Does it matter if Amy Poehler doesn’t wear makeup?

Have you ever watched videos on Amy Poehler’s vlog channel “Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls”?

If you haven’t, block out some time after school or work, and hunker down with your laptop because you’re in for a treat.

There are a bunch of sub-series on the channel, like “Smart Girls at the Party” where she and other co-hosting women interview really cool girls who do amazing things like being a firefighter or blowing glass or volunteering at an animal shelter. There’s also “Operation Nice” where watchers come up with good deeds to do in their neighborhoods, and “Boys Minute” and “Girls of the World” and even “Meow Meow Music”.

But my favorite sub-series is — by far — “Ask Amy”.

Not only because I think Amy Poehler is great and I love basically getting virtual 1-on-1 time with her.

And also, it’s not just because of the fascinating topics she covers, like inspirations of female empowerment, Anxiety, Bodies, and (most recently) Title IX.

Yes, it’s wonderful that someone with her level of popularity and popular culture leverage is doing something to bring discussions like that into the mainstream, and that she’s so personable.

But you know what I find most revelatory and intimate about those videos?

It’s that she doesn’t always wear makeup.

I don’t mean that absolutely — sometimes it does seem like she’s wearing makeup; whatever. And sometimes she’s got her hair in a ponytail and sometimes it looks very purposefully styled, other times not.

The exact level of “done up” she is exhibiting from one video to the next is not the point here.

It’s just the overall impression.

Sometimes Amy Poehler looks tired in the videos. Sometimes she’s wearing sweatpants, and other times adorable dresses. They’re filmed quickly, closely, comfortably with her computer’s camera or maybe her cell phone. She makes sure her face is visible, and sometimes she’s by a window that’s very flattering, but there’s no fancy lighting setups. She doesn’t always sit or stand with perfect, tummy-sucking-in posture.

This makes you feel like you’re just skyping with a friend who knows that you care more about what she has to say than about how she looks.

A friend who has let their guard down because they’re not worried about you evaluating how they look, even if they spent the whole day in delicately arranged makeup and high heels.

And Amy Poehler definitely spends a lot of her days looking carefully (and attractively) put-together with hair, makeup, and wardrobe. Just take a look at any Parks & Rec episode.

I’m sure it’d be easy for her to record all of these videos while she’s still in full hair and makeup for the day. With little to no effort, she could take the safe, traditional route of making sure she looks “pretty” before exposing her face and her body to the public eye.

For women, the default asked by society when you’re in public is an effortfully-created “pretty” — truly natural appearance is not average, but rather sub-par.

For female celebrities, it’s an even more strongly enforced standard — just google “female celebrities without makeup” and see how much pops up.

(No equivalent for male celebrities that I know of).

We’ve all noticed this, right?

I’m not even a big make-up person myself, but if I’m going out for more than a grocery run — or heaven forbid there are going to be pictures taken — I definitely feel like I ought to “at least” put on some mascara and make sure my hair is smooth just to “clean up” a bit.

(Clean up from a clean face??? What? This sounds ridiculous to me when I think about it).

But even I — not someone in the public eye, not someone who’s super into makeup and hairstyles these days — feel the pressure to sculpt myself up to a “bare minimum of put-togetherness” if I’m going to expose my appearance to other people.

And yet somehow Amy Poehler manages to confidently, without comment or fanfare, not really give a f***.

I never even catch her looking at the miniature version of herself on the screen instead of looking into the camera — something everyone I Skype or FaceTime with does constantly (including myself to a shocking extent, and including men I know, too!)

You could easily say that it’s not a statement, she doesn’t skip makeup on purpose, and it doesn’t mean anything… yadda yadda yadda.

But I don’t really believe that.

I think Amy Poehler knows how important it is to be open with how she looks at all different times of day and after all different types of days and purposefully choose to show that it is not a problem to look less “put-together”.

And another thing.

During this whole post, I’ve shied away from saying that she ever doesn’t look “attractive” or “pretty.” This is ostensibly to avoid suggesting that not wearing makeup or doing your hair or having flattering posture makes you less attractive. Because I shouldn’t ever say that a woman isn’t attractive — that’d be body snarking, right?

