girls sure do grow up to be adults with adult tastes, don’t they?

  12. Megan Mae says:

    I feel the same way about Miley as I do about most of what’s popular – I don’t like, I don’t watch it. But I sure as hell will laugh at the outraged “public” as they send their hysterics into viral media.

    And while I think the biege latex look was gross – it’s more that I can’t stop picturing her being covered in silly putty than anything else.

  13. Jet aka Punk Glam Queen
    Twitter: PunkGlamQueen
    says:

    I didn’t get to see any of it as I was sick in bed by 7, but hello? Its rock n’ roll! Elvis only being shown from the waist up, Bowie simulating fellatio on Mick Ronson’s guitar, plus all the other examples you gave of shocking the public. If people are so concerned, then monitor & talk to your kids. We don’t censor Gwensday, never did & she knows right from wrong & what’s appropriate for her at her age. We talk to her all the time about a song, or a certain band, whatever. Perhaps she’s a unique example having grown up around musicians, but I just don’t think kids are as stupid as parents think they are; most know its all for show & what “real life” is like. Give your kid some credit, talk to them. To quote Keith Richards “Rock n’ Roll: music for the neck downwards”, its so all about ooo that dirty word SEX as well as shock value! XXX

    • WendyB
      Twitter: WendyBrandes
      says:

      You need to write a parenting book!

      • Jet aka Punk Glam Queen
        Twitter: PunkGlamQueen
        says:

        ACK no! Could you imagine the furor I’d cause? A rock n’ roll rebel who never censored her kids reading or music, always allowed creative freedom in how she looked — the world isn’t ready for that! Not to mention, we’re not perfect parents, we make our share of mistakes like every other parent. I just think parents get so caught up in what “influences” their children that they don’t actually talk to them about it & try to exert positive influence on them instead. XXX PS but thanks, that was sweet! Now lets raise some hell & play some r n’ r LOUD! (: