Some may call Miley Cyrus' half-naked, gyrating performance at the MTV Video Music Awards Sunday "disgusting" or "raunchy," but the 20-year-old has another name for the VMA show she put on: twerking.
"You can't really explain [twerking]," Cyrus told E! Online earlier this year of her new signature dance move.
"It's something that comes naturally… It's a lot of booty action. I can't believe how many people think I'm good at twerking — which is dope — like my life goal has been accomplished."
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Twerking is a type of hip-hop dance where someone gyrates backwards up against someone else with their behind juggling. In Cyrus' case, that other person was "Blurred Lines" singer Robin Thicke, a 36-year-old married man and father, which grossed out legions of Twitter users.
Not only did Cyrus' performance of her hit "We Can't Stop" provide the night's ultimate ick factor, it bothered some academics who thought her use of "curvy" African-American backup dancers exploited black stereotypes.
"At the core of capitalism from the days of minstrel shows until now has been about selling black bodies," James Peterson, director of Africana Studies at Lehigh University, told Philly.com.
"The black woman's body is unfortunately the subject of those forces."
"It's just a clumsy white appropriation of black culture," said Salamishah Tillet, associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. "That is just part of the larger trend we were seeing in music and pop culture that night."
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