But the flip side of that is that I realized I am wholly giving in to the belief that calling a woman “unattractive” would be one of the worst things I could say about her. Say what she said was dumb, say she isn’t funny, whatever, but never say that she isn’t pretty unless I really want to insult her!

Am I serious?

So yeah, Amy Poehler does not look especially attractive all the time in those videos.

And that matters.

Because even if she doesn’t look attractive, that doesn’t matter at all because what she’s saying, how she’s saying it, and why she’s saying it means so much more than what her appearance happens to be for those 2 minutes.

So, the next time I hesitate before I accept someone tagging me in a less-than-flattering photo on Facebook, or I put on jeans because I’m too nervous to wear shorts after not shaving for 2 weeks, I hope I can think of “Ask Amy” and:

Just.

Not.

Give a damn.

And maybe some other woman or girl will see me and not give a damn the next time she’s worried about how she looks… and on and on until people are only getting dolled up because they want to, not because they’re afraid of being shamed if they aren’t.

Friday (Late Night Double) Feature: Kids!

If you’re a loyal reader of our Friday Features, I hope you’ll excuse the lateness and brevity of this week’s – sometimes you over-commit your Friday and life’s great passions get pushed, briefly, to the back burner.

Since this is our last Halloween-special Friday feature before the day itself, I wanted to focus on the kid-friendly side of Halloween. It’s a well known American tradition to carve open innocent squashes before we go around a dress up in costumes and beg for candy from strangers (ordinarily not a good life-retention strategy). What may not be as well known is that these practices are extraordinarily silly.

So it’s in honor of Halloween’s outright silliness that I feature two really fun Halloween-y things that are appropriate for all ages.

First and foremost, this movie:

ParaNorman is a movie I really can’t recommend enough. It’s a stylized animated feature about a kid who can see dead people. It’s definitely fun, kid-friendly, and has a good heart, but it doesn’t pull any punches with the intensity of the story. Everybody can find something to love about this film!

I have to confess something about my next recommendation in this last (Late Night Double) Feature – I haven’t actually read it.

Whoops!

But oh well, I’ve hear some really solid recommendations for it, flipped through it in my local comic book store, and I did learn that the artist is from nearby! Buy local, am I right?

In any case The Halloween Legion: The Great Goblin Invasion is a kid-friendly comic (which are rare enough these days, more on that in another post) about a team of heroic Halloween-costume-stereotypes (a ghost, a witch, a skeleton, and a devil) that pop up to save the day.

Since I haven’t read it, I can’t really divulge any more details about the story, but I’m given to understand there are goblins involved.

All kidding aside, I hope you pop over to your local comic book store and check it out! I hope I’m able to soon.

Grand Theft Art – GTA and American Culture

$800 Million in a single day…

$1 Billion in three days…

Think about that for a bit.

Whether you care to admit or not, Grand Theft Auto V is a cultural event. A zeitgeist that transcends the medium it resides in and reaches out to the culture as a whole. By its nature, it is a lightning rod for controversy, and it willingly takes the target that gets painted on its back.

It is a game about crime, its consequences, and the morally reprehensible men that succeed and suffer from it. The player steals cars, robs banks, visits the strip club, tortures, assassinates, and so much more in the name of finally getting that “big score.” It is dark, twisted, and completely unabashed about all of it.

In other words, it’s a fantastic work of art.

Grand Theft Auto V is a technical achievement on many different levels, and for that it should be lauded, but the real accomplishment is what it does for gaming as a medium. It elevates the conversation beyond mechanics and gameplay; to ideas, to public reaction, and to proper criticism.

The game is a critique of the American present. A breakdown of a post 9/11, occupy Wall Street, economically collapsed world; where everyone is entitled and even the government is seen in shades of grey. It is where your teenage son plays “Righteous Kill” on his video game system all day, with “Entitled” tattooed around his neck. It is a place where the paparazzi beg for your help to make the next big celebrity sex tape. It shows the player a beautiful Los Angeles skyline, riddled with empty homes from a housing crisis that took the city. It is a rage fueled satire of America that hits the mark far more often than it misses.

