Miley Cyrus is under investigation for desecrating the Mexican flag on Mexican soil, according to CNN.
During a recent show, the 21-year-old former Disney star (already accused of appropriating black culture) strapped on a prosthetic butt the size of two beach balls and bent over so her black male backup dancers could floss and whip her derriere with the Mexican flag—on Mexico’s Independence Day. This man’s face says it all:
Six years ago, pop star Paulina Rubio was fined $4,000 for a photo shoot in which she appeared with the Mexican flag as her only clothing. Mexican state legislators have proved willing to prosecute Cyrus, calling for her to get locked up in jail for 36 hours (the crime can also earn a $1,270 fine).
Of course, this is far from the first offensive thing Cyrus has done—everyone remembers her awkward performance with Robin Thicke at the 2013 VMAs. Aside from that, here are two other moments to ponder before excusing the star as “just being Miley.”
There was the time she performed at G-A-Y in London and decided to expound on sexuality:
Everyone’s a little bit gay, that’s the truth…All it takes is one cocktail. And if that doesn’t work, sprinkle something in their drink. That’s what I always do.
In a few words, she devalued what it means to be gay, then explained herself further with a rape joke, not a laughing matter considering that 43 percent of LGBT women and 30 percent of LGBT men have been sexually assaulted in their lifetimes.
Or take the time she performed with a full live band of little people, whom she twerked on. Selen Luna, a 3’10’’ comedian, protested, “As much as I’m all for being anti-victim, it’s offensive to me that little people are still the go-to butt of the joke. I don’t understand why it’s ok that she’s like, ‘Oooh, look at my prop!’”
Miley’s response? She told MSNBC that she doesn’t think about the criticism, “because we’re making them feel sexual and beautiful.”
Admittedly, Cyrus has tried to embrace a diverse array of people, and her Mexcian flag incident and “everyone’s a little bit gay” joke could be construed as attempts to connect with her audiences. However, there is a line between inclusion and appropriation, between showcasing people’s talents and reinforcing stereotypes about them. Cyrus has shrugged off criticism, saying, “It’s really funny how serious people take it. They’re like, ‘racist,’ and “you’re this.’” She also posted on Twitter:
I don’t think people realize how much energy I put into my shows & how much their bad energy brings me down.
— Miley Ray Cyrus (@MileyCyrus) February 25, 2014
But after a certain point, it’s important to listen to the critiques. Thirty-six hours in a jail may seem like an extreme reaction to a singer whose irreverence is her signature, but it’s time for a reality check: Cyrus needs to own that her actions can be hurtful, instead of maintaining that they are part of an uplifting game in which everyone feels “sexual and beautiful,” and in which she is the victim of other’s bad energy.