Yet, for all of its achievements, for all of its technical prowess; all that the majority of America hears about Grand Theft Auto V is this…

If it doesn’t load properly, skip ahead to 2.03

News stories like this flourish in the echo chamber that is the public media. Anytime a video game console is found in the home of an assailant it is instantly correlated to the act of violence perpetrated. The video game is instantly seen as the cause, or at least an enabler of some sort.

Yet, is this fair? Should we be throwing this at the feet of Grand Theft Auto and other pieces of this fledgeling art form? More appropriately, should we be passing blame on these creative endeavors or should we be looking more closely at ourselves?

Steven Ogg plays the voice of Trevor, the most sociopathic character in GTAV. He said it like this…

“The hypocrisy drives me crazy, it just sets the wrong focus. Why not talk about gun control? Why not talk about parenting? Why not talk of lack of family values? There are so many other things to talk about. Look at what’s on TV. Breaking Bad had that episode where ******** got his face blown off. There’s a lot of intense stuff out there. Video games are just an easy scapegoat.”

In America, we have a hobby of not accepting blame for our own actions. For us, it is always someone else’s fault. It is not the fact that the parents had no interest in their teen’s life and didn’t know what he was spending his time doing. It was not the issue that someone who had a mental dysfunction had easy access to firearms. No, it was because they played video games.

The silver lining in all of this is that this is not unique to this modern art form. All recent forms of entertainment have gone through such superfluous scrutiny and come out on the other side successful. Yet, for each it took time and, in some cases, generations to pass before popular consensus changed.

Warren Spector is one of the most influential and prolific game makers of our generation. His work includes names like Wing CommanderThiefSystem ShockEpic Mickey, and most famously Deus Ex. His influence can be felt even in modern games. In an article he wrote for GamesIndustry.biz, he summed up this generational issue concisely.

“More recently, many of you reading this will remember a time when comic books, pinball, television and that evil known as “rock n roll” music spelled the end of western civilization as we knew it.

For some time now it’s been gaming’s turn in the cultural crosshairs. We’re the ones blamed for all the things earlier media supposedly caused. Sigh.

On the one hand, we could all just sit back and wait for the hysteria to pass – I mean, once everyone became a film fan, a TV viewer, a rock music listener, a reader, it became awfully hard to say with a straight face – “That thing we all do… um… er… well… it turns people into monsters!… Not me, of course, or you… or those 200 million consumers who are just fine… But THEM… THEY… THEY’RE monsters and it’s all Mario Kart’s fault!”

As it should, this brings me back to Grand Theft Auto. GTAV is not to blame for the societal ills that plague us, and nor should it be blamed. It, and many other games like it, do not turn perfectly normal people into murder machines bent on getting a “high score.” Humanity was fully capable of committing terrible acts long before video game existed, and we still are just as capable today regardless of the existence of video games.

Shakespeare wrote about suicide, murder, treachery, sex, and was celebrated for it during his lifetime. His work was never blamed for the suicide, murder, etc. that happened around him. Now, I would never compare Grand Theft Auto to Hamlet. Mainly because, GTA still has a tendency to lean towards misogyny, homophobia, and crude humor, but the argument still stands.

It is easy to cast stones at a game where you can senselessly run down hundreds of pedestrians. It’s easy to cast blame for society’s violence on a piece of art where simulacrums of that violence can be experienced. It is much much harder to examine one’s self in the mirror and ask the tough questions.

So before the “evils” of video games are decried again, keep in mind that at some point many of the hobbies that you enjoy today were considered to be rotting society years ago. So if you’ll excuse me, I have a game waiting for me to play.

Rotting away society’s core has never been so much fun…

NSFW: Language

Read All of Warren Spector’s Article HERE

Read More of GTA’s Actor’s Thoughts on the Game HERE

Friday (Late Night Double) Feature – Monsters!!!

Monsters….

There are many types…Some that are monstrous on the outside, and others that are more so on the inside. They are all horrifying, scary, and gut wrenching. Each in their own way has a means of reaching into our souls, into our darkest fears and fantasies, and making us keep the lights on.

Sadly, many of our classic creatures of horror have lost their edge. They’ve been repurposed, repackaged, and have lost the edge that made them the reason that we stayed up all night. Vampires have become sexy, Frankenstein’s monster is used more for laughs, and Werewolves….yeah. They’re sexy too.

That is sooo not Michael J. Fox

So, for today’s feature I give you all two modern monster flicks that will remind you why we call them MONSTERS.

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Pan’s Labyrinth

Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way. Yes, this movie is in Spanish and has subtitles. If that’s your reason for not having seen this, either myself or another Promethean from the site will find you and punch you in the face.

Guillermo Del Toro, known for Hellboy and most recently Pacific Rim, wrote and directed this film; which had been a passion project of his for a while. Del Toro has always had a distinct visual flare that comes through in his creations. So, even in the most mundane of stories, he has a way of bringing out a more macabre edge.

This is fantastic flick set during the Spanish Civil War. A young girl and her mother move in with one of Franco’s generals in the hills, and the movie follows the daughter as she sees the horrors of the real world juxtaposed with the more fantastic creatures she sees.

I don’t want to get into the specifics of the story or some of the more magical elements, but despite the tame synopsis given above, there is a reason it’s a monster movie. In this case, the monsters are both creature and man.

Death totals remain debated. Antony Beevor writes in his history of the Civil War that Franco’s ensuing ‘white terror’ resulted in the deaths of 200,000 people and that the ‘red terror’ killed 38,000.  Julius Ruiz contends that, “Although the figures remain disputed, a minimum of 37,843 executions were carried out in the Republican zone with a maximum of 150,000 executions (including 50,000 after the war) in Nationalist Spain.”

So, as the young girl sees her world going into flames around her, she escapes into a world where she sees this guy…

Eye See You…

Like I said…monster movie.

Nonetheless, let’s move onto a more light hearted affair…for a horror flick.

Cabin in the Woods

I’m going to be frank about this; I am going to tell you as little as I can about this one, and you’re going to need to take me on faith. The pure joy of this film comes from seeing it with fresh eyes, and I would be doing a disservice to you if I mentioned anything beyond the basic premise.

Joss Whedon cowrote and produced this film with Drew Goddard who directed the piece. Both had worked on Buffy and Angel and wrote the script in three days. The idea was they wanted to subvert the horror/monster movie genre and turn it on its head.

They Did…

The premise is that some kids go to a cabin in the woods and like any horror cliche should, bad things start to happen to them. The twist is, from the first five minutes of the movie, the whole thing is being watched by some well dressed men in a control room. Who they are and what the kids go through is the main thrust of the movie.

This is a wonderful, modern take on the slasher/monster movie sub-genre of horror films. It is both simultaneously funny and terrifying. It will make you rethink every single monster movie, horror film, you have ever seen, and keep you up all night.

Yes, there are monsters in this movie. Like this guy…

He shows up in the first 30 minutes – Still no Real Spoilers…You’ll thank me later…

No, I won’t tell you why, but they are there. If Pan’s Labyrinth is the serious take on the genre, Cabin in the Woods is the polar opposite. It is one of the few movies in the genre that can be considered a game changer in many respects.

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So, with those two films I hope to remind you that monsters can still be scary, that they can still frighten us. Monsters are not there to be french kissed or crushed on. They exist to make us cry like little children and force us to rethink not using our old night lights. With that in mind, I bid you all adieu…

…also, this is the REAL Teen Wolf.

He’s soooooo dreamy….

Happy Halloween, Everyone.

Diversity, Queerness, and the Muppets

I don’t think the Muppets could have been created anywhere but America. As bizarre as their universe is — where tiny little bunnies and 7-foot tall monsters and ordinary looking humans all coexist without comment — it is at the same time very familiar. Our country at its best is all about the intersecting and blending of different cultures and diverse people. The Muppets represent the ideal America: everyone getting along and working together no matter how different they are; thriving not in spite of, but because of their diversity.  

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Created at around the same time, the Muppets give off the same utopian sense of optimism that the original Star Trek series does. But the Muppets are even more effective because they are not quite as consciously political. On Star Trek, we’re occasionally hit over the head with the idea: “If we can stop all  this war and prejudice nonsense, we can all get along — Soviets, Americans, aliens, everybody.” It’s heartfelt, but a little ham-fisted.

But with the Muppets, we’re asked to accept without question the idea that a bear and a frog are friends. And we do. And that’s awesome. At the heart of this quirky little puppet show is the idea that difference isn’t a barrier to love.

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Which points towards the fact that the sensibility of the Muppets is more than just multiracial and multicultural — it’s queer. I do not use the term to mean (necessarily) gay — to be queer is to subvert heteronormative behavioral expectations, whatever your gender or sexual orientation. And the Muppets do that all the time.

Take the off-beat relationship between Gonzo and his girlfriend Camilla the chicken. Or the familial structure of the Muppets — living together in a big community house, in a family that is structured by mutual affection and shared values rather than genetic ties. Most obviously, take Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy — they are one of pop culture’s most recognizable couples, and yet they subvert gendered expectations at practically every level.

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Against gender stereotypes, Piggy usually pursues Kermit. She is outspoken, physically imposing, and independent; he is soft-spoken, gentle, and community-minded. They manage to embody hetero norms while simultaneously contradicting them.

I may be accused of reading too deeply into children’s entertainment, but I think the fact that this subversive diversity is present in children’s entertainment is what makes it so significant.  While so much of children’s media is conventional in its gender and sexual politics, the Muppets provide an alternative glimpse into a positive, family-friendly portrayal of queerness.  

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The first television show that many of us ever saw was Sesame Street. From this incarnation of the Muppets we learned not just numbers and letters, but the multiplicity of forms that family can take — families on Sesame Street are multiracial, inclusive of people with disability, bilingual, headed by women, families of choice — all forms of family that subvert patriarchal norms.

Of course, in the utopian communities portrayed in the world of the Muppets, we see America through rose-colored glasses. This is satirized in the musical Avenue Q, where Muppet-like characters have to face the problems embedded in the real world — racism, unemployment, homophobia. It points out that our world isn’t quite as nice as what Sesame Street prepares us to expect.

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However, Henson’s creations are not meant to reflect society’s realities — they are meant to reflect our aspirations. As Henson himself said, “I’ve always tried to present a positive view of the world in my work. It’s so much easier to be negative and cynical and predict doom for the world than it is to try and figure out how to make things better. We have an obligation to do the latter.”

And so even as we live in a country where people of color are still systematically oppressed, where religious minorities are persecuted, and where queer people are murdered, our hopes are raised by the dream of a better world. We attempt to form communities that go against the grain and create spaces where we can be our full selves. In these “queer” spaces, we are liberated from society’s expectations.

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As even the ever-optimistic Kermit points out, it’s not easy being green — to be “other” because of our skin color or gender or sexuality. But when we learn that our difference is what makes us beautiful — individually and in community — we realize that “it’s all we wanna be.”

Friday (Late-Night Double) Feature: Atmospheric Horror

In honor of the month of October and it’s rapidly approaching holiday, HALLOWEEN, the next few Friday Features will be Late-Night Double Features. Which is, of course, in honor of another Halloween tradition.

This week I’m going to feature two works that really exemplify something that can make or break a scary story: Atmosphere!

Atmospheric horror is to modern horror gore-fests what a subtle fine wine is to a bathtub full of grain alcohol and kool-aid. Both will get you there (being scared – or maybe drunk), but one feels like a journey and the other feels like a punch in the gut.

Atmosphere isn’t really so much about what happens in a story, but the environment and setting. It’s less often about showing the audience something horrible, and more about showing them evidence of something horrible. We won’t see the gruesome death, but we’ll find the smeared blood from where the beast dragged away its prey.

In visual art of all kinds, lighting also plays an important role in setting the “creepy” tone that we’re talking about. In movies, tv, and video games, lighting and sound play equally significant parts – a mysterious growl from off-camera, suspense-building music, the wet sounds of chewing coming from the darkness.

In written art, the right atmosphere typically comes from the reader experiencing the same sorts of uncertainty, confusion, and fear-for-one’s life that the characters experience. That can also mean making some serious use of sights and sounds, of course, but the nature of written stories adds a barrier between the writer and the reader that actually has the potential of making things more terrifying (because when there’s a lack of clarity about just what it is we’re afraid of, it’s even scarier).

So without further ado – two exemplars of ATMOSPHERIC HORROR!

Lovecraft himself

First and foremost, I have to pay homage to one of the progenitors of the horror genre as we know it today, Howard Philips Lovecraft. Lovecraft was truly a master of atmosphere. Behind nearly all of his stories were creatures (of his own creation) that defied the imagination. Lovecraft’s most infamous monster, Cthulu, has so saturated our culture (particularly geek/internet culture) that it’s easy to forget how inconceivably terrifying it would be. It’s supposed to be a creature nearly 300 feet tall, humanoid in shape but with gigantic wings and a head adorned with writhing tentacles like an octopus.

But even in the story “The Call of Cthulu,” it’s not until the very end that the monster awakens. Most of the story is spent building the suspense and mystery about what Cthulu might really be (Spoiler Alert: Giant Space Monster), based on newspaper clippings and insane ramblings from people who’ve interacted with the “Cthulu Cult.” Lovecraft gives us evidence of something terrible, but doesn’t show it to us until the very end – and by then it’s too late.

But actually “Call of Cthulu,” influential as it may be, isn’t the subject of this feature. It’s actually not that high on my list of favorite H.P. Lovecraft stories. Another of his Weird Tales I ran across recently has quickly moved to my personal top-tier of written horror: “The Whisperer in Darkness.”

I don’t want to spoil anything about the story, so I’ll be scant on the details here. Suffice it to say that “The Whisperer in Darkness” is a case-study on atmospheric horror and that the first time I read it, I did so immediately before trying to sleep, and that was a hilariously bad choice.

Next up for this week’s (Late-Night Double) Feature, I want to talk about Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

This is a really scary game. 

It does what many other Horror-Survival genre games won’t: takes away your gun. What games like Dead SpaceResident Evil, and Doom 3 manage to do is fun and scary (and sometimes relies on good creepy atmosphere), but at their core these are still action games with a horror flare. You’re still playing a slightly-more-serious Bruce Campbell versus the Army of Darkness. If Dead Space had cars, you can bet there would be some of this.

Amnesia takes away all of those “action” elements and replaces them with pure terror, and the inability to take on the evil that you’re up against. Much of the early segments of Amnesia are devoted to revealing that you’re being hunted by some kind of “living nightmare” but not showing it to you. Sometimes you’ll hear it dragging around on the floor above you, sometimes you’ll catch it rounding a corner, but you won’t see it fully for a while.

That whole time the suspense and mystery and terror just build. And then when you finally DO see the monster fully, you can’t do anything to stop it! You’re only hope is to run and hide!

There are loads of “let’s play” videos featuring unsuspecting people playing Amnesia and screaming for mercy when they hit on one of the really scary moments, but for the real experience, check out the game for yourself on GOG.com or Steam.

Don’t forget to play it in the dark! And use headphones!

How Miley Cyrus Gave Me Thicker Skin

I almost didn’t write this blog post.

I was actually scared off from writing it, because it’s such a polarizing issue, and I discovered in just about 3 seconds of google searching that you can get a shocking, overwhelming amount of hate for voicing your opinion on this.

I wanted to say something positive about Miley Cyrus.

Yeah, that’s it.

I just wanted to say something not negative about her recent music videos/performances.

It wasn’t even going to be entirely positive, either! Because there are some really good reasons to be displeased with some of her recent comments and performances. And also, I don’t really think she’s that big of a deal. So I wasn’t going to devote more than a couple of paragraphs to those musings.

Basically, it was gonna be something relatively lightweight about how after I watched her “Wrecking Ball” video on her VEVO channel, it auto-played this wicked old video of hers called “Fly on the Wall” from when she still had long curled brown Disney Channel hair and baby fat and her sexydancing was way awkward.

And when I saw them juxtaposed I was like, “WHOAH! Her sexy moves in the old video are much less resemblant of actual sex moves than in her more recent videos! Maybe she had only seen sex in movies or something when she filmed that first video, because she looks super awkward and kind of like she doesn’t know that isn’t what real sexy stuff looks like. Or maybe she’s just not self-confident enough at that point to let her real understanding of sexuality be revealed on-camera, because then people would’ve thought she was a slut and she actually cared about that then.”

That was the tack I was going to take. I mean there was probably still going to be some exploration of how the fact that her dancing now kind of admits that she’s got real-life sexual experience nowadays is what’s really upsetting people. (Because if her sexydancing wasn’t so realistic it wouldn’t be a big hoopla, I bet).

But when I write a blog post about someone I don’t feel like I know a lot about (and I know extremely little about Miley Cyrus), I try to do some research to make sure I’m not missing anything that everyone else knows that’ll come back to bite me in the butt.

So I did some googling on Miley Cyrus just to see what she had said about her “Wrecking Ball” video and what other people had said about it, for frame of reference.

And I was shocked.

I felt appalled, sickened, and wanted to curl up in a ball and pretend I hadn’t read the things people had said about her.

“DISGUSTING.”

“WHORE.”

“PITIFUL.”

“PROSTITUTE.”

“DUMB.”

“SLUT.”

And on and on.

All because she wore a bikini on-stage and danced like every high schooler at prom (or college student at a kegger) since 2001?

There are plenty of other reasons to have issues with Miley Cyrus and her performances.

There are racial implications of her use of twerking and women of color as dancers in her performances. She’s clearly not well educated about nor empathetic to people suffering from mental illness. She is not as good a dancer as Beyoncé or Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake. (Or, of course, plenty of famous people from before I was 13 years old, but I’m going to stick with what I know best).

But most of these commenters aren’t hating on Miley Cyrus for any of those completely serious and understandable reasons.

They think she’s “disgusting” because her performances have been so sexual recently — and because she seems to be doing it on purpose, and because she wants to.

It would be one thing if she said afterwards that she’d felt uncomfortable during the VMAs performance. That her manager had forced her to do it, but she’s a good girl and she didn’t want to, but she felt like she had to if she wanted to have a career, but now she’s wondering if it’s even worth it if that’s the price you have to pay for something as temporary as fame.

But that’s not what she’s saying.

Miley Cyrus wants to show how sexy she is. She wants to show that she likes sex. She wants to use that to get publicity. She wants to make money and be famous. She wants to have fun. She wants to do over-the-top things.

Why?

Because she can. Because she’s 20 years old, and 20-year-olds want to do crazy stuff! (I mean, what would you have done with all her money and fame when you were 20?)

And because she’s a human being with a sex drive. Because she doesn’t have a problem showing naked ambition.

(Pun not intended, but now that it’s on the page, I’mma embrace it).

Miley Cyrus doesn’t give a f*** what advice those people have for her. She isn’t a helpless little girl. She’s a smart, successful, savvy woman who is happy with her choices right now and when she isn’t, it looks like she can change ’em herself.

She doesn’t look like she needs rescuing from manipulative managers or music execs. She doesn’t need an intervention to rescue her from Hollywood.

She’s living her dream because she has made the money and the friends and the fame to let her do the type of crazy, id-driven stuff that lots of 20-year-olds want to do but usually can’t get away with.

Why should she pretend that she doesn’t want to party? Or be famous? Or have sex? Or make money?

These people whose comments are the most prevalent aren’t mad at Miley Cyrus for being a human who was gyrating on-stage or grabbing her crotch (because, you know, no one has ever done that on-stage before).

They’re mad that she refuses to be ashamed of it. They’re mad that their shaming can’t convince her that her desires need to be hidden and restrained and embarrassing. They’re mad because she’s a female human being who’s unashamed to be overtly, blatantly sexual — and unabashedly fame-seeking, to boot.

No one is saying things this hateful about Robin Thicke for portraying someone who enjoys having a half-naked woman rub up on him. The problem is with the woman who’d actually do it (and might even enjoy it).

She should be properly ashamed to ask for what she wants, just like these hostile critics are. Especially since she’s a woman, who shouldn’t be “overly ambitious” nor “overly sexual”.

Because I mean, WHAT WOULD HOLD SOCIETY TOGETHER IF WE DIDN’T HAVE SHAME???

/facepalm.

So I’mma go back into my internet comment-free life now, and just assume slut shaming is receding and that it’s OK for women to boldly pursue fame, fortune, sex and power.

And in the meantime, I am going to publish this post. Because yeah, it would really suck if all of those commenters from other corners of the internet came here and called me a whore-supporter or a slut or immoral or depraved. But if Miley Cyrus doesn’t let it get to her, then I don’t really need to, either.

In Ms. Cyrus’s words,

“It’s my mouth — I can say what I want to